, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 183-207
Date: 02 Mar 2011

The SHARC framework for data quality in Web archiving

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Abstract

Web archives preserve the history of born-digital content and offer great potential for sociologists, business analysts, and legal experts on intellectual property and compliance issues. Data quality is crucial for these purposes. Ideally, crawlers should gather coherent captures of entire Web sites, but the politeness etiquette and completeness requirement mandate very slow, long-duration crawling while Web sites undergo changes. This paper presents the SHARC framework for assessing the data quality in Web archives and for tuning capturing strategies toward better quality with given resources. We define data quality measures, characterize their properties, and develop a suite of quality-conscious scheduling strategies for archive crawling. Our framework includes single-visit and visit–revisit crawls. Single-visit crawls download every page of a site exactly once in an order that aims to minimize the “blur” in capturing the site. Visit–revisit strategies revisit pages after their initial downloads to check for intermediate changes. The revisiting order aims to maximize the “coherence” of the site capture(number pages that did not change during the capture). The quality notions of blur and coherence are formalized in the paper. Blur is a stochastic notion that reflects the expected number of page changes that a time-travel access to a site capture would accidentally see, instead of the ideal view of a instantaneously captured, “sharp” site. Coherence is a deterministic quality measure that counts the number of unchanged and thus coherently captured pages in a site snapshot. Strategies that aim to either minimize blur or maximize coherence are based on prior knowledge of or predictions for the change rates of individual pages. Our framework includes fairly accurate classifiers for change predictions. All strategies are fully implemented in a testbed and shown to be effective by experiments with both synthetically generated sites and a periodic crawl series for different Web sites.