EDGI’s Website Monitoring Team is made up of volunteer analysts who monitor thousands of environmental, climate, and energy webpages for changes on a weekly basis. The software we use presents any changes to webpages from the previous week to analysts for inspection. Analysts then code the changes on the webpage to help determine if the change is significant or not. Significance is broadly interpreted as a change in access to information or a semantically significant shift in how information is presented. These changes can manifest in the form of text, link, and image alterations, as well as webpage, document, and entire website overhauls and removals. If a change is substantially significant, it is discussed amongst the Website Monitoring Team and, after stages of inspection and vetting to determine that the change is being interpreted properly, a report may be written detailing the relevant change(s).
While it was not used in the creation of this report, EDGI is developing new website monitoring software. You can follow along here: https://github.com/edgi-govdata-archiving/web-monitoring
2. Report writing
EDGI documents changes to federal websites by writing comprehensive website monitoring reports. There are two types of reports:
- Access Assessment Reports document removals and overhauls of webpages and websites, and often describe more complicated URL redirects. In addition to detailing what has been altered, these reports also describe how alterations or removals affect access to resources beyond the particular page(s) where changes occurred.
- Content Change Reports document text, link, and other non-text content changes on webpages.
Most of EDGI’s reports document novel, unreported changes to websites. After reports are carefully drafted, every report that breaks news goes through an intensive vetting protocol before being released to the public:
- Technical review - checking that all the technical details in the report are accurate
- Content review - ensuring the website changes are clearly and accurately communicated in the report
- EDGI Steering Committee member sign-off to be sure the report supports EDGI’s values
Some reports follow up on reporting by the news media or civil society organizations. Those reports also undergo the same careful drafting process, followed by a “Technical review.”
Once a report is written, it is sent to a pool of journalists who have indicated their interest in receiving EDGI’s website monitoring reports. We typically use a 48-hour embargo, allowing time for journalists to investigate report content, before reports are released publicly and journalists are permitted to publish about them. EDGI will sometimes work exclusively with journalists in cases where additional targeted investigation will produce more impactful reporting. Read EDGI’s journalist policy here.