Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Should online references use content labeling?

Should compendiums and online encyclopedias label their articles with ICRA (Family Online Safety Institute) labels or similar ratings labels?

Most reference information, like what one finds in a library in print, is general enough in nature that it is suitable for all audiences. However, online encyclopedias (like Wikipedia) are delving more deeply into controversies, as well they should. The recent emphasis (in Wikipedia, for example) to keep material objective or factual and documented with independent, external reference citations may seem to mitigate the question. Still, some parents might not want their kids (younger kids at least) to be able to reference certain articles.

The question comes up more seriously with proposals that I have advanced (on my main blog under my name) to categorize political arguments, cross-relate them, and link them to “incidents” and the incidents in turn back to objective, external (hopefully fact-checked in the journalism industry manner) sources in a professional manner. I have thought about the idea that “incident” records on such a database should have content labels, although programming this concept to work properly with current labeling systems could be a big deal. I expect to follow up later.

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