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

Chuck Miller Chuck.Miller at mobot.org
Tue Jan 20 19:24:42 CET 2015

I agree that this would greatly simplify John's work managing the Darwin Core term change process.  And I agree with Joel about deprecation.  Reversing course on something already in common use can cause headaches.

But, I wonder if we should also organize TDWG Standards into two kinds: "Term-Based" and (for lack of a better word) "Non-Term-Based."   The proposed "Namespace Policy" could be generalized to apply to all "Term-Based" standards, like Audubon Core.  But, for standards like SDD or ABCD that combine terms and structure, I think an additional process is needed.  At the moment, the TDWG standards process only enables complete replacement of standards, rather than changes.


-----Original Message-----
From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of joel sachs
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 11:26 AM
To: John Wieczorek
Cc: TDWG Content Mailing List
Subject: Re: [tdwg-content] Darwin Core Standard - proposed change in governance

John et al.,

I like the idea of the standard residing in a single document. It is important, though, that deprecated terms continue to resolve, ideally returning the definition, a "Deprecated" flag, and a helpful message like "Use dwc:xyz instead" or "See http://tdwg.org/abc for discussion".

In general, a distinction is drawn between deprecated and obsolete [1], with deprecated meaning "using this term is discouraged, but it won't cause an error". Specific to Darwin Core, I'm thinking about all the spreasheet data with an "IndividualID" column. Imagine a tool that provides a terminology lookup service when column headers are moused over. 
I think a good thing to display for "IndividualID" would be something
An identifier for an individual or named group of individual organisms represented in the Occurrence. Meant to accommodate resampling of the same individual or group for monitoring purposes. May be a global unique identifier or an identifier specific to a data set.


Use OrganismID instead.

Of course, having deprecated terms in a file separate from the recommended terms *can* accommodate resolution of the deprecated terms, via redirect rules, etc. I'm just making the point that "what do you see when you dereference a term?" is as important a question as "what documents constitute the standard?"


1. See, e.g.,
As noted elsewhere -
- this distinction is spelled out in the Conformance section of HTML 4 -
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/conform.html#h-4.1 - but is dropped from HTML
5 in favour of other terminology.

On Tue, 20 Jan 2015, John Wieczorek wrote:

> 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 
> active).
> 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 active).
> 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 document.
> 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!
> Cheers,
> John

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