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Research: Online Service Provider Assessment Project: Methodology
The latest version of this document is available online at http://www.onlinepolicy.org/research/ospa/methodology.htm.
The appendixes are confidential and provided only on an as-needed basis to staff and volunteers actually monitoring online service providers.
The goal of this online service assessment methodology is to produce reports about the conditions of use that online service providers (OSP) offers to various constituent communities.
Detailed test results will be compiled into a confidential test results document.
Then, reports summarizing concisely the findings from the application of this methodology to each online service provider will be prepared without disclosing the specific details of the assessment methodology. These reports will assist OPG and other organizations in making recommendations to the online service providers about improvements to the online experience of the constituent communities. These recommendations may be used to engage online service providers in an effort to improve the services they provide.
Once enough online service providers have been analyzed using a similar methodology, summary reports will detail comparisons of the conditions of use for each constituent community on various online service providers. If certain online service providers are intransigent about service that is not fair, accurate, and inclusive to a constituent community, the report may be provided to that community, select media outlets, and the general public as appropriate.
Detailed test results and the specific details of the assessment methodology may be audited, providing that project management and those requesting an audit can agree upon and fund an audit by an independent agency willing to guarantee confidentiality of the detailed test results and the specific details of the assessment methodology.
Details of the assessment methodology will be kept confidential because if OSPs become aware of the details of the assessment methodology, they may be able to make cosmetic adjustments to their service that do not address the underlying issues the service may have with respect to the constituent community. The appendixes containing the actual test items are only provided to staff and volunteers actually engaged in testing.
Thanks to the interns and volunteers who have contributed countless hours of labor to produce these reports, especially to Alberto Curotto, Roman Frillarte, Andy Grigsby, David Gudelunas of the Annenberg School for Communication - University of Pennsylvania, Kate Kennedy of Ohio State University, Wesley Leverenz of University of Wisconsin at Madison, Alex Marthews of the University of California at Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Margaret Meyers of Yale University, Lee Wasserman, Genevieve York-Erwin of Yale University, and many others who wish to or must remain anonymous. David Gudelunas deserves special mention for assistance with statistical analysis and drafting of this report.
GLAAD Educational Services Manager Jane Ralph assisted by recruiting interns for the project and Dilia Loe, GLAAD Deputy Director for Programs and Operations, offered sage advice and supervisorial encouragement. Thanks to GLAAD Executive Director Joan Garry and other LGBT community representatives who participated in various meetings and discussions with AOL management on these topics.
Thanks to GLAAD Center for the Study of Media & Society Director Jason Heffner, GLAAD Research Advisory Board member John Bowes of the University of Washington at Seattle, and to Christopher Hunter of the Annenberg School of Communication - University of Pennsylvania for improvements in the project methodology. Special thanks to statistician Mark Thompson for his review of the project methodology and training on statistical methods.
To provide comments on this document or to obtain copies of this and related online service provider assessment documents, please contact email@example.com.
Revision 1.100 of January 31, 2001
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