MIA: Volunteer: Administrator's Handbook

If you have questions about anything below, write the Steering Committee.

Administrative Guidelines for Volunteers

1. Mentoring of New Volunteers and Quality Control

When a new volunteer joins the MIA a more experienced mentor will be selected for them, to guide them trough learning HTML, server access and other MIA protocols. The new volunteer must remain in constant communication with and respond promptly to messages from the mentor.

All volunteers will regularly use the Custom Link Report immediately after uploading of any file or batch of files to the MIA server. This Report is located:


This is a requirement to reduce bad or incorrectly formatted links in files thats show up on the group Link Report located here:


Technical Guide to Archive Administration Part I

This technical guide covers what you need to know to be an administrator in two parts, this first part deals with directory and file naming and book bibliography, while the second part goes over html guidelines. Otherwise, we have a couple paragraphs in the Bylaws that describe the few organisational responsibilities of an Archive Administrator.

2. Use of MicroSoft Word

The use of HTML files created directly from MS Word is forbidden on the MIA. Some exceptions on a case-by-case basis for non-Latin charcter based languages will be considered by the Admin Comm.

MS Word is a powerful cross-platform word processor. It is allowed for the basic HTML formatting of documents because of it’s extensive macro program and powerful “Find and Replace” capabilities. But documents “Saved” as a .htm or .hml file in this program have huge, unwieldy, non-standard HTML. Without further processing (eg by the use of the ‘Tidy’ program or application of appropriate macros or script to strip out the MS-specific markup) to produce MIA-acceptable html, these files are not to be uploaded.

3. Introduction to the MIA Directory Structure

A directory is another word for a folder. Just as you make folders on your computer to organize your own documents, we use folders on Marxists.org to arrange the documents in our library. These directories, as we call them, are the digital equivalent of a library bookshelf. We set up directories in a way that makes cataloguing and finding works easy, just as the library uses the Dewey Decimal System.

One way to understand a directory structure is by thinking of a tree. We start at the base, and as we climb up, the structure branches off into different sections. This is much like your own computer, when you open up your hard drive, you see a few main folders, which contain many sub-folders, and so on up the tree. On MIA, our core folders are the main sections we have — the Marxist writers archive is contained in the directory named "archive", the History Archive is in the directory "history", and so on. When we enter an address into a web browser, we are specifying what directory we want to go into. So if we go to:


We are going into the "archive" directory on our server -- what we have setup as the Marxist Writers archive. Inside this directory on our server, we have directories for every author. So, if we want to read on Che Guevara for example, we just specify his directory:


As a volunteer, you can see that up to this point things have already been set up for you. Your task is to setup the directory structure of your author correctly. This is actually a pretty easy task, and you'll soon find it is very sensible. We place documents into a structure that tells us when the document was written. So the first level is making directories by year -- if you have some works written in 1960 and 1962 for example, make two directories for those years. Inside every year directory are directories numbered after each month, so January is a directory named 01, December is 12, and so on. The document that you have transcribed is then put inside the proper year/month directory. So how do you name that file?

Important Note: Use only standard characters and numbers in file or directory names — do not use any spaces (use a hyphen instead); do not put any kind of punctuation in the filename. Keep all letters lowercase. These things are very important to follow to keep the server working properly! :)

File naming system: Single page documents, which we generally consider to be any file under 50 KB, are named for the date they were written. If a document was written on the second day of January 1951, the file name is 02.htm. It is easy, but there are variations — multiple documents written on the same date, books written over years — and the examples below show examples of where documents belong. Feel free to refer to the Che Guevara or Fidel Castro archives, which have various examples of this in practice.

For Single Page Documents

Written: 1905, January 9:


If a second document is written on the same date:


If written date is over multiple dates, list it when the document was completed. For example: 1905, January 20-22:


If a file is an abstract, i.e. not a full document but only selections of that document, for example written in 1959, on April 18:


If there is no known date:

1.) If it is a newspaper article that was clearly written about when it was published, then name it for the date published.

