Guidance for Maintainers
Help and Guidance 2021: New Page: Version 1.1
These pages are for all those involved in GENUKI as volunteers maintaining the content. `if you have not logged into your account as a maintainer you can do so here Login. There is some advice on getting started in terms of the menus you will find on the screen once you are logged in.
These pages cover:
- what tasks need doing;
- who does them and
- how to do them including:
Undertaking those tasks is supported by:
- Technical Advice:There is additional technical background on how the current software as been tailored to provide the GENUKI system.
- Guidance on Standards Maintainers are expected to work within a code of conduct and to observe the standards agreed for the inclusion of information in GENUKI and ensuring its continued validity.
- Communication and Engagement with the Executive Team and particularly the Volunteer Coordinator.
In common with many web systems we tend to refer to what you see in the body of your screen as a page. In Drupal, as other forms of content management system, a visible page will often be brought together from a variety of elements - header, footer, main content, some automatically added content etc. The main content in GENUKI is provided by a "node" - the information, eg about a county or parish, is contained in a node and it will be the node that you are editing.
We use both page and node fairly interchangeably but sometimes it will be necessary to be precise. For example if you see information on a county page that you wish to edit (eg the list of maps) you may be surprised that this is not in the county node. That is an item added to the page automatically based on a consistent common core and information selected from other sources (eg the Gazetteer). We deal with this in the technical guidance but generally you should ask on the maintainers mailing group if you cannot see how to achieve and outcome you think is necessary.
GENUKI is now a mature website having been established in 1995. It has over 300,000 nodes and many of those contain significant numbers of individual pieces of information. Even so the expansion of the Internet means that there is potential for new information to arise all the time. As we have implemented more sophisticated software we recognise the opportunity to improve the coverage, consistency and depth of the topics across all our geographical areas.
There are thus two general tasks and a range of technical tasks
Checking and repairing existing content
The current content needs to remain correct and up to date.
This is particularly important in the GENUKI virtual library in relation to links to external websites. The links can often change as websites are revised or developed with new software. Sometimes websites disappear and mailing lists get transferred to new systems. We have automated the process of identifying problems and sometimes indicating solutions but the final correction needs to be made manually.
Other information in the virtual library (such as books or the location of Archives) may be less volatile but it is often needs more skill in finding any problems or the help of our visitors who report problems.
Errors may also be found in our nodes in the ChurchesXDirectory and in the Gazetteer. Currently there is no detailed automatic testing and there are often reported by users and will need manual correction by editing the nodes.
Improving the breadth and depth of information
Even with the arrival of the commercial services focused on records of names there remains a unique contribution GENUKI makes: undertanding how the available records relate to particular places and thus can help genealogical searches. GENUKI also provides much local context enabling you to create true family histories.
In the GENUKI virtual library we have very good coverage across the countries and counties - although there is always scope for more! Our main priority is to achieve a similar level of coverage in parishes across all areas. This depends on seeking out and reviewing a wide range of sources and selecting the key elements for inclusion in GENUKI.
On the ChurchesXDirectory a key focus is to identify and add churches other than the main Anglican parish churches, especially when they are a significant source of vital records.
In the Gazetteer the main improvements to be made are in the accuracy of key locations, the addition of boundaries as well as including more important smaller locations within parishes.
As with any computer based system someone needs to make it work including:
- bug fixing in the Drupal implementation of GENUKI ;
- devising and implementing new techniques to manage the data and present it;
- monitoring the performance of the hosting of the website and dealing with issues arising.
There are broadly four different types of roles that volunteers undertake:
- acting as a GENUKI Trustee (dealt with here);
- being part of the Executive Team ( explained here);
- dealing with the content of GENUKI (generally referred to as maintainers and covered below)
- dealing with aspects of the computer systems and software that host GENUKI (system users not covered in this guidance)
Individuals can undertake one or more distinct roles on content management eg looking after more than one area; and their technical access to the system will reflect all of those maintenance roles as well as any system user function they might have.
For much of GENUKI's history the term "maintainer" essentially meant "county maintainer" dealing with the virtual library: an individual (or very occasionally two or more individuals ) responsible for creating all the pages relevant to both a county and all its parishes, sourcing information and organising the pages. They also maintained them in the sense of ensuring that information remained valid. This is still the backbone of the system and has proved successful in giving GENUKI the extent of information it offers. The Churches Database (the precursor of the ChurchesXDirectory and the Gazetteer typically were maintained separately
However two issues have led to us adopt a more flexible approach:
- the availability and use of content management systems and databases has made it easier to automate the structure and presentation of the pages;
- the wider growth of genealogy on the internet requires a different approach to the sourcing of content .
We therefore have maintainers acting in three ways:
- Individual maintainers: responsible for a geographical section (still usually a county including its parishes, but also may be a country or a town or parish) and for that section to deal with one or more of the GENUKI virtual library, the ChurchesXDirectory and the Gazetteer
- contributors: responsible for finding and submitting (and potentially directly entering into the system) new items of information either in relation to a place or to topics across several places;
- team maintainers: each main country has a team dealing with a variety of issues across several counties, and most topics (other than those maintained by individual maintainers). The Team Leader will initially be a member of the Executive Team and will agree with team members the priority actions on content improvement.
You will see at the foot of each page either an individual's name (one of the individual maintainers or contributors) or the name of the relevant country Team.
Access to GENUKI systems
Individual maintainers and team maintainers will all have access to the GENUKI technical system.They will be required to login with a username and password. (Normal visitors neither need nor should be able to login). The maintainers will be able to create and amend pages and will therefore have permissions for their access defined to limit them to the sections for which they are responsible. Other technical users (members of the Executive Team, trustees and some others) may have additional scope to change aspects of the system. More detailed information about the additional technical tasks are outside the scope of this guidance.
