Table of Contents
- General questions
- What does "GooDiff" mean actually?
- Can you show me an example or screenshot of a change in a document ?
- How can I easily use your service and its information ?
- Where can I find an overview of service providers and/or documents you are …
- Will you monitor service providers other than Google ?
- Do you monitor your own service ?
- Technical questions
- Social questions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does "GooDiff" mean actually?
Well, you might have already guessed that the term GooDiff consists of two parts: Goo, and Diff.
The Goo in GooDiff comes from Gray Goo, which refers to a hypothetical end-of-the-world event involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots (very little, but not very cute) consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves (a scenario known as ecophagy). The term was coined by K. Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation in 1986. A goo is a term for a drippy, shapeless mass, usually moldable and sometimes sticky.
For most of us, legal documents are out-of-control, too, and even very short sentences or nano-sized words in these documents can sometimes spell doom for users such as you and I. In addition, Google was the first service provider monitored at GooDiff, so we thought the Goo prefix would fit well enough. If you ask us, it's also a credit for Google because it shows how much of an impact the company has on our Internet experience today.
The Diff in GooDiff comes from the diff utility and stands for "Difference", i.e. the textual difference of a document at time A and time B. "Diffing" a document means to compare different revisions of it in order to identify changes. The first diff program was shipped in the 5th edition of Unix in 1974 and was written by Douglas MacIlroy.
Can you show me an example or screenshot of a change in a document ?
How can I easily use your service and its information ?
Where can I find an overview of service providers and/or documents you are monitoring?
Currently, you have two options:
- Ease of use, aka "Gourmet selection": If you want ease of use, have a look at the RssFeeds page, which lists the most popular/interesting documents in a simple "table of contents" style. The RssFeeds page is in fact a manually selected subset of the Archive (see below).
- Everything, aka "All you can eat": If you are looking for exhaustive information, you can find all monitored documents in the Archive. Just browse the archive for your documents.
Will you monitor service providers other than Google ?
We build GooDiff in a way that it is easily extendable to other service providers, and we're already monitoring some other web service provider such as Yahoo! or Youtube.
Do you monitor your own service ?
Yes, we do. This information is not available in the Archive though. Instead, we make use of the integrated change tracking capabilities of the software which powers our website, Trac. Every page is automatically under revision control, and even better: the change tracking information is updated in real-time. Just click on the link "Page History" in the upper right corner on every page to see its list of changes, or click on "Recent Changes" to get a chronologically sorted list of changes for all GooDiff pages.
Note that some contents such as the Archive or the List of Changes are automatically generated and do not include the "Page History" and "Recent Changes" links. These special sections on GooDiff.org provide their own means to keep track of changes such as "Revision Logs".
How are you monitoring all these documents ?
The main component of GooDiff is a basic spider application written in Python, the so-called GooDiffMonitor, which will retrieve all monitored documents and web pages from the WWW at regular intervals and convert them into clean, easy-to-read plain ASCII text. The GooDiffMonitor will then update a Subversion repository (which is in fact what you can see in our Archive), if necessary, so that GooDiff users can receive notifications of changes via RSS or other channels.
Is the GooDiffMonitor a robot?
A robot is a program that automatically traverses the Web's hypertext structure by retrieving a document, and recursively retrieving all documents that are referenced.
The GooDiffMonitor is monitoring a small set of selected web documents and stores information about them in an easy-to-read format. The selection of documents for the monitoring task is done by human users. The GooDiffMonitor cannot and does not break out of his pre-defined way.
If this is all too technical for you, here is another (funny) way to put it.
Web Robots are female
Just like women in a shopping mall, web robots automatically run from place to place and take a look at everything they can find and turn it upside down. If they are done with one place, they will continue with the next. It's important to stress that there is no end to this process: they will never be "done" as they want to be sure they have analyzed every little object out there (think shoes) before they can finally take a rest.
Monitors are male
Monitors are the opposite of robots. Monitors are male. Unlike their female counterpart, monitors are not able to do anything on their own. If you let them out (remember the shopping mall), they absolutely require a fixed-size list of clearly defined things to find (buy) or they will get stuck and eventually lost. If you violate the rule of coming up with the buying list first, they will not be able to complete their task; instead, they will call you in despair and ask a lot of weird questions.
Which software do you use to run this website ?
The web frontend (aka the home page) of GooDiff is powered by Trac, an enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Though it's not 100% perfect for our task, most of the things we need for publishing GooDiff content is already implemented in Trac. We prefered to start with a ready-to-use, well-tested software application and rather customize it to our needs than to write our own content management system from scratch.
Is GooDiff free software ?
Yes, the goodiff-core is a free software released under the GNU Affero General Public License. We have also published the goodiff-frontend including the modification to Trac. The development of GooDiff is available on gitorious.org. There is also a dedicated wiki for the development and the experimentation around GooDiff.
Who are the people behind the GooDiff service ?
If you are curious to find out about our team, a short description is available on About GooDiff.
How can I help you ?
Your help is welcome and you could give us a hand in the following area :
- Send us urls of legal documents of Internet service provider that you would like to see in GooDiff (we can't promise anything but we'll do our best)
- Report us any anomalies of the GooDiff service (e.g. incorrect urls, missed legal documents, ...)
- Feel free to send us any enhancement that you would like to see
I'm an Internet service provider, how can I help you (and the users) ?
- Give us an official and public url list of your legal document
- Be friendly to users and other application reading (or getting) your legal document :
- Use static pages
- Keep the same url regarding your legal document at least for the lifetime of the service you provide
- Use a consistent and constant layout of the legal document
- Avoid very fancy pages, focus on readability to be absolutely clear
Can you clean up my shower ?
Nope, sorry. We are not providing such kind of services. We are just "diffing" digital documents, no bathroom is involved in the process.