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Chinese Text Project

Metadata System


The purpose of this feature is to allow users to add structured data to arbitrary sections of text in the CTP textual database. This data can be for the user's own use or shared with all users of the CTP.

Each piece of metadata consists of:

  1. A property which belongs to the section of text concerned; this defines what kind of thing the metadata is;
  2. Further user-supplied data related to this property and section of text (optional).
  3. A region of text to which the property and additional data apply.
The same property can apply to many different sections of text, each instance having its own distinct user-supplied data.

By defining and using properties related to your interests, you can quickly note down and classify parts of texts you are interested in, allowing you to work more efficiently by keeping track of the precise sections of texts that are important to your work. You can also take part in the collaborative project of creating useful public metadata for the CTP texts.


When you create a new property, you must choose a privacy setting for the property:

The privacy setting for a property can be changed using the Settings page. However, once a property has been accepted as a public property, it is not possible to change its privacy setting, as other users may already have contributed additions to it.


Example of a public property

One example of a property is "Source of a chengyu (i.e. four-character idiom)". This property applies to a section of text which is the source (or one possible source) of the idiom. Associated with each instance of the property is the name of the idiom which the section of text is a source of.

An example of an instance of this property might be its assignment to the following line of the Analects:
This is the source of the idiom "安老懷少", so the value of this instance of the property is "安老懷少". This kind of property is a good example of public metadata, because this property would be of interest to a large number of people, and many people would be able to propose new additions to it.

All public properties are accessible using the Advanced Search feature.

Example of a personal property

Another example is "Sections of text we'll discuss in class next week". You might want to have associated with each instance of the property some questions students should think about when they read the passage, or hints as to their relevance to the topic in question.

This kind of property is a good example of personal metadata. It probably doesn't mean too much to people outside your student body, but it's not crucial that nobody else is able to see it. What's important is that not only you but also your students can locate the sections of text - you just need to send them a URL.

Example of a secret property

A third example is "Sections of text I'm going to quote in my next paper". This applies to whichever passages of text you want it to. You might want to have associated with each instance of the property some notes about its relevance to your research.

This kind of property is a good example of secret metadata. You probably don't want anyone else to read your notes, and the passages you've selected may not mean much to other people until they've read your paper anyway. Later on once your research is published, you might want to convert this property into public metadata so that readers of your paper can quickly find the passages you refer to in it - as well as to alert CTP users who are interested in these passages of text to the fact that you talk about them in your paper, so they know they should go looking for it to find out more.

Public properties

Public properties are properties which are visible to everyone on the CTP site - whenever anyone comes across a passage with public properties, the passage displays the Metadata icon, and clicking on this displays the property information, with sections of text containing public properties highlighted. Thus only properties likely to be useful to a fairly wide range of people can be made into public properties. There are a few restrictions in place to ensure that this takes place:

  1. Anyone can propose a new public property. The user making the addition will be able to use the property immediately, but it will only become visible to other users once the addition has been approved by an administrator. If the property doesn't meet the criteria for a public property, it will continue to exist as a personal property.
  2. Anyone can assign a public property to a new passage. The user making the addition will be able to see the addition immediately, but it will only become visible to other users once the addition has been approved by the person responsible for the property. If the addition is not approved, it will continue to be visible to the user who proposed it.
  3. Once a public property has been created, its name can only be changed by an administrator.
  4. The person who first creates a public property has the right to approve and reject proposed additions to it. With this right comes the responsibility to process any such requests from other users. If such requests are not processed within a reasonable amount of time, responsibility for the property will default to an administrator, and can be reassigned to another user. If you don't want to perform this task, you are still welcome to create public properties and ignore the requests - there is no penalty for doing so other than the properties defaulting to the administrator account.

The Property Tree

Properties in the CTP are arranged hierarchically in a tree-like structure. Every property (except the 'root' property, "All properties") is subordinate to another property, and is listed under that property in the property tree. Subordinate properties should be subdivisions of the properties which they fall under - in other words, the things they should apply to are things to which the higher-level property also applies, but they have greater specificity than the higher level properties they fall under. For example, "Source of a chengyu" might fall under "Linguistic properties".

When you search the database for any property, the search automatically includes any other properties which are subordinate to that property.

Creating metadata

  1. To begin creating metadata, first make sure that you have created a CTP account and are logged in to it.
  2. Next, find a passage of text which interests you, and click on the orange icon (Metadata or Metadata) to the left of the paragraph.
  3. The paragraph will open in a new page, with any existing public metadata (and any metadata you have already added) highlighted and described below.
  4. Click on the link "Add metadata" below the paragraph. The page will then show the list of available properties - all public properties, together with any properties you have already defined.
  5. To select an existing property, click on the property name; further details about the property will be displayed, and you will have the option to add it to. To create a new property, click the orange icon corresponding to the heading under which you want to create the new property, then fill in the fields describing your new property. Each property must have a name in Chinese or English (or both).
  6. Finally, you may want to select an exact section of text to which the property will apply. The text you select will be highlighted in green; if no selection is made, the property will apply to the whole paragraph. Click the "Add" button, and the property will be applied to your selection.

Using metadata

All public metadata, and all metadata you have created, is accessible using the Advanced search page, as well as by clicking the Metadata icon beside relevant passages. Additionally, the Settings page (accessible by the "Settings" link at the bottom left of any page when logged in) shows a list of all your personal/secret properties, and any public properties you are responsible for. When other users suggest additions to these properties, this page will display a notice to this effect with a link allowing you to see the proposed additions, and approve or reject them.


Although the site aims to provide a reliable service, no guarantees express or implied are made as to the reliability of the metadata system, and all use of the system is at the user's own risk. In particular:

Please make sure you keep backups of any important data, and do not post any information you consider private or confidential.