There are a few conventions which will make for a more useable, less confusing, web.

Sign it!

An important aspect of information which helps keep it up to date is that one can trace its author. Doing this with hypertext is easy -- all you have to do is put a link to a page about the author (or simply to the author's phone book entry).

Make a page for yourself with your mail address and phone number. At the bottom of files for which you are responsible, put a small note -- say just your initials -- and link it to that page. The address style (right justified) is useful for this.

Your author page is also a convenient place to put and disclaimers, copyright noitices, etc which law or convention require. It saves cluttering up the mesages themselves with a long signature.

If you are using the NeXT hypertext editor, then you can put this link from your default blank page so that it turns up on the bottom of each new document.

Give the status of the information

Some information is definitive, some is hastily put together and incomplete. Both are useful to readers, so do not be shy to put information up which is incomplete or out of date -- it may be the best there is. However, do remember to state what the status is. When was it last updated? Is it complete? What is its scope? For a phone book for example, what set of people are in it?

Refer back

You may create some data as part of an information tree, but others may may make links to it from other places. Don't make assumptions about what people have just read. Make links from your data back to more general data, so that if people have jumped in there, and at first they don't undertand what it's all about, they can pick up some background information to get the context.

A root page for outsiders

You don't have to have any particular structure to the data you publish: you can let it evolve as you think best. However, it is neat to have a document on each host which others can use to get a quick idea (with pointers) of what information is available there. I suggest you put a "map" line into your daemon rule file to map the document name "/" onto such a document. As well as a summary of what is available at your host, pointers to related hosts are a good idea.

An alias for your server

If you have a serious server then it may last longer than the machine on which it runs. Ask your internet domain name manager to make an alias for it so that you can refer to it, instead of as "" as "" for example, or "". This will mean that when you change machines, you move the alias, and people's links to your data will still work.


Tim BL