Status of nodes
Sections will normally be shown as under active maintenance when they are assigned to an individual maintainer or a team maintainer. However there is the ability to show that some sections or pages are not being actively maintained, usually for temporary reasons.
Get Started as a Maintainer shows you how to login, complete information in your profile, and access information about the pages you manage. It also shows the main options to allow you to manage nodes. Almost all addition of information or correction of errors will require the create or editing of a node.
GENUKI virtual library
As a maintainer you will mainly be editing the GENUKI virtual library nodes:
- the place nodes for a county and all the parishes (and towns or other areas in the county). It will be rare to need to create a new place node as the structure does not now significantly change. Usually you will be adding or editing information on a topic within the node.
- a plain/topic node providing the links to all the parishes and areas within the county. Again this is likely to need few changes but it is broadly free form and you may chose to add information about parish structures.
- the plain/topic nodes associated with the county overall and each of the parishes. You will be striking a balance between information that can be well contained within a topic section in the place node and substantial information that is better placed in a linked plain/topic page. You may therefore be creating new linked plain/topic nodes as well as editing existing nodes.
Most text entry uses a webpages WYSIWYG editor (ckEditor).
There are other fields on pages to be completed or amended most importantly those defining the geographical linkages (county, parent place etc) and a web link (url). There are hints on the edit screens and most are straightforward.
If you are responsible for a section of the information in the ChurchesXDirectory you will be editing a single main node. There is the opportunity to include information about specific topics within that node but these should be limited to aspects that are highly specific to the individual church rather than applicable to the whole parish.
In the Gazetteer there is also a single main node about a geographical attributes of a particular location. Using the map you can also add boundaries to parishes.
Images and other media types can be useful additions to many nodes. Once they are loaded onto the GENUKI media library they can be added into text sections. In some other cases (eg Churches) they are added as separate items. There is background on using images to help with the choice of size and format and also two how to guides:
Checking and repairing the content often arises from comments submitted by visitors or other external information.
The main priority is to ensure that all links within the GENUKI virtual library (place and plain/topc pages) remain correct and live. The links are both internal within GENUKI and external.
We have therefore implemented a link checker to check all the links regularly. The results are displayed as part of the "My errors" view found on your profile. In addition whenever you are editing a node there will be a panel at the top showing any link errors found within that page (unless you have switched these off as part of your profile).
There are two detailed guides on links.
We aim to conform to HTML5 standards. In "My Errors" you will see a column show the number of nodes with HTML errors in each section that you maintain. Clicking on the number will show a more detailed report of the number of warnings and errors in each node. Sometimes there will be very large numbers of errors and often these are in old converted pages using outdated HTML attributes. Most do not have a damaging impact on the presentation of the final page but you should aim to deal with them whenever possible.
This is the right hand column in "My errors". The main type of error identified is "Inaccessible page". This is a page that cannot be found from a link on any other page and as such does not form part of the orgainnised structure of the GENIUKI informaton. The content on such pages is found by searches. This pages arise either from an error in the link (which should be shown in link checking) or more likely from an accidental deletion of the link or an erroi in the URL Alias on the inaccessible page itself.
Some pages are deliberately kept inaccessible at least for a time, for example when creating a small set of plain/topic pages before linking to them from existing pages or as working drafts.
ChurchesXDirectory and Gazetter
You will find a separate set of reports within the "Shortcuts" menu for "Churches" and "Gazetteer". These show the coverage of specific elements of the information with those nodes that you maintain. For example, whether a gazetteer includes a boundary or whether the presence of a graveyard at church is unknown. These are more matters for improvement than technical errors. However you will get reports of other factual errors (eg the dedication of a church).
Corrections are simply a matter of editing the relevant node as shown in these How to guides:
Based on extensive experience we offer some general advice on the way in which the three elements of GENUKI can be developed and improved. We assume that most volunteers will have some experience in terms of visiting GENUKI and using it to find information. If you need any refreshing on some of the broad issues then look at the general background pages for the basic information.
For the GENUKI virtual library there are notes developing the main place pages (County and Parish) and the sources of information you might consult.
For the ChurchesXDirectory there are notes on expanding the range of churches covered and providing additional details of churches including history, location and photographs
In the Gazetteer there is scope for including additional locations, making locations more precise and including boundaries on maps.
The "Howtos" are all designed to give step by step instructions on completing a task. It can often be helpful to have a fuller understanding of how the Drupal system works and how some of its functions and facilities make things easier.
The technical guidance deals with:
- Understanding Drupal and the GENUKI implementation
- The relationship between the 3 elements (GENUKI virtual library, ChurchesXDirectory and Gazetteer).
The Trustees are responsible for a number of key aspects of the use of and inclusion of information in GENUKI.
They have therefore asked all those volunteering to support and maintain GENUKI to follow a Code of Conduct. This includes policies to deal with the following issues
- Copyright: both of the original material in GENUK and the use of other's copyright documents
- Data Protection with the related Privacy Notice.
Volunteers who act as maintainers have an obligation to follow the standards explained above . Equally they have the right to be fully supported as part of the GENUK team.
Communication is key to engagement with the whole team. All maintainers are given access to the maintainers mailing group and required to monitor the exchanges there. This enables them to raise general and specific issues and also provides a means for the Executive Team to give updates on changes to the system.
One of the Executive Team (Peggi Rodgers) has special responsibility for liaison with the volunteers.