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ELSNET Directories: FAQ

The ELSNET directories

General questions

Q: What is ELSNET?

ELSNET is the European Network of Human Language Technologies, a non-commercial organisation, created with support from the European Commission. Please visit our website at http://www.elsnet.org for more information

Q: What is the purpose of the ELSNET directories?

The directories of language and speech technology experts and organisations are intended to provide better access to knowledge and expertise in these areas, both for people working in the language and speech technology fields, and for people who want to make use of these technologies. We do not intend to directly promote or advertize end user products and services (but see 'sponsored links' below).

Q: I see that my name or my organisation are listed in your directory. Who did this?

The directories started as an initiative by the Speech Technology Network (STN) and were taken over by ELSNET when STN ceased its operations. If you are included it is either because you (or your organisation) were added to the directory by STN, or because you did it yourself during the STN period or after the takeover by ELSNET. It is ELSNET's policy never to make any additions to the directories by itself. Only the experts themselves or organisation representatives can make such additions.

Q: I see that my name and my organisation are NOT listed in your directory. Why not?

Most probably because you have never taken the trouble to add your personal or company profile. If you or your organisation offer specific expertise in or related to language or speech technology you  can add your expert profile or your organisation profile. Just click on the appropriate link and you will see a blank form. Complete it and click on 'Add this profile'. This will give you a confirmation screen where you can check the data you provided and approve it by clicking the 'Send' button.

Q: We are not involved in language or speech technology. Can we be listed?

Not for free, unless you are a
- a Call or Contact Center or
- a Translation or Localisation company

Q: We are the best software developers or consultants in the world. Can we be listed in the directory?

No. Only organisations or experts offering specific expertise in language and or speech technology are entitled to a free listing in our directories. We use a broad definition, but software developers, printer cartridge manufacturers and astrologists will generally not be included although we do allow for a limited number of sponsored links (see below).

Q: We are the biggest Call Center in India and I see that you have listed many of our smaller competitors. Why can't we be listed in your directory?

You can. We have set up a special directory of Call and Contact Centers, and no special expertise in Language or Speech Technology is required to be listed there. Call Centers can be included in the general directory if they deploy specific language or speech technologies to support or facilitate their operations. Please indicate these technologies explicitly in your profile.

Q: Do we have to pay for inclusion in your directories?

No. Inclusion is entirely free for experts and organisations offering specific expertise in language or speech technology (research, development, integration, deployment, etc), for Call and Contact Centers and for Translation or Localisation companies. Organisations not offering such expertise, but active in areas that might be of interest to the language and speech technology community at large as potential providers or customers or otherwise (e.g. consultancy, software development, recruitment, professional training) may apply for inclusion of their profile as a 'sponsored link'. See our sponsorship page or contact us for more information.

Q: Can we advertise our products in our profile description on your site.

No. The site is intended to give other people access to specific expertise related to language and speech technology in a very broad sense. You are of course allowed to describe your products and services in a very generic way to show what sort of business you are in, but we do not accept direct ads or price quotes for products or services. If you want to include ads for language and speech technology products or services, you can apply for a 'sponsored link'. Contact us for more information.

Q: Will you publish sponsored links?

Yes, but only to a very limited extent: there has to be a clear connection with language and speech technology (see items above) and the number of such items will be limited. Publication of sponsored links is not free. Read this page or contact us for more information.

Q: Will we receive any mass mailings from ELSNET or third parties?

No, we will never send out any mass mailings to you, except for the maintenance of the directories. Your information is published on the web, but will never be handed over to third parties.

Q: This looks like an interesting collection of people and organisations. What would it cost us to buy a copy of your database?

Sorry, we don't provide copies of the database to third parties. You can freely use the public information we publish on the web, but nothing more than that, even if you would offer us an awful lot of money for it ...

Managing entries

Q: I have left the business and I want to delete my entry. How do I do that?

All entries have a link called 'update your profile' (or similar) at the bottom of the table presenting your data. Just click on it and you will see the update form. One of the options on the bottom line is to delete the entry.

Q: I wanted to delete my entry, but I am told that my password is incorrect. What do I do?

Every entry is password protected. A default password (normally a string of digits) is assigned when the entry is submitted, unless you provide your own password. It will normally be displayed after the confirmation dialogue. If you have lost it, there is a link on the update page to send us an email to retrieve your password. As we want to check the validity of these requests they are processed by hand. In order to facilitate this we ask you to send this message using your company account rather than a free account. You will normally get a reply within one or two working days.

