innovation in metadata design, implementation & best practices

Report on the First Month of the DCMI Service

Diane I. Hillmann, Administrator
May 12, 2003

The new AskDCMI service passed its first anniversary last week,
and has so far attracted more questions than anticipated. A
total of 40 questions have been asked so far. The questions
have been fairly well distributed amongst the available

About DCMI 7
Implementation 8
Syntaxes 6
Terms 18

Most of the questions have been thoughtful and relevant, none
so far have been frivolous, but a few have had to be deleted
(errors, automated replies, etc.) and one was definitely

We currently have 51 registered users and 11 registered
experts. Most of the questions have been answered by three of
those experts (Diane, Stuart, and Andy), so we clearly have
a way to go before we can consider this a fully functioning

I see several areas where we need to focus some attention:

1. Recruitment of experts

Eleven experts are not enough, and we definitely need more
experts with enough relevant experience to answer questions
on syntax. Recommendation: Stu and Makx make some pointed
personal suggestions to folks on the Advisory and Usage Boards,
plus others that may be vocal and articulate on the lists.

2. More timely answers

The original time parameter for unanswered questions to
be deemed "overdue" was 5 days. We have not regularly been
making that deadline, which results in questions going into an
"overdue" queue, which is not viewable by anyone other than
the administrator. Aside from the question of whether this is
good from the point of view of the software, it is not good
for this service. There are currently no overdue questions,
but that's a result of a good bit of arm twisting on my part.

3. Training for experts

It is entirely possible that part of the problem with both (1)
and (2) may be that experts feeling 'in-expert' on the system,
to the point that they are not stepping up to the plate and
claiming and answering questions. There are several things
we could do to ameliorate this. First, I'd like to do a
short session with the UB when they are in Ithaca in June
(this could be done by me or Yvonne). Secondly, we could do
a similar session at the Conferenceeither for the Advisory
Board, for the AB and an invited group of potential experts,
or for anyone who wanted to participate. Again, the trainers
for this could be me, Yvonne, or Stuart.

4. Giving feedback to the VRD

The software we're using is really designed more for use in an
'educational' context, where there is a broader disparity
between askers and answerers. AskDCMI is operating in a
slightly different context, one that is more 'professional'
(though we hope not less educational for that). Stuart has
said that the software will be revised to bring it into an
'open source' state by next year, which is an excellent
opportunity for us to provide useful feedback to them. We've
done very well so far, but I'd like to consider how we could
do more. It'd be wonder to think that we could be starting
a trend: consider how useful it would be to everyone if W3C
could start up one of these? And IEEE/LOM? Having a network of
these services could make them potentially much more useful,
as questions could be referred between the services.