It's All About The Cards: Sharing on Social Media Probably Encouraged HTML Metadata Growth

by   Shawn M. Jones, et al.

In a perfect world, all articles consistently contain sufficient metadata to describe the resource. We know this is not the reality, so we are motivated to investigate the evolution of the metadata that is present when authors and publishers supply their own. Because applying metadata takes time, we recognize that each news article author has a limited metadata budget with which to spend their time and effort. How are they spending this budget? What are the top metadata categories in use? How did they grow over time? What purpose do they serve? We also recognize that not all metadata fields are used equally. What is the growth of individual fields over time? Which fields experienced the fastest adoption? In this paper, we review 227,726 HTML news articles from 29 outlets captured by the Internet Archive between 1998 and 2016. Upon reviewing the metadata fields in each article, we discovered that 2010 began a metadata renaissance as publishers embraced metadata for improved search engine ranking, search engine tracking, social media tracking, and social media sharing. When analyzing individual fields, we find that one application of metadata stands out above all others: social cards – the cards generated by platforms like Twitter when one shares a URL. Once a metadata standard was established for cards in 2010, its fields were adopted by 20 reached more than 95 like and Dublin Core by a fair margin. When confronted with these results on how news publishers spend their metadata budget, we must conclude that it is all about the cards.


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