I think it’s important to address the issue of why things sometimes change in a project. But before I start that discussion it’s important to know how the overall process works…
Before being released every project goes through the following processes – it is imaged (the original documents are scanned), defined/setup (where we figure out what should be keyed to create the index, how many fields and form types, etc), and then it is tested (to make sure everything is working in the tool, that the Field Helps are appropriately instructive and concise, etc). When setting up and testing the project there is a test group consisting of 10+ people who review a good portion of the images and come to an agreement on how the majority of the images will be keyed, then we look for anomalies – but the issue with anomalies is that don’t always encounter all of them before we release the project to be keyed.
And this is where I want to focus. There are times when situations arise while you are keying that we didn’t anticipate, and when you bring these to our attention we discuss it and come to a conclusion on how this image/situation should be keyed. When this happens we will adjust the Field Help, help articles and post a message on the message boards to let you know about this situation so if you encounter it you will know how to key the record(s). This is the main reason why instructions are adjusted.
Another reason we adjust or change the instructions is if we receive quite a few questions about how to key a certain field or a certain form type. In this situation there are a few more factors in play regarding whether we will adjust the instructions but if needed we will adjust the instructions so they are more clear – based on feedback from you, the community of contributors.
Something else to keep in mind when you run across something that you may not be sure how to key is to look at the instructions and see if there is something that mostly fits the record you are keying. There are times when using your best judgment will come into play. This can be illustrated by using the NSW Police Gazettes as an example. If the event that occurs is listed as a “larceny” or “robbery” (but the only options for Event Type are Desertion, Assault, Missing Person, Murder, Police Business, Theft, and Other) choose the option that best fits – Theft.
So although we extensively test a project before it is released there are situations that arise where it makes sense to add to or adjust the instructions. We realize that this can be frustrating, but we hope you can also see where these changes add to the quality of the indexes and how they improve the ease of keying.