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  • Annotate an entry in a biographical encyclopaedia

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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This recipe lets users of biographical encyclopaedias add comments to published entries
in the form of annotations. Annotations are commentary on existing material or
designated parts, and do not change the published content itself. Some annotations
contain new information or corrections that are eventually incorporated as changes to the
entry. Others contain information or opinions useful to other users of the encyclopaedia
when read in parallel with the published entry, but not sufficiently germane or
authoritative to be incorporated into the entry.

Allowing annotations on entries helps researchers by improving the flow of back from
the audience. It is much more efficient than processing emails in which the writer
attempts to define the entry in question and relevant section thereof. Conversely, it can
also serve to provide more control and traceability to an existing workflow of "anyone
can edit anything".



  • Tools for creating and updating annotations
  • Collection maintenance tools for the annotation reposity with shared services to
    support adding, searching, reading, replacing and removing entries, the harvesting of
    annotations for inclusion in the registry and syndication of annotations.
  • Mechanisms to approve (publish)/reject annotations
  • Spam detection tools


  • Published and "in-process" entries in a collaborative encyclopaedia
  • Annotations awaiting moderation
  • Published annotations
  • Annotations of the same entries in other collections, eg a federated registry or a
    registry with related scope.

Preparation Recipes

The "Collaboration" recipe describes the process of creating entries collaboratively, with


  1. The contributor searches or browses the repository, and spots an error or omission
    in an entry. Likely annotations are corrections of spelling mistakes, pieces of new
    information, pointers to other sources, or general commentary on the entry.
  2. The contributor creates an annotation and associates it with the entry as a whole
    or a specific part.
  3. Depending on policies in effect:
    1. The annotation be published immediately; OR
    2. The annotation is detected as spam and deleted automatically; OR
    3. The annotation is kept private, awaiting moderation.
  4. In the latter case, a user with moderation privileges ("moderator") becomes aware
    of the annotation. This could happen:
    1. in response to notification of fresh annotations
    2. by periodically checking a report of fresh annotations
    3. by coming across annotations in an in-process view of an entry.
  5. The moderator browses through the list of annotations and/or applies appropriate
    filters (eg category or sub-category of entry, date added, user role) and exercises
    the following options:
    1. Discard
    2. Use the information provided to update the entry immediately
    3. Publish unchanged
    4. Publish with changes
    5. (Optional) Send a message to the annotator about the annotation
    6. Annotate an in-process or published annotation



While this recipe has been written as an extension of the recipe for contributing to a
biographical encyclopaedia, it really describes the steps needed to support annotation of
any published content, including blogs, where the annotation takes the form of a


Annotations could be simple text-editing boxes with some html editing features, eg, to
enable addition of a link, or they could be full WYSIWIG editors supporting the
uploading of images and other media. Annotations may be associated with the whole
entry, or with selected fields or with character strings in selected fields, depending on the
sophistication of the application. Entries that are candidates for annotation in a
biographical encyclopaedia may include topics or resources.

The capacity to annotate an annotation would enable an application to support threaded
discussions and may need to be limited to a specified number of levels.


Spam detection may be used as a first-level moderation method, even if annotations can
be published directly. In this case a user with moderation privileges will need workflow
support for reviewing and deleting or releasing the quarantined annotations.

Contributors are annotators

Contributors may annotate in-process entries for themselves or other contributors using
the same steps. They may also annotate published entries if they wish to expose an issue
of interest or an association that is not yet ready to be incorporated in the entry itself. A
contributor annotating a published entry may by-pass moderation.


In order to respond privately to comments in annotations, the moderator will need to
know something about the annotator; eg by requiring an email address to be entered.
Annotators wishing to browse all of their annotations may associate themselves with the
biographical encyclopaedia through a lightweight user registration process that stores the
email address. This may give them other privileges, eg the ability to receive newsletters
or tailor their view of the service, or build and annotate their own views of the published
registry. In the latter case, the annotation process would be a form of bookmarking and
might also involve tagging and the creation of additional metadata and associations.


In a federated environment where entries have been harvested and/or syndicated,
annotations may be made to the same content in different contexts; eg, an entry for a
person in the Australian Women's Register may be harvested for the People Australia
Service and annotated there, or vice versa. This may require support for the syndication
and harvesting of annotations.

What next? Related recipes

If the contributor is allowed to create new entries, or directly insert text into existing
entries (even if not immediately published), this is considered "collaborative editing"
rather than "annotating". See "Collaborate on a biographical database" recipe.
Supporting Information

Supporting Information

This section is administrative and not necessarily for academics. It is where the concrete connections are made to Scholarly Narratives and Activites.

Related Scholarly Narratives

List of the Scholarly Narratives from which this was drawn.

Supporting Activities

List of the Shared Services Activies which are called for in this Recipe.