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

joel sachs jsachs at csee.umbc.edu
Tue Mar 31 21:58:43 CEST 2015

Hi John,

The document entitled "TDWG Standards Documentation Specification" was 
never ratified. I can see why it might have been treated as an "interim 
spec" in the year or two immediately following its drafting; it makes 
sense to adhere to a likely-to-be-ratified standard. But 147 is now a 
highly-unlikely-to-be-ratified draft standard. Is an executive override 
required for us to disobey it?

Regardless ...

The report of the VoMaG group recommended that "The TDWG Executive should 
kill the stalled TDWG Standards Documentation Specification as a proposal on the standards track" [1]. I encourage the Executive to act on this recommendation, as that 
would clear up confusion as to the applicability of http://www.tdwg.org/standards/147/


1. http://www.gbif.org/resource/80862 - recommendation 2.12

On Tue, 31 Mar 2015, John Wieczorek wrote:

> 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
> welcome.
> Cheers,
> John
> [1] Darwin Core Namespace Policy.
> http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/terms/namespace/index.htm
> [2] TDWG Standards Documentation Specification.
> http://www.tdwg.org/standards/147/
> [3] tdwg-content email from Steve Baskauf.
> http://lists.tdwg.org/pipermail/tdwg-content/2015-January/003429.html
> [4] Github branch of Darwin Core repository for streamlined management.

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