Q: My entry is obsolete, and I want to update it. How do I do that?

Go to the entry, click on the 'update your profile' link and make the appropriate changes in the update form. Make sure to fill in your password (often referred to as 'update password'), and click on the 'update' button. You will then see a confirmation screen that should reflect all the changes you made. If you click on the 'Send' button the new record will be forwarded to us, for approval and inclusion in the database. If you don't click on 'Send', no changes will be made.

Q: I have successfully updated my entry, but it doesn't seem to have changed. How is that possible?

Like password requests, all updates are checked by hand, in order to ensure integrity of the data (both in content and in format). Normally updated entries are validated within one or two working days, but it may take a bit longer during holiday periods.

Q: I want to add a new entry, how do I do that?

At the bottom of every directory page you will find links entitled "Add your expert profile" and "Add your organisation profile". Just click on the appropriate one and you will see a blank form. Complete it and click on 'Add this profile'. This will give you a confirmation screen where you can check the data you provided and approve it by clicking the 'Send' button.

Q: I submitted an entry but I got an email asking me for more details about our specific language and speech technology expertise. Why?

The whole idea behind the directories is to provide access to specific expertise in the fields of language and speech technology. We don't want to pollute our directories with entries that have nothing specific to offer in these fields. If you want to advertize your consultancy company, your cheap printer cartridges, your software development capabilities, etc, you have to look for another place, or for a sponsored link if you can explain what your connection is with language and speech technology.

Q: As we are mainly active in the Francophone parts of the world I submitted an entry in French, but it was rejected. Why?

The language of our directories is English (American, UK, or even Euro-English). We don't accept entries in French, Frisian, Finnish or other exotic languages. We are equally fond of all 6000 languages in the world, but in order to be able to ensure that we are not including entries with inappropriate content we have decided to stick to English. You may still find a few obsolete entries in exotic languages, but they will be deleted during the next cleanup of the directories.

Photographs and logos

Q: On the update form I am asked to provide a photograph. Why?

Human interest, basically. I like to be able to put a face to the person I'm exchanging emails with, and I'm also curious to see what my favourite celebrities look like. I'm pretty sure that many people feel the same way.

Q: How do I get my photograph to you?

One way is to send it to me by email, preferably in .gif or .jpg format, not too big. Alternatively you can put a photograph on your own site, and give us the URL on the update form. The obvious advantage is that it is easy for you to replace it if you no longer like it, or if you no longer look like it.

Q: Organisations are asked to provide a logo. Why?

Logos are a good instrument to make organisations easy to recognize, and we would very much like to have logos for all organisations in our directory.

Q: How do I get our logo to you?

Same as with photographs above.

Q: Our company spent a million euros on the design of this wonderful logo of ours, and on your screen I cannot even read the company name on it. Can't you change that?

As all logos have different sizes some of them would really mess up the whole table if we displayed them in their real size. Therefore we have simply allocated a fixed width of 100 pixels to each logo. If your logo happens to require a high resolution it won't look very pretty, but very often (especially if you have paid a lot for it) there will be low resolution variants that can survive photocopying or faxing. Just use one of those instead.

Q: I am sure that I gave you a URL for my photograph or my company's logo, but on your page I see a broken image symbol. Why is that?

The most common mistake is that people give us the URL of the company or private homepage that contains the picture instead of the URL of the picture itself. In Mozilla you can just right-click on the picture, copy the image location and paste it in the update form. I am pretty confident that there is a similar facility in Internet Explorer unless of course this is one of the things Microsoft has decided users shouldn't be doing.

Q: I'm sure I sent you my photograph ages ago, but it is no longer visible. What has happened?

Sorry for that. We had a major crash at the end of 2002, and we lost almost our whole collection of photographs. Please send us a new one, or use the update form to provide us with a URL we can refer to. Please do not forget to give your expert ID number.

Functionality

Q: What does the search facility at the bottom do?

It is a very simple word-initial case-insensitive search through all the fields. You can also use most regular expressions. Tildes can be used to represent spaces within phrases.  The search will not see documents (e.g. expert CVs) located elsewhere. The results are ordered by the date of the last update, most recently updated entries first.

Q: I hate frames. Why do you use them?

I hate them too, but the frame-based lists of experts and organisations allow you to view several profiles without having to reload the (very long) lists of entries. Saves time and bandwidth.

Q: When I click on an expert or organisation profile nothing seems to happen. Why is that?

