Tool reviews on DiRT

The DiRT Directory is giving reviews a more prominent place on the on the site by providing a new tool review feature that allows users to publish extensive reviews or point to reviews published elsewhere. This overhaul will provide valuable perspective for scholars who are trying to decide between multiple options with similar functionality. The DiRT directory has always provided a way for users to comment on tools, but a small comment box appended to a tool profile is not a good fit for publishing thorough, detailed tool reviews.

There are many places where one could publish a tool review, ranging from personal and course blogs to university resource guides for digital humanities. Most of these options have shortcomings that relate to visibility and/or persistence. Learning management systems, where many reviews written in a classroom context are “published”, are generally closed to the public and made inaccessible to the users within a few months or years. Personal blogs and websites may be maintained over a longer time period, but unless the site appears among the top Google results for a query about the tool being reviewed, it may not actually influence anyone.

Reviews published on DiRT will appear in a “Reviews” tab as part of the profile of the tool (or tools) described in the review. The review form can be used in two different ways. Tool reviews that don’t exist elsewhere, or that the author would like republished on DiRT, can be published in their entirety. Alternately, users can put in the URL and author’s name for externally-published reviews.

Interested in reviewing a tool? Log into DiRT, go to the “Contribute” menu item, and click on “Add a review” in the dropdown menu. The DiRT tool review form includes a number of questions to consider when writing a review, based on guidelines used by the TAPoR directory of text analysis tools. For a good example, check out DiRT editorial board member Michelle Schwartz’s review of TimeMapper.

Note: This is the fourth in a series of announcements about new features and developments for the DiRT directory, coming daily through March 27th. We've previously covered our affiliation with centerNet, integration with DHCommons and Spanish translation work. Check back for more "dirt" on DiRT!