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End of INFORMS Resources Page?

In 1994 I began collecting links about operations research on the internet.  Of course, it was pretty easy at the time.  There were only about 1000 web servers at all, so there were just a handful of OR links.  But there was also gopher and ftp, so I could put together a pretty good page with 30 or so entries.  Over time, “Michael Trick’s Operations Research Page” grew and grew, encompassing a couple thousand pointers.   It is through that page that I became involved in INFORMS, by becoming the founding editor of INFORMS Online.

In late 2000, I finished my terms as editor, but was then elected President of INFORMS (I suspect MTORP had something to do with that).  At that time, I donated MTORP to INFORMS, where it became the INFORMS OR Resource page.  At the time, it was the second most accessed page at INFORMS (next to the conference page).   I continued to edit the page, primarily because the software made it pretty easy to do.

Over the past few years, I have been thinking that the time for the resource collection is pretty well over.  The page was started long before google, and played an important role when finding information on the web was hard.  With google and its competitors, that is no longer the case.  A quick search can find any page on the web in an instant.  If I want to find something about OR, I go to google, not the OR Resources page.

The page is actually taking more time these days.  Spammers attack the page, and integrating the system in the overall INFORMS Online system is a hassle.  The worst aspect is updating the page.  About 1/3 of the links are no longer valid, but correcting everything needs to be done by hand.  So I am thinking perhaps the time for the system is over.  What do you think?  I see three choices, though I am sure there are more.  I (we) could:

  1. Shut down the page, perhaps replacing it by an edited blog on what’s new on the web in OR (similar to this blog, perhaps).
  2. Continue to limp along about the way we are doing things.
  3. Find someone else to come in, provide direction and excitement and show what a resource pointer collection can really be!

So, I’m interested:  what do you think we should do?

{ 9 } Comments

  1. Chang | January 2, 2008 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    What about we change the system to a Wiki-Wiki? It has already proven that the social collaboration works quite well by Wikipedia. We all know that. Build a Wiki-Wiki, name a few administrators, and let people edit. I believe it would be a good solution.

  2. Sebastian | January 2, 2008 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Yes. A wiki would be great! especially because it distributes the working load for maintaining the page up-to-date. In general I have to admit that I am using google too (probably too often) but I would like to see a commented index.

  3. Renjun Bao | January 2, 2008 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    First off, I think the website is useful. That said, shutting down is not really a good choice.
    I agree with Chang, Wiki should be great. There are many open source ready-to-go wiki applications out there, it take just minutes to install.

  4. Dan | January 2, 2008 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Another option that is more similar to the current setup would be to relay people to the Open Directory Project and just become an editor for the OR entry (http://www.dmoz.org/Science/Math/Operations_Research/ )

  5. Don Kleinmuntz | January 2, 2008 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Mike:

    I am sympathetic to your suggestion the time for this resource page may be past, since search engines tend to be both more precise and more comprehensive than what is essentially a manually compiled list. On the other hand, this supposes that the search engine user knows what he or she is looking for and can formulate an appropriate search query. Perhaps the best contribution for a resource page should be to provide guidance to people who don’t know what questions to ask, perhaps because they are relatively new to the field? I suspect there is a role for a “one stop” shop for basic resources on a topic. When I used to teach OR-related courses, I always made a habit of providing students with a handful of useful URLs on a topic. These would be resources that might or might not be useful to anyone other than a beginner, but which might get a beginner off to a good running start. Would this be a more useful (and more focused) mission for the Resource Page?

    Best wishes for the new year!

    Don

  6. deepak | January 3, 2008 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    well shutting down the site is not a good choice.get some antispam tools to protect it ,getting others to maintain page is not a real choice.

  7. Mean Squared Error | January 3, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The drawback of a wiki is that one just shifts the effort from maintaining a collection of web pages to administering a wiki server. I am curious as to whether there’s a reduction in total effort or not.

    Another drawback is that a wiki attracts self-promoters who create articles that are really thinly-veiled advertisements. I’ve also seen wikis fall victim to click-fraud bots that insert links at the bottom of articles/users’ talk pages to try to influence Google page rankings (e.g., http://wiki.videolan.org/index.php?title=Contrib_Status&diff=prev&oldid=5347).

    Why not consider the following?: Reduce the scope of the resources page. Decide on what your core mission is and build the resources page around that rather than try to keep a database of every conceivable link.

    For instance, your core mission as an educator might be education and research. Thus, you might decide keep conferences, journals, research groups, and societies, but discard companies, individuals, jobs, etc. (adsense, monster.com, craigslist are all better methods to locate those high-volume categories anyway.)

    Organizing (beyond the alphabetized summaries) the categories you keep would be helpful as well. For example, research groups could be organized by continent, nation, state/province, etc., much like you’ve done with conferences by year.

    Also, consider the visual presentation of links. Personally, I find the high-contrast, full-browser-width summary bars distracting to the point where the pages are hard to read.

  8. Francisco Marco-Serrano | January 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    First of all Mick,

    Don’t! I remember yours was one of the first pages I crawled when first knew about OR while in college. There are solutions, is just a matter of finding them.

    As other commenters I don’t think a wiki is the ideal (I’m more pro Web 1.5 for this subject). As it has been said, probably something between a blog and a set of links; I’d propose a repository of links (like OpenDirectory, yes), maintained by yourself or other colleagues (each one for his/her core section) and with the possibility for the users to comment, evaluate, and mark as broken if necessary. Registration is a must!, or antispam measures like CAPTCHA (the funny letters!) to be inserted.

    But again, I don’t think the section deserves THE END.

  9. Kevin Chen | January 24, 2008 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    With the exception of “Individuals”, the INFORMS Resources section is my most frequently visited part. Compared to Google which contains lots of junk, the companies and software packages in Resources are “filtered” (peer reviewed). If we can remove some of the outdated, broken links, that will be good enough. I also find the job listing useful.

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