2.) If the publishing date is unreasonable (i.e. clearly sometime after it had been written):

a.) if the year and month of the document is reasonably known, then place it in the appropriate year/month directory. Name the file with the document's title. Do not include the words "on", "the", "in", etc.

b.) if the month is unknown, make a misc/ directory in that year, and name the document as above.

c.) if the year is unknown, create a misc/ directory inside the main archive, and name the document as above.

For Books, Pamphlets & Multi-page Articles

We try to make all documents over 50 KB (i.e. about 25 pages on paper), into a book for easier reading. Every book has its own directory, which is named with the title of the work, without the words "on", "the", "in", etc. If the book was written within a single month, such as On the Freedom of the Press: 1842, May:


If the book was written over a period of months or years, put the work in the year it was finished, for example for the work: The Civil War in France, written from July 1870 to May 1871:


All chapters, no matter how they may be called by the author (whether sections, parts, chapters, etc.), should be labeled in an abbreviated form of the word Chapter for the appropriate language.

In English:

A Book's introduction, preface, or appendix, should be named accordingly, so:


On occasion, when working with a large book, if the chapter is bigger than 50 kB you need to split it into separate sections. When this is done, make the same chapter file as above, which contains an index linking to all the sections. Then, make a directory for the chapter, and simply number each section:


That's it! Please keep in mind that this structure has been a work of logical art, flowing and changing over the years. This basic structure was first implemented with the complete rebuilding of the Lenin Internet Archive in 1999, from the summer of 2001 to the summer of 2002 this structure had been static, with changes being made to how to deal with unknown dates. As noted above, two archives that are in full compliance to this structure are Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, the Lenin archive has some inconsistencies, as we worked out quite alot of bugs while building that archive. Other archives have different structures and are moving to this structure at different paces — the Marx & Engels Archive completed revising all documents transcribed before 1850 into this structure at the beginning of 2002. If you have an archive that doesn't follow this structure, we suggest that you follow this system for all new material, but feel free to keep old material where it is. If you are making a new archive, definitely start with this structure, as many of our new, smaller archives, have been doing.

4. Bibliographical Information

It is absolutely essential that every volunteer practice good book keeping skills by always transcribing the following information about any book or article that is transcribed.

In your web browser select view source, or download this page so that you can copy and paste the HTML. The green text below is used only for illustrative purposes, not as a formatting suggestion! :)

Written: Even if you do not have this date, you should leave this place holder, and remark [...].
First Published: Publsher name and date of publication. If unknown, then make that clear. If you have neither written nor published date, be sure you've done your best to find the answer before remarking them both as [...]. This category is only necessary when the Source is not the original.
Source: All the details of the book your transcription is from, including title, author, editor, publisher, date published, and publishing location.
Translated: Note the original language of the book, and what the original was translated into, etc, in addition to the name of the translator. This category is only necessary for translated works.
Transcription/Markup: Credit the volunteers who have worked on this publication.
Proofread: Credit the volunteers who have helped proofread this work, with link to your original scan if possible, and encourage more volunteers to proof. This category is only necessary for large works, since the transcriber/markup volunteers should catch all typos in small documents.

Choose one of the following four legal notices, depending on the legal status of your publication:
Public Domain: xxxxx Internet Archive 2005. This work is completely free.
Copyright: xxxPublisherxxx, © xxyearxx. Published on MIA with the permission of xxxPublisherxxx. xxxxx Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2005.
Copyleft: Creative Commons (Attribute & Share-alike) xxxxx Internet Archive 2005.
Fair Use: xxxxx Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2005. This document has been reproduced in accordance to § 107 of Title 17 in US Copyright Law. Particularly, we wish to convey to reader's that the above mentioned book has relevant material on the subject of xxxxx, on pages xxxxx. Enclosed is a sample of such material.


Go to Part II: HTML Guidelines

Contact the Marxists Internet Archive Admin Committee for further information