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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Help Us Explore Findability Through Tagging!

Free Government Information is investigating the usefulness of tagging government documents that do not receive traditional cataloging and needs your help! We’ve posted 32 documents that the Government Printing Office (GPO) harvested from the EPA web site and posted them to the Internet Archive. Over the next three months, we’d like to see as many people as possible tag and describe these documents using the del.icio.us bookmarking service. For a full project description and instructions on how to participate, please visit http://freegovinfo.info/epatagging. We’d like to thank GPO for posting a sample of their harvested EPA documents that made this project possible.

This project got its inspiration from Galaxy Zoo (http://www.galaxyzoo.org), an astronomy project which has a database of 1 million galaxies that researchers asked regular folks to classify as ellipical, clockwise spiral, or anticlockwise spiral. They aimed for and got at least 20 classifications per galaxy. If a particular galaxy was classified a certain way by 80% of users who assigned a classification to that galaxy, that classification was accepted. This "person on the street" data was compared with a small subset (50,000) of galaxies that professional astronomers had managed to classify on their own. The researchers found that there was pretty much total agreement between the professional and amateur assessments. Documents are more complex than galaxies. 🙂 , but if 9 out of 10 people tag an epa document as air quality, then it’s probably about air quality.

So please visit http://freegovinfo.info/epatagging and get started. And tell your friends, coworkers and especially any environmental professionals that you know to get involved. Also, if you have a network in del.icio.us, we’d appreciate you putting on a "for:[friend name]" tag for every member of your del.icio.us network.

UPDATE 1/25/2008 Forgive my overzealousness with the above suggestion to tag every person in your del.icio.us network. I should never advocate spam. BUT, if there are people in your network interested in the environment or government documents, please consider sharing our project page with them.

The more people involved with this project, the better the descriptions and the more robust the subject access provided by the tagging will be. At least that’s our hope.

We are going to run this project for three months, then the FGI volunteers will compile data on the following:

A) How many people participated in the project.
B) How many documents were tagged.
C) How many documents were described.
D) The average number of tags per document.

We will also examine how much agreement on tags exist for a given document. We will make our compilations publicly available along with any analysis we have.

Hope to see you on del.icio.us soon making environmental documents easier to find and easier to digest!

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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