Tuesday, April 19, 2005

SBL Forum latest

The April edition of the SBL Forum is now on-line:

SBL Forum

and has gone for a kind of Smorgasboard approach with articles on a variety of topics. Of special interest is the following:

Assimilated to the Blogosphere: Blogging Ancient Judaism
James R. Davila

Great title. I look forward to reading. But as Jim notes on Paleojudaica, the links in his article have been stripped, which is clearly unacceptable. In fact Paleojudaica itself is not even linked. Let's hope that this can be corrected very quickly by the SBL folk.

There's an error on the main page too -- it still says "March 2005" even though it is clearly the April issue.

Update (16.56): Yes, I see what Jim means. Goodness, there's even one sentence that reads, "PaleoJudaica too sometimes posts essays that discuss research ideas in preliminary form, such as this post on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" which explicitly makes no sense without the link. I am afraid that whoever uploaded this to the web has not even read the article, never mind proof read it. As a member of the SBL Forum advisory board, I'll be writing straight away to express my concern about this.

Update (22.28): the link to the essay has been removed from the front page of the forum. Perhaps this swift action indicates that it is to be fixed?

Update (Thursday, 09.15): Jim Davila has an update, "It develops that the XSL now being used to publish Forum articles cannot handle hidden links. I've been discussing this with Sharon Johnson and she agrees that this is a problem that will keep coming up and that needs to be fixed. Their technical people are working on it, but apparently this problem is connected to some others and is fairly complex, so it may take several weeks to solve . . . ." It's good to hear that action is being taken and it's useful that this situation is working as a catalyst to fix the problem in the long term. You really can't have an effective on-line forum that is unable to display links. I have not yet heard back from Sharon myself since I emailed on Tuesday, but I had an acknowledgement from Leonard Greenspoon. Some quick additional comments:

(1) I don't know about XSL, but it seems a serious weakness if it cannot handle hidden links. But I note that it can handle email address links (at the bottom of every SBL Forum article), so could the links not simply be added in in the same way, or the system adjusted so that a hrefs work in the same way as mailto:s? Likewise, I note that the Forum main page works with links; is that XSL generated too? Elsewhere, the SBL site handles external links OK (e.g. Career Services), so perhaps a similar system could be used for the Forum?

(2) The article has not in fact been taken down; it's the link to it on the main page that has been removed.

(3) The volume title and date has been fixed and is now showing April 2005.

Update (28 April): The article is back on-line with the links all in place.

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