In order to avoid re-loading of the long page containing all experts or organisations by country or in alphabetic order, individual profiles appear in a new window. Depending on your browser this window may or may not become your foreground window, so if nothing seems to happen you may want to check one of the other windows you have open. This problem will be corrected as soon as I have figured out how to do it.

Q: I want to print an entry, but the result looks very awkward. What should I do?

Go to the bottom of the screen, where you will always see the following 4 display options: [no frame][table][frames][print], and click on[print]

Problems

Q: I am entering or updating my data and on the confirmation screen I get all sorts of warning messages. What should I do?

Warnings can be ignored, although sometimes they may point to omissions (e.g. no acronym for your organisation, or no URL) or to the absence of your organisation in our directory (we assume that if a company has experts in language and speech technology, the company itself might also be seen as an important player in the field).

Q: I am entering or updating my data and on the confirmation screen I get a fatal error message. What should I do?

Fatal error messages can not be ignored, because the system refuses to accept the revised profile. In most cases the message is self-explanatory (we hope).

Q: I am updating my profile and on the confirmation screen I get a fatal error message telling me that my activity or organisation type does not belong to a known category -- and I am sure that I haven't changed it.

That is precisely the problem: in the past you were free to describe your organisation and activity type in your own terms. As this led to a proliferation of types we now offer you a selection from a predefined set of categories. If you click on the black triangle on the right side of the box you will see the list. They are all numbered. Your original description will be visible at the top of the list, but if it is not preceded by a number you cannot select in anymore. You have to select one of the numbered items.

Q: I have updated my company profile and I am sure I  described our activity type as "Call center with specific expertise in Language or Speech Technology".  On the site I see that with has been changed to without. Who has taken away our expertise, and why?

We did that. On the web form you are asked to give a brief description of your specific language or speech technology expertise. If you do not provide such a description, we assume that this expertise is non-existent. Telling the world that you have expertise in something without revealing what it is, is not very helpful for visitors of the page who are looking for specific expertise in the field of language or speech technology.

Q: I am deleting an entry, and the system gives me warnings or even fatal error messages about missing or ill-formed information. Isn't that a bit silly?

Yes, it was a bit silly, but it should no longer happen.

Q: I am filling in the form, and I am asked to provide the four digit ID for my organisation (or my own four digit ID when filling in the form for my organisation). Where do I find it?

If you are on the experts page you can just go to the organisations page, and use the search facility at the bottom to find your organisation. The four digit ID number is displayed in the very first cell of the table [ ID = 9999 ]. Same for experts. Provided they are already included in the directories. If this is not the case we recommend you to add them.

Q: I see two entries for my organisation, with different dates and numbers, and basically the same information. What do I do?

Unfortunately we have some duplicate entries. Please notify us, tell us which one has to be deleted, and update the other one (if necessary).

Q: You sent me a letter asking me to update my profile, but I don't remember my password. What to do?

First of all: normally when we send out messages to people asking them to update their records, the password is included in our letter, just one or two lines below the update URL. Many people stop reading as soon as they see a clickable link or when they reach the bottom of the first screen. Just scroll down a little bit, and you will see it! If you can't find it, there is a link on the update page to send us an email to retrieve your password. As we want to check the validity of these requests they are processed by hand. In order to facilitate this we ask you to send this message from your company account rather than from a free account. You will normally get a reply within one or two working days.

Q: When I had made my update and pushed the button on the form I got a message that the password was incorrect, but I was never prompted for a password.

We are not Microsoft, and that means that we leave at least something to your own initiative: you have to enter the password yourself in the slot next to the "update" button at the end of the form. Please note that if you go back to this page after you or the system have rejected your updates, you must normally re-enter your password.

Q: I am sure I made some changes in the lower part of the form (e.g. picture, description, CV), but they don't show on the confirmation page. What did I do wrong?

You probably forgot to tick the radio button in front of the box where you made your changes. If you don't do that, the old values will be retained. The default option is always that there is no change.

Q: I am sure I did everything right, the confirmation page was ok, but the changes don't show on the website. What has happened?

Nothing has happened yet. The procedure is that all updates are sent to me by email, and after a brief check on well-formedness and appropriateness I release them for inclusion in the directory. Normally I do it the same day, but sometimes I am away from work for a while, and in that case the updates have to wait until I return.

Q: My coordinates have changed. Why can't I just send you an email with my new coordinates so that you can include them yourself.

