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An Information Transparency Initiative Update: The Content Audit and ICANN Taxonomy

31 January 2018
By Duncan Burns and David Conrad

As you may recall from our September 2017 blog, the Information Transparency Initiative's (ITI) primary goals are: improving www.icann.org content findability in all six U.N. languages, creating content governance, and building new technical infrastructures to enforce governance and enable improved content findability. The ICANN Board approved ITI at its September 2017 meeting in Montevideo. Read the Board Resolution about ITI here.

ITI officially kicked off this month in Los Angeles with a series of planning sessions aimed at reinforcing the project's objectives and mapping out the first six months of its implementation.

This is an important project for the ICANN community, Board, and organization. We are committing significant time and resources to get this right, and we also need your help. ITI's success depends on your feedback.

Over the next 24 months, we will be posting monthly blogs to this site that will outline the upcoming ITI work, and how you can provide feedback. Before we share details on how you can provide feedback, we want to update you on our current ITI work.

The Content Audit

The first step in building content governance starts with a content audit. A content audit is a process by which a team of auditors looks at each piece of content to determine what it is, assess its quality and accuracy, and record whether it has been translated. It also involves applying a consistent taxonomy (more on this below) to each piece of content. Before we can determine how to build a content governance specific to ICANN's needs, we need to know what we have.

ICANN is performing a first-ever quantitative and qualitative audit of all the content on www.icann.org. The audit began in November 2017 and will continue through to August 2018.

An ICANN Taxonomy

You may have heard the term taxonomy before, but you may be unfamiliar with its meaning and how it applies to ITI. A taxonomy is a system of classification based on vocabulary or a collection of terms (metadata) used to improve an organization's content findability.

The following analogy may help you visualize how a taxonomy improves findability. Imagine you have a basement packed with piles of receipts, documents, tax returns, keepsakes, photos, and books. Over the years, you continue to throw more papers and files into the basement, without organizing any of the growing piles of documents. One day, you need to find an important tax return, but you can't find it. Why? Because you didn't take the time to organize your content into labeled boxes and place the papers into its appropriately labeled box. But what if you had taken the time to organize your documents? You'd be able to find that important document quickly and easily. You'd also be able to add future files to the appropriately-labeled boxes. You'd no longer need to hunt for documents because you created a system to improve findability based on a labeling system that works for you.

That is essentially what we are in the process of doing. A team of content auditors are applying metadata and categories to all the public content on www.icann.org. This site does not currently have a consistent taxonomy. The content audit is helping the ITI Team create a taxonomy to improve the findability of www.icann.org content in all six U.N. languages.

Next Steps

In March 2018, we will launch a platform, feedback.icann.org, which will allow you to see and experience drafts of upcoming content and features. It will also provide you with the opportunity to share feedback on the specific draft content or feature you are viewing. We will use your feedback to improve on the drafts for final implementation.

The first draft feature we will post to this feedback site is a new, searchable, translated ICANN Glossary. This Glossary will include frequently used terms, definitions, and acronyms in all six U.N. languages.

Also in March 2018, we will hold an ITI session at ICANN61 in Puerto Rico. This ITI session will give you the opportunity to ask questions, and share concerns and feedback directly to the project leaders. Details about this ICANN61 session will be in our February www.icann.org blog. Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about the project and want members of the ITI Team to meet directly with your community group, please email us at the address below, and we'll work with you to arrange a date and time at ICANN61.

We are excited about this project, and the transformational impact it will have on our content governance, helping professionalize our content systems, and improving content findability. Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues in the ICANN community, visit feedback.icann.org in March, and please join us at ICANN61 for the ITI session.

If you have any questions or feedback, email us anytime at: informationtransparency@icann.org.


Duncan Burns

David Conrad

David Conrad