I have great respect and sympathy for Glossarist.com, the mother of all glossary collections. And Warwick Bone, aka Woz, is the enthusiast who is running this one-man-show. It took me a long time to finally establish my project DictionaryNet, but I guess I would have never even had the idea for starting it without being familiar with Glossarist.com and drawing inspiration from it.
When Glossarist.com started several years ago, it gained high reputation and still until now the site’s subcategories will answer searches on Google first page or you will find many links to Glossarist.com in link collection.
As great my sympathy as hard it is to face the facts. Glossarist.com turned in large into an outdated and hardly useful site. I once had the pleasure to be in correspondence with Woz and already then he stated that due to family affairs and other projects he hardly has any time to keep the site in a proper state. Now almost two years later Glossarist.com is close to becoming an empty shell.
After adding the Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences to DictionaryNet yesterday I got interested in finding additional, valuable resources to share with my visitors. I turned to the Sociology Glossary category
at Glossarist.com, which by the way also answers at rank 3 in the Google results page for the search on “Sociology Glossary”.
And this is what you get at Glossarist.com at the moment: a total of twelve links are listed, out of which the first eight are broken links. On place nine was rather average title, on place 10 again a broken link. Place eleven lists a working URL to a glossary with only seven definitions. Finally the last entry on the list, already found on the second result page, is a working link with a suitable glossary. But I doubt that someone still gets down to this entry.
And this is what you get at Glossarist.com at the moment: a total of twelve glossary links are listed, out of which the first eight are broken links. On place nine was rather average title, on place 10 again a broken link. Place eleven lists a working URL to a glossary with only seven definitions. Finally the last entry on the list, already found on the second result page, is a working link with a suitable glossary. But I doubt that someone still gets down to this entry.
According to information displayed on Glossarist.com, 6142 glossaries and topical dictionaries are grouped into categories on this site at the moment. This is an enormous number, and guess we can agree that is where the problem starts. A database of this size is hard, if not impossible to be taken care of by only one person. Having the Internet with its constantly changing environment as your basis, it is always a tuff task to stay updated: Site are restructured, content is moved or deleted, all this resulting in broken links, just as the above example showed.
Another problem Glossarist.com has, is that only a small part of its content are handpicked titles. The larger part is automatically retrieved URLs using a spider checking the meta-elements of websites such as title, description and keywords. (More about the way glossaries are selected see the FAQs http://www.glossarist.com/faq.asp on Glossarist.com, Question 3 and onwards). I remember using the onsite search at Glossarist.com before Christmas with the search term “wine”; quite to the same situation as in the example from above. Broken links, glossaries without descriptions, working links that lead to “parked sites” (sites and domains that are for sell and show no content), double mentioning of the same site, size and quality obviously doesn’t matter, all in all the search on “Wine Glossary” in Goggle was by far more informative than the results on Glossarist.com.
Doubtless there is a funny side to the automatic inclusion of titles. For example a completely unrelated dictionary made it into the wine glossary results: Railroad Defintions How come, I asked myself and had a look at the meta description of this page: <meta name=”keywords” content=”SDRM 2353 San Diego steam locomotive diesel railroad rail Tecate Copper Canyon Campo museum wine tasting tour dinner train trains rulebook airbrake… Another funny example is Breeds of Livestock – Swine Breeds S(wine) 🙂
Just to make sure I have no intention to laugh at Glossarist.com, but I am sure that Woz is aware of these implication and price one pays when relaying too much automation. I am convinced that these examples would make Woz smile as well.
What I generally do dislike at Glossarist.com (even if there were no broken links at all) is the fact that the actual URL of a reference work is not shown and only after clicking a link you will be actually know where you where sent to. I believe this is not appropriate for the informed internet user. Worse even is the situation of the advanced researcher of a field. Looking for additional information one might have to click on links that are already known, but you are able to find that out only after the click.
As much Glossarist.com is an inspiration for me, its current situation is first of all a warning to DictionaryNet to keep a close eye on updated and functioning links. I will do my, knowing that this will be not enough and als oat DictionaryNet you will find some funny stuff soon I guess…
Please help me keeping DictionaryNet in a good shape and inform me about broken links by using the comments or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org