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Usage Board process

Tom Baker, Paul Walk Version: 2018-09-10

About this document

This document supersedes DCMI Usage Board Administrative Processes, a document first posted in 2001 and last revised in 2006, which covered the first period of Usage Board activity, from its first face-to-face meeting in 2001 through a final face-to-face meeting in 2009 and teleconference in 2012. After a hiatus of six years, the Usage Board was revived in 2018 to review proposals for change submitted by the ISO committee responsible for the draft 15836 Part 2, "DCMI Properties and Classes", and to re-assess DCMI Metadata Terms in light of accumulated practice and implementation experience. This new Usage Board process must take into account the decline of travel budgets but also the steady improvement of facilities for holding teleconferences, collaboratively editing minutes and other documents, and tracking issues. The document is starting small, with the bare minimum of process needed to begin work, and may grow incrementally in response to requirements arising.


The Usage Board is responsible for ensuring an orderly evolution of metadata vocabularies maintained by DCMI.



The semantic artefacts in scope of the Usage Board are RDF vocabularies, so all decisions taken to add or change terms must be consistent with RDF principles. In addition, all decisions must conform to the DCMI Namespace Policy, which articulates principles regarding semantic stability and backwards compatibility. The Namespace Policy is a living document and may be changed or clarified on the initiative of the Usage Board and with the approval of the Executive on behalf of the Governing Board. On no account can a decision be approved that clearly violates the stated policy. Were such a possibility to arise, the Namespace Policy would need first to be revised to account for the decision. As of 2019, the applicability of the DCMI Namespace Policy to community specifications such as LRMI and BIBO is unclear.

Mode of operation

The Usage Board consists of a pool of invited experts which collectively takes responsibility for the stewardship of vocabularies maintained by DCMI. The Usage Board will include one or more representatives for each of the vocabularies maintained by DCMI. Their role will be primarily to raise, with the Usage Board, any maintenance requests coming from the wider community which, in their judgement, need the attention of DCMI. Responsibility for addressing such maintenance requests lies with the Usage Board as a group, together with the DCMI Executive.

From time to time, the Usage Board may form a time and scope-limited task group to deal with issues arising with particular vocabularies.


Usage Board members and chair are appointed by the DCMI Executive on behalf of the DCMI Governing Board and on the advice of the Usage Board chair(s) and may step down at their own discretion at any time.


The Usage Board strives for consensus, justifying its decisions and interpretations in terms of principle and of empirical practice. To be approved, a proposal needs more than 50% of cast votes in favor and less than 25% of cast votes against. (A vote to abstain counts as a cast vote. Missing votes will not count either way. Reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that all members have the opportunity to vote.) All decisions will be documented with brief justifications and forwarded to the DCMI Executive for endorsement on behalf of the Governing Board. In all foreseeable cases, review by the DCMI Executive would be limited to ensuring that decisions are consistent with the Namespace Policy.

Usage Board mailing lists and teleconferences

  • Teleconferences will be held on DCMI's Zoom platform.
  • Announcements and discussion of general issues will take place on two JISCMAIL lists: the world-readable dc-usage JISCMAIL list and, for discussions of a more sensitive nature, on the protected list dc-usage-bc.
  • Meeting records, issues, and draft decision documents will be documented on the world-readable Usage Board Github repository, to which all members of the Usage Board will belong.
  • Meeting agendas and minutes will be logged on a list of agendas and minutes. * Discussion of specific proposals, and formal votes for approval, will take place on the Github issue tracker, which may be organized and prioritized using project boards. UB members may choose to participate in such issue discussions by email.
  • Some issues may be raised, discussed, and closed entirely on the issue tracker, while others may need to be discussed on teleconferences. Any UB member may request that an issue be put onto the agenda of a call.
  • Teleconferences will be scheduled as needed. Due to the inevitability of schedule conflicts, attendance cannot be required, but every effort will be made to ensure that all views on a proposal have been heard prior to making a decision.
  • Teleconference minutes will be taken using collaborative editing environments such as HackMD, then copied to the Github repo for permanent documentation.
  • Once finalized, decision documents will be copied to the main website, referenced in a list of Usage Board decisions, then reflected in a new version of DCMI Metadata Terms.