Sorry, it is our policy that the experts (or organisation contacts) take responsibility for their own entries. We may occasionally repair some very superficial errors (e.g. typos in URLs, missing http:// prefix), but that is as far as we go.

Q: I used to be listed as the contact for my company, but I have started my own now, and it would not be appropriate for me to update the record on behalf of my old company. Will you do the update?

No, because normally we wouldn't know about this. In the ideal case contact persons give us a new name before they leave, but more often than not we will only find out when we contact people to ask them to update their entries.

Q: The person in our company who used to be our contact for the listing in the directory has left us to start a new company, but he hasn't given us the password. How do we get it?

Just send us an email that contains the ID number of the organisation. There is a clickable link on the update page that does it for you. Please send this email from your company address rather that from your hotmail or other free account, so that we can be sure that we send the password to a proper representative of your organisation.

Q: I'm working for two different companies, but there is only space for one in the form. What do I do?

Just make two entries for yourself, one for each company.

Q: My name is Mary Mullins, but in the alphabetic lists my name appears under A, so you clearly made a mistake when putting my data on the web.

No, we didn't -- you did. On the form there is a box where you have to indicate the part of the family name that should be used to make alphabetic lists. Normally this is the same as the family name, but in some cases the name starts with a prefix (e.g. "de" or "van" in Dutch names) that should be ignored. Some people put their first name or even their company name in this box, which will lead to unexpected positions in alphabetic lists.

Robots

Q: If you publish my email address on your site, it will be harvested by robots searching for addresses, and I will be swamped with spam. How will you prevent this from happening?

We are very well aware of the problem, and from now on all email addresses will be made less easy to recognize for robots by replacing the @-sign by "_at_". They will still be clickable, but you will have to take one extra step that most robots wouldn't dream of taking spontaneously.

Q: When my search robots try to index your directories they do fine for a while, and then all of a sudden we get nothing but server error messages. There must be something wrong with your server.

No, there is something wrong with you. Well-behaved robots check the file robots.txt before they start indexing, and they will ignore the directories they are told to leave alone. Evil robots or robots constructed by amateurs don't perform this check. If this is detected by our server your robot will be blacklisted permanently, which means that the server will automatically start generating server error messages on all pages containing CGI forms. If the robot persists it will be permanently denied access to all web pages on our sites.

Q: For a while I was able to display entries in your directories without any difficulty, but all of a sudden I am getting server error messages instead. There must be something wrong with the facility.

No, there is something wrong with you. It means that you have been blacklisted, either because you are the owner of an evil robot (see item above), or because you have been caught in trying to use this facility to publish inappropriate content on our site.

Q: For a while I was able to use your messageto facility to send emails to people listed in your directories. Now  I am getting server error messages instead. There must be something wrong with the facility.

No, there is something wrong with you. It means that you have been blacklisted, either because you are the owner of an evil robot (see items above), or because you have been caught in trying to use this facility to send inappropriate content to people's email addresses.

Q: My host name and IP number are on your public blacklist. I find this embarrassing. Could you remove them please?

No.

Spelling

Q: Why do you spell organisation with -s- and not with -z- like everybody else does?

The s/z debate has been going on for a long time, and I'm not sure there is a single answer to the question what the correct variant is. I understand that in US English the -s- spelling isn't really an option, but as we are based in Europe we use UK English as our main reference point, and this seems to give us a choice between -s- and -z- (at least for the time being).

In The Concise OXFORD Dictionary, page 837, you will find: organization .... (also -isation) and if you check the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary you will see that ORGANISATION is described as British variant of ORGANIZATION. I'm not claiming that this is the preferred or most generally used variant, but it appears that both options are open to us. Personally I'm not very consistent in my spelling at all, and neither are my spelling checkers, as some of them are set to UK English and others to US English. I suspect that I have a slight preference for the -s- forms, mainly due to my classical education and my exposure to UK English (although native speakers of UK English have made it clear to me that their s/z system is more refined than just a global preference for -s- forms).

For the time being I will optimistically assume that it will still take a few more years for UK English to be reduced to a local minority language, and I will stick to my spelling of the word organisation.

Server errors and other problems

Q: I am a regular bona fide visitor of your wonderful site and all of a sudden I have started receiving "access denied" or "internal server error" messages. Why is that? 

No, you're not a bona fide visitor and you have been blacklisted. And you should know why. You can check the list here (unless you're blacklisted, of course).

Q: I have another question or problem, or an idea to improve the usability of the directories. Who is the best person to contact?

Me: Steven.Krauwer@elsnet.org


 

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