[tdwg-content] Recap - Darwin Core Standard - proposed changes in governance

John Wieczorek tuco at berkeley.edu
Tue Mar 31 17:06:30 CEST 2015

Dear all,

There has been consistent agreement (though I would hesitate to say
consensus prematurely) about some aspects of the proposal to redefine which
documents comprise the Darwin Core standard. The discussion has been
fruitful and appreciated. Yet, I believe we are at an impasse in terms of
implementing the proposed changes because a) I have not followed the
correct process so far, and b) the interim TDWG Standards Process that are
supposed to govern the process is not amenable to the changes that were
proposed. I'll try to explain briefly.

The proposal was to redefine which documents comprise the Darwin Core
standard, not to make additions or changes to the Darwin Core terms, The
latter would fall under Darwin Core's "internal" namespace policy[1].
Instead, this proposal is a change to the structure as well as documentary
content of the standard as a whole, which falls under the interim TDWG
Standards Documentation Specification[2], as Steve Baskauf pointed out[3].
To fulfill those requirements is an onerous task (my heartfelt pity for
those who have had to go through it) - too onerous, I believe, for what we
are trying to accomplish here, which is to change an existing standard
(indeed, make it easier to manage) rather than create a new one. We are not
allowed to do that according to the interim TDWG Standards Documentation
Specification, which states, "Once a standard has been ratified it cannot
be changed in any substantive way; it must be superseded by a standard with
a different name." All question of versioning aside, we would have to
follow the process of creating a new standard.

Unless there is a way to get an Executive override of the interim process
standard in order to allow us to make the proposed changes and liberate
Darwin Core to evolve more effectively, I think we have to wait for the
overhaul of the Standards Documentation Specification. The Task Group
Charter to do that work has been submitted, but the results are not slated
to be fully realized until 1 Jan 2016.

This is unfortunate, as it leaves a huge body of work to refactor Darwin
Core and its management [4] unrealizable in an official capacity. Ideas



[1] Darwin Core Namespace Policy.
[2] TDWG Standards Documentation Specification.
[3] tdwg-content email from Steve Baskauf.
[4] Github branch of Darwin Core repository for streamlined management.
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