A quick tour of publishing metadata
All items in ArcGIS have a description. The description identifies the resource and lets you find it with an ArcGIS Desktop search. However, items and their descriptions don't exclusively reside in ArcGIS Desktop. An item and its description may be published to various sites that help people find and use GIS resources. A few of these options are described below.
ArcGIS Online—Lets people share, find, and use GIS resources. As an ArcGIS user with Internet access, you can find content published by ESRI, ArcGIS users, and other authoritative data providers as well as upload and share content of your own. If you publish resources, the brief description you provide using the Description tab or the item's Properties dialog box is published with the item and will help others find it with a search.
Geodata.gov—A geoportal that provides access to United States federal, state, and local maps, data, and services as part of an e-government initiative. You can search and discover a wide variety of GIS resources, save your searches, and save maps that you build with any live services that you find.
A geoportal—The ArcGIS Server Geoportal extension allows you to provide a metadata catalog that lets people search and discover the GIS resources you have to share. A geoportal lets you index and search an item's complete metadata as opposed to its brief item description. You might be able to contribute information about your resources to a community geoportal that is managed by another organization.
An ArcIMS Metadata Service—An ArcIMS Metadata Service is a searchable online metadata catalog that lets you share information about your GIS resources. You can host your own Metadata Service, or you might be able to publish metadata describing your items to a Metadata Service that serves your community.