Orthogate - The
Rationale For An Internet Gateway Site In Orthopaedics
Contact Person: Myles Clough (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Fig 1 shows the readership of www.orthogate.com main page from April to October 1998
Links to Orthogate and Orthogate Sites from the rest of the Internet are noted in table 2. The following sites were searched for in AltaVista using "link:www.orthogate.*" (for example) as the search string. A sample of the webpages linking to the orthogate site was examined and classified as "Internal" if it was also an Orthogate site or one of the founding sites.
Table 2 Number of Links to Orthogate Sites (Oct.10th 1998)
* Indicates a "wildcard" in the search string. Thus www.orthogate.* will collect links to www.orthogate.org and www.orthogate.com The search also picks up links which are longer than the specified string; thus www.orthogate.org/manifest.htm will be picked up by searching for www.orthogate.*
Note the well established foundation sites, BoneHome, Wheeless, Belgian Orthoweb, Hand World (formerly Eaton Hand Surgery), World Ortho and the original OWL site are linked to by a large number (>100) of pages outside the Orthogate Project itself. By contrast the newer sites in the Orthogate project have fewer links overall and a high proportion of these are from other Orthogate sites. This is particularly true of OWL at Orthogate and ISOST.
Contrast this with other orthopaedic "library" and links collection sites selected from the Hardin Meta Directory list of Orthopaedic 27 sites with large links collections. Very few of these links are internal to the site; all have links from the Orthogate group of pages.
*These sites are referenced 27 - 34
None of these index pages compares in scale to the OWL/Orthogate/Orthosearch/Orthoguide database of over 3000 orthopaedic links. However several of them receive substantial attention in terms of pages linking to them from elsewhere on the Internet. All of these pages are parts of larger collections of medical and other links and will remain on the Internet in competition with Orthogate because of their intent to cover the whole of medicine.
The quality criteria which guide Orthogate are founded on the OMNI list of quality criteria 64 . These have been accepted by the project as a whole as an ideal to strive for (Table 4). The OMNI criteria are grouped under the headings of Context Evaluation, Content Evaluation, and Access Evaluation. We have added some general categories, the appeal of a site to the international and multilevel users of Orthogate and adherence by the site to medical ethics, particularly non-interference with existing doctor-patient relationships and the maintainance of confidentiality.
Table 4 Quality Criteria
The criteria for inclusion in the OWL list of links has always been much
looser, viz. the editors' opinion that the resource would be of interest to orthopaedic
surgeons and/or, patients. The above criteria are seen as a possible structure for
evaluating the quality of the material referred to. It is not currently practical to apply
these criteria to all 3000 sites listed in OWL. We see three levels of adherence to these
ambitious standards. Material posted on Orthogate "in house" should comply with
these criteria; resources which can be fully evaluated, should be posted and notified as
compliant with our standards or not as the case might be. Other sites which have not been
evaluated against these standards should have no comment attached. As the sites listed
with Orthogate undergo review it is hoped to increase the proportion which have been
evaluated. Meanwhile the criteria themselves and the practicality of applying them will be
Table 5 Comparison between Quality Criteria of Internet sites
Relationship between ISOST and Orthogate
Construction and maintenance of a gateway site is exhausting, time consuming and expensive. With an annual budget projected in the hundreds of thousands (US$) for staff, equipment and administration, it is clear that the project cannot be financed solely from the founders. Nor, with the number of other interested orthopaedic surgeons amounting to about 100 can this group carry the costs for long. Unless this effort is rapidly recognised by the granting agencies as worthy of academic support and funding, the only viable source of funds is commercial. We envisage sponsorship and advertising on the site and some user-pay services in addition to the free gateway services. These could include provision of full text journal articles, consulting for web site construction, help with searches for orthopaedic material and the hosting of CME material. The need for large amounts of money makes it likely that venture capital would be the most likely start-up source and that in its turn means that the site must be run for profit. This aspect is in apparant conflict with the group's desire that the site be run for the benefit of the subject of orthopaedics. We felt that some conflict was inevitable but that our aims could be sustained if the Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma operated as a non-profit learned society analagous to the other subspecialty societies in our speciality. ISOST would then have direction and policy control over the site but licence the running of it to a for-profit management corporation (Orthogate Inc.) The creation and delineation of these institutions has taken up a lot of time and attention but we believe that the foundation of the project (ownership of the intellectual property) must be secure before we advance very far. ISOST will have many other activities apart from directing Orthogate; papers for the inaugural scientific meeting in Febuary 1999 have already been called for.
© 1998 Author(s) Hold Copyright