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Web Indexing SIG, a Special Interest Group of the American Society for Indexing

Web Indexing Awards - 2016 Feedback

To encourage high quality web and ebook indexes and to promote the web and ebook indexing work of professional indexers, the Web & Electronic Indexing Special Interest Group of the American Society for Indexing awards a deserving indexer the annual Web Indexing Award for excellence in web and ebook indexing. This is the first year we combined Web and ebook indexing in the Web Indexing Award and the winner mixed both mediums.

First Place - Dr Doug Lowry, USA - International Competition

Catholic Q and A: Essentials of the Faith Explained by Father Ray Ryland ebook with MarpX search engine

  • ebook index and theme url (epub and mobi - epub has to be downloaded):
  • ebook MarpX search engine url:
  • purpose: This is a compilation of Fr. Ryland's column that appeared from 2004 through 2014 in The Catholic Answer magazine, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN 46750. The 676 questions came from Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians who wanted a better understanding of the Catholic faith. Access to particular topics is provided via a thorough back-of-the-book index, as well as through theme links throughout the book. Touch a topic in the index or a theme link, view the question and Fr. Ryland's wise answer, and you are equipped to better understand and to share the fullness of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Think of this book as one more instrument in the "new evangelization". Online resources include full search capability and updates of the index. "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" granted by the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio.
  • indexer's society: American Society for Indexing
  • software used:
    using Doug Lowry's search engine algorithm patent USA 7,433,893: Method and system for compression indexing and efficient proximity search of text data
  • free copy of ebook to see techniques used is available via Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division at with freebie code OSVCQA till September 30, 2016. This requires registration on and ebook is read in browser or via Apple iTune or Google Play Bookshout! app. See Bookshout! tutorial.

Judge's Comments:

eBook Setup

  • Firefox on Linux EEEPC
  • Firefox EPUBReader addon
  • emailed copy of full epub edition
  • demo epub was not fully functional so not used

Usability/ease of use in navigating within the index and finding information

  • Short and useful introduction in ebook to using themes and how the questions/paragraphs are constructed in absence of page numbering. Search engine also has online help re syntax.
  • A-Z index in ebook with 2 letter jump station at start of each letter, e.g. Index C CA, CE, CI etc.
  • Themes on foot of relevant pages with previous/next buttons to linked list in question/paragraph order like Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
  • Search engine on Web pointed to ebook paragraph using breadcrumbs and question/paragraph number, e.g. {378.2}, which had to be manually found in ebook as there was no hypertext live link back to ebook question/paragraph. This was overcome with search engine full text results.
  • Once search engine was switched from copyright protected to open version, full text of question was displayed in search results. Before that full text was blanked out except for keywords and ebook had to be used for full text.
  • ^F had to be used to find relevant paragraph on page as index only linked to question not question/paragraph.
  • I used my theological knowledge to navigate.
  • As a Protestant I had to think hard to work out meaning from Catholic perspective. I would use index or read relevant similar questions using theme previous and next arrows at bottom to fill in gaps the immediate question did not answer.
  • Search engine, indexes and themes use literal words in text (using closeness algorithm if more than one word) but very few synonyms.
  • In index only ordering of words in subhead were used otherwise the index very closely mirrored wording in text making it very easy to find exact references using index, theme or search engine.
  • All 3 indexes were needed sometimes when one did not have term. Index and theme were very close. Search engine covered all terms. I used the index to find a page then drilled down in content using obscure words from text in search engine to find references not mentioned in index or themes (passing references). This overcame lack of double posting.

Sufficient coverage of web site content, i.e. indexing depth and completeness

  • Quite a large amount of depth for theological, historical and ecclesiastical terminology.
  • Some questions had up to 9 or more themes or index entries.
  • Index missed most proper nouns like Langton except for church officials like popes (John Paul II), cardinals or saints in A-Z but were found in search engine with surrounding words and breadcrumb and question/paragraph listed and keyword location in question(s).

