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Experiments Towards Reverse Linking on the Web


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Multi-headed reverse linking (incoming links) is a fundamental concept of Open Hypermedia Systems. However, this bi-directionality has been lost in the move to the World Wide Web (Web). Here, we suggest a Web based solution for rediscovering these reverse links, and develop a series of experiments to demonstrate our approach. Simply our algorithm involves parsing a Web server’s log file, identifying each Web page viewed and saving an ordered list of referrers within a 'name–matched' XML file. This file is then used as a link point within a standard XHTML Web–page using a freely available Javascript library. While we have not performed any comprehensive user evaluation initial qualitative results suggest users are positive regarding our additions and that widespread adoption would increase user satisfaction due to constancy of the browsing experience.

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Experiments Towards Reverse Linking on the Web

  1. 1. Experiments Toward Reverse Linking on the Web Yeliz Yesilada, Darren Lunn and Simon Harper Information Management Group University of Manchester
  2. 2. Links and Browsing <ul><li>Links Allow Movement in Information Space </li></ul><ul><li>Etymology of Browsing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To nibble at leaves, tender shoots, or other soft vegetation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A User Is In Control of What to Read or Examine </li></ul>
  3. 3. Current Web Model <ul><li>Closed Hypermedia System </li></ul><ul><li>Links Embedded Within the Document By The Author </li></ul><ul><li>Outbound Uni-Directional Links </li></ul><ul><li>Limits the Users Browsing Experience </li></ul>A B C
  4. 4. Bi-Directional Linking <ul><li>Used in Open Hypermedia Systems </li></ul><ul><li>Users Can Travel in Both Directions </li></ul><ul><li>Links Stored in a Separate Link Base </li></ul><ul><li>Links Generated Dynamically </li></ul>? A B ?
  5. 5. Existing Bi-Directional Web Linking <ul><li>Back Button </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses the Browser Cache </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User Only Knows About Pages Previously Visited </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Surfing The Web Backwards (Chakrabati ‘99) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Netscape Browser Extension </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web Server Extension </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trackback </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An Acknowledgement Between Sites that a Link Exists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Both Sites Need to Be Trackback Enabled </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Our Approach <ul><li>Use Web Logs To Establish Who Links To Our Website </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced Spam Threat as Users Must Click on a Link </li></ul><ul><li>Links Available to Any JavaScript Supporting Browser </li></ul>
  7. 7. Architecture <ul><li>User Clicks A Link To Request a Web Page </li></ul>Web Page + Browser Client-Side Web Server Server-Side 1
  8. 8. Architecture <ul><li>Server Records Request </li></ul>Web Page + Browser Client-Side Web Server Log File Server-Side 2
  9. 9. Architecture <ul><li>Log Processor Parses Log To Create Linkbase </li></ul>Web Page + Browser Client-Side Web Server Log File Log Processor Pages.xml Server-Side 3
  10. 10. Architecture <ul><li>Link Base is Added To Page </li></ul>Web Page + Browser Client-Side Web Server Log File Log Processor Pages.xml Pages.html Server-Side 4
  11. 11. Architecture <ul><li>Web page Plus Reverse Links Sent To User </li></ul>Web Page + Browser Client-Side Web Server Log File Log Processor Pages.xml Pages.html Server-Side 5
  12. 12. User Follows Link (1)
  13. 13. Server Creates Web Log (2) <ul><li>Web Server Logs HTTP Requests </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Page Requested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Destination Client of the Requested Page </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also Logs Additional Information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Page Where the User Clicked the Link to Request Page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Client Platform </li></ul></ul><ul><li>W3C Extended Log File Format </li></ul>
  14. 14. Example Web Log 01: 02: - 03: - 04: [08/Aug/2007:18:30:39 +0000] 05: &quot;GET /ht07/index.php HTTP/1.1&quot; 06: 200 07: 3811 08: &quot; 09: &quot;Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; en-GB;) Gecko/20061204 Firefox/;
  15. 15. Linkbase Creation (3) <ul><li>Parse the Log File for Referrer / Get Request Pairs </li></ul><ul><li>Create Simple XML File </li></ul><ul><li>Each Webpage has a Corresponding XML Linkbase </li></ul><ul><ul><li>index.php  index.xml </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Individual XML Linkbases Allow </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced Processing on the Server </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced Delay on the Client </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Example Linkbase (index.xml) <linkbase> <link> <title> Home page of Mark Bernstein </title> <url> </url> </link> <link> <title> HCI Conference and Workshops </title> <url> </url> </link> <link> <title> D-Lib Workshops and Conferences: 2007 </title> <url> </url> </link> . . . </linkbase>
  17. 17. Links Added To The Page (4) <ul><li>Add JavaScript To Each Webpage </li></ul><ul><li>Widely Supported By Most Browser Software </li></ul><ul><li>When Page is Loaded, Look For Corresponding Linkbase </li></ul><ul><li>Extracts Links From Linkbase </li></ul><ul><li>Add Links to Page </li></ul>
  18. 18. Displaying Links - Menu (5) <ul><li>As Part of the Menu </li></ul><ul><li>Immediately Available For Use </li></ul><ul><li>Menu Size Increases Significantly </li></ul>
  19. 19. Displaying Links - Menu (5)
  20. 20. Displaying Links - Breadcrumb (5) <ul><li>Breadcrumbs Act As Navigation Aids </li></ul><ul><li>They Inform Users Where They Are Within a Website </li></ul><ul><li>Reverse Links Recommend Common Paths To Get To The Current Page </li></ul><ul><li>Add A “Recommender” Extension To The Breadcrumb Trail </li></ul>
  21. 21. Displaying Links - Breadcrumb (5)
  22. 22. Evaluation <ul><li>Technical Evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In the Lab </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Live on the Hypertext Website </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No User Evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Previous Work has Show Reverse Linking Can Enhance Web Browsing [Chakrabati ‘99] </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Issues To Address <ul><li>How Often Should The Log File be Parsed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too Frequent - May slow down the server speed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too Infrequent - Links may be out of date </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monthly - Anecdotally this seemed to work OK </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How Do We Manage The Link Box Size? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We only added links that occurred more than once </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Could use time to keep only the most recently followed links </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Issues To Address <ul><li>Can Fine Grained Linking Be Achieved? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We link to the page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it possible to link to fragments eg Blogs? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How Do We Ensure Link Quality? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some referrers were password protected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some pages had been relocated eg Blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some pages might be spam </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Conclusions <ul><li>Reverse Linking Is Possible Using Server Logs </li></ul><ul><li>Our Technique is Platform Independent </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance Users Browsing Experience </li></ul><ul><li>This Is A First Step - More Investigation Is Required </li></ul>
  26. 26. Questions