When I was asked to help ‘tag’ and index the entire archive of The Review of Religions, I was somewhat daunted by the task. This was partly due to the huge number of thousands of articles that would need to be read but mainly because I didn’t have a clue how to begin. However working with the web-developer and Editor we were able to quickly establish a small team of volunteers and a detailed plan to tackle the task. This small team eventually grew to eleven people from a really diverse range, including working professionals, mothers and students. The ‘Tagging’ itself mainly involved reading all the editions currently available on the site from cover to cover and choosing certain key words from each article. Subsequently, those key words were added as ‘tags’ beneath the online edition of the article. This sounds quite simple, but in reality the team had to dedicate a great deal of time to this work; it required a keen eye and some skill. For example, taggers had to keep themselves aware of the full index of tags, to avoid using conflicting words or spellings, whilst tagging the same subject or person in different articles. As there are currently 699 tags in the index, this was no easy task.
Recently, the tagging team reached its first milestone. By the Grace of Allah, we have now tagged all 243 issues of The Review of Religions that are currently available in the online index. Along the way, quite a few of the team have commented on how delightful it has been to read issues of the magazine from over 100 years ago, many of which contained fascinating and matchless articles written by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). We have also appreciated how much the presentation and layout of the magazine has gradually changed and modernised over the decades. The purpose of this exercise has been that if we now click on any tag, either beneath an article or on the ‘Topics’ page, we will be taken to a list of every article that has been tagged with that word or phrase. So, if we click on the tag ‘Islam,’ we are taken to a list of all the articles currently available on the site, which are about Islam. Also, an alphabetical index of all the tags is now available on the site’s ‘Topics’ page at reviewofreligions.org/topics.
Despite our satisfaction with what has been achieved so far, there still remains a lot of work to be done. There are still hundreds of issues from previous years that will soon be added to the online archive and will need to be tagged. Moreover, we are always looking into ways in which we can improve the existing tags. As such, we would love to hear feedback from the readers of The Review of Religions about how useful or otherwise the tags on the ‘Topics’ page are.
S. Taalay Ahmad is the Team Leader of the Indexing & Tagging Project. He is a member of the “Waqfe Nau” scheme and is currently studying MA in journalism at Sunderland University. Email: email@example.com