May 23, 2022

Research Paper: “Quantifying Orphaned Annotations in”

The following paper was recently shared on arXiv. It’s an extended version of a paper presented at the 19th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries.


Quantifying Orphaned Annotations in


Mohamed Aturban
Old Dominion University

Michael L. Nelson
Old Dominion University

Michele C. Weigle
Old Dominion University




Web annotation has been receiving increased attention recently with the organization of the Open Annotation Collaboration and new tools for open annotation, such as We investigate the prevalence of orphaned annotations , where neither the live Web page nor an archived copy of the Web page contains the text that had previously been annotated in the annotation system (containing 20,953 highlighted text annotations). We found that about 22% of highlighted text annotations can no longer be attached to their live Web pages.

Unfortunately, only about 12% of these annotations can be reattached using the holdings of current public web archives, leaving the remaining 88% of these annotations orphaned. For those annotations that are still attached, 53% are in danger of becoming orphans if the live Web page changes. This points to the need for archiving the target of an annotation at the time the annotation is created.

Direct to Full Text Article (17 pages; PDF)

See Also: 40 Member Web Annotation Coalition Organized by Launches (December 1, 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.