Wording of entries and subentries

  • Index and themes were very well articulated and clear with just enough words to cover point.
  • Themes had 2 levels, narrow with | and subhead, e.g. "Confirmation, Sacrament of | Holy Spirit and", and broad with no | or subhead e.g. priests.

Correct use of cross-references

  • Thorough and well thought out cross references on religious topics including doctrines unique to Catholics so that non-Catholic could find meaning of terminology in their own mindset which was helpful due to subtle nuances of Catholic doctrine compared to Protestant doctrine e.g. predestination or Sola Scriptura of Reformation.
  • There were sometimes 4 or 5 cross references under heading which jumped to relevant part of index clearly.
  • A small amount of external Web links were linked to making it a mini Web index when ebook did not cover material.
  • There was a very good bibliography with correctly numbered footnote links to access them in the ebook.
  • There were clear accurate cross references between some questions.

Sufficient and appropriate use of double posting

  • No, only in minor way. E.g Cremation; Mass | funeral. Index uses cross references instead.
  • The material has very strict interpretation so there was little room for double postings as it was built round liturgy and dogma not vernacular.
  • This could be improved by using outsider terms not just Catholic terms. Some Protestant terms like predesintation or Calvinism were mentioned so there was a brief window for a Protestant to understand where the Catholic material was coming from theologically.
  • St Augustine quotes were the same in Catholic and Protestant.

No broken or incorrect links

  • Nil broken or incorrect links.
  • High quality links.
  • Software created tokens so entries were 100% accurate.
  • All Web links I tested worked (3 or 4). Their domains must be stable and the page URLs standardised, a good move in an online digital library so ebook does not link to dead links.
  • All footnote links worked and citations were exceptionally clear, well annotated and scholarly.

Special features used, e.g., the use of a special method to indicate a page that is particularly important

  • Use of theme at foot of question to highlight cross references helped educate reader new to the material.
  • The questions with many themes stood out as more useful.
  • The history segments were footnoted.
  • Bold question/paragraph number and Q or A e.g. {4.1} Q. like a catechism.
  • Questions were grouped under broad topics in table of contents on left of ebook for browsing.
  • Search engine used colors to highlight where in the text the keyword was found.

Attractive design

  • Standard ebook format.
  • Colour picture on cover.
  • Links to external Websites with text but no images or multimedia.
  • No maps, figures or historical pictures.

Search and filtering

  • Excellent search on search engine site.
  • Nil search in ebook but search engine indexed ebook using closeness algorithm.
  • Search engine used * wildcard for left and right truncation or exact word if no * was used e.g. bishop != archbishop but *bishop == bishop | archbishop like other search engines.
  • Once search engine open version was enabled, context in search results was displayed. Before that copyright protected version blocked words which made it awkward to find surrounding words. Breadcrumb helps pick chapter and question/paragraph paragraph.
  • Because of closeness indexing algorithm, the index is incredibly accurate with no blocking of surrounding text on internet in open version. In copyright protected version, full text was blocked. In ebook all text is visible but not on internet search.
  • Only certain characters are allowed e.g. a-zA-Z0-9,.$'-. Colon was unblocked with correction to search function software to allow colon between 2 digits. Search syntax is no longer strange so Bible references can now be found e.g. Romans 3:28 or Rom* 3:28 because colon between 2 digits was unblocked to be findable. Maybe this is how the tokens are stored.
  • Distance between words can be configured e.g. no more than 5 words apart. I used the default 50. These are called waste words. This was not clear but I worked out what waste words were by deduction. The less words, the better accuracy in retrieval.

Judge: Dwight Walker, Web and Electronic Indexing SIG Webmaster, American Society for Indexing, January 7, 2016

In June 17, 2016, 2015 Web Indexing Award was renamed 2016 Web Indexing Award to reflect year it was awarded not deadline year.

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