[tdwg-content] Darwin Core Standard - proposed change in governance

John Wieczorek tuco at berkeley.edu
Tue Jan 20 16:18:35 CET 2015

Dear all,

Peter Desmet, Markus Döring, and I have been working on the transition of
Darwin Core maintenance from the Google Code Site to Github. We've taken
the opportunity to streamline the process of making updates to the standard
when they are ratified, such as scripts to produce the human-readable
content and auxiliary files from the RDF document of current terms. As a
result of this work, we see further opportunities to simplify the
maintenance of the standard. They center on the following proposal.

We would like to propose that the *RDF document of current terms* be made
to represent the *normative standard for Darwin Core* rather than *Complete
History normative document* we use now. We would also like to make that new
normative document the only document in the standard.

Under this proposal:

1) the normative standard for Darwin Core would consist of a single
document at http://rs.tdwg.org/terms/dwc_normative.rdf (not currently

2) information currently held in
http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/rdf/dwctermshistory.rdf (the current normative
document) and the corresponding Complete History web page (
http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/history/index.htm) would be retained only in a
history document http://rs.tdwg.org/terms/history.html (not currently

3) all documents other than the proposed normative document would not be
part of the standard.

The proposed changes require community consensus under the existing rules
of governance of the Darwin Core. This means that the proposal must be
under public review for at least 30 days after an apparent consensus on the
proposal and any amendments to it is reached, where consensus consists of
no publicly-shared opposition.

The implications of this proposal are many. One of the most important is
that the rules governing changes to the standard (
http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/namespace/index.htm) would no longer be a part
of the standard. Instead, we would promote the adoption of these rules
across TDWG standards rather than just within Darwin Core. It may be that
TDWG is not ready to accommodate this at the moment. If so, the Namespace
Policy could remain within the Darwin Core standard until the broader
governance process for TDWG can cover it, at which point we would propose
to remove the Namespace Policy from the Darwin Core.

Other comments about the proposed changes:

Having one RDF document for the terms in the dwc namespace will avoid
confusion. Only those with status 'recommended' would be in the normative

Having the term history (all versions, including deprecated, superseded,
and recommended ones) in a web page only is what Dublin Core does. It means
no one would be able to reason over old versions of the Darwin Core. Would
anyone do that?

Having no document other than the normative one as part of the standard
would free the whole rest of the body of Darwin Core documentation from the
requirements of public review and Executive Committee approval. This would
make that documentation much more open to broader contributions and easier
to adapt to evolving demands.

We do not propose to lose any of the documentation we have.

Please share your comments!


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