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Use of "standard" #792

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kcoyle opened this Issue Mar 6, 2019 · 12 comments

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@kcoyle
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commented Mar 6, 2019

From Paul Walk:

This describes a standard thus: "A Standard can be either a Base Specification (a Standard not profiling any other Standard) or a Profile (a Standard which does profile others)."

This is an interesting use of the word 'standard'. I appreciate that we have these imprecise terms, and that we have to arrange them somehow, and that this definition is not necessarily any worse than any other but, nonetheless, I find it a bit surprising. I have tended to view metadata application profiles as being an arrangement of properties and constraints, drawing from one or more namespaces (frequently from more than one namespace in the domains with which I am most familiar), in order to either facilitate some task, or to describe some domain. In this formulation, 'standard' is closer to 'namespace', and so I would expect a many-to-many relationship between standard and profile.

https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-dxwg-comments/2019Jan/0006.html

@kcoyle

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commented Mar 6, 2019

This was also noted in the ShEx community comments:

"The relation of standard to profile also seems unclear in practice. Some people consider a specification to be a "standard" when published by a "standards" body such as ISO but not if published by, say, W3C or DCMI. And yet, because the domain of prof:hasProfile is dct:Standard, one could infer that any profile profiled by another profile is, ipso facto, also a standard. Should a vocabulary I just invented for this profile be considered a "standard" with respect to the profile? Given the diversity of opinions and perspectives on the distinction in natural language, we would expect diverse interpretations of its use in the Profile Ontology as well."

https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-dxwg-comments/2019Feb/0001.html

@rob-metalinkage

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commented Mar 12, 2019

"one could infer that any profile profiled by another profile is, ipso facto, also a standard. " is indeed rational. what else could it be?

The description has been updated anyway to clarify, the comment supports the model proposed, so this issue could be closed. - its all essentially a duplicate of #802, #797 , #799 - these issues are all useful to make sure specific reviewers get targetted feedback but are all addressable by the same process of refining the descriptive text,

@kcoyle

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commented Mar 13, 2019

@rob-metalinkage I don't think this is the same as those comments. They are not totally unrelated, but each has its own meaning.

What you have here is someone who disagrees that all profiles are standards. Do you have a way to resolve this? Obviously this person DOES think it could be something else. You could ask for clarification as to why they do not think that subclassing profile to standard is a good idea.

@agreiner

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commented Mar 13, 2019

This question gets at the formality of profiles. I think they are less formal than a standard, without the same implication of vetting by some official group of people.

@smrgeoinfo

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commented Mar 13, 2019

This underscores the argument for talking about 'specifications' instead of 'standards'. The level of authority of a specification is really up to the user, what is important is that there is some public documentation that makes it clear what 'conforming to x' (whether x is a spec or standard) means.

the sentence in the first comment in this thread would then read
"A specification can be either a Base Specification (not profiling any other specification) or a Profile (a specification that includes the provisions from some other specification (a base specification), with restrictions or additional logically consistent constraints)."

@rob-metalinkage

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commented Mar 13, 2019

remember we are subclassing dct:Standard and hence using its loose defitinition of standard - there is nothing about formal recognition of standards bodies etc.

One comment has suggested renaming Profile to be Specification. I do not favour this because it doesnt add anything to the definition of dct:Standard except a better name, and the Profiles Vocabulary is specifically scoped to address needs of profiling. There is nothing to stop use of resourceDescriptors and roles against a dct:Standard (or another equivalent Specification class).

I dont think we have collected all possible Use Cases for a general Specification ontology, but we know the Profile issues. We could rename Profile to Specification and the ontology to "Specifications and Profiles Vocabulary".

Pros: makes it explicit that the role-qualified resources can be used for any specification and addresses absence of a more general vocabulary
Cons: potential arguments about claiming greater scope and lack of consultation with all possible specification writing communities

my view: better something agreed and useful than a future perfect all-encompassing scope

possible option:

add a new class Specification in the hierarchy (between dct:Standard and pro:Profile and axiomitise that a Profile has at least one isProfileOf relationship.

if the then rename to Specification and Profiles Vocabulary it then reflects that it at least refers to Specification from the perspective of profiling.

note that this makes no statement about formality of profiles or standards - it merely allows description of them. Other vocabularies could be used for that information if required.

My proposed response to Paul Walk would be "the term Standard derives from the usage in Dublin Core which does not proscribe any specific status, other than some community using it as a reference point." The association of namespaces with specifications (or "standards") is an artefact of encoding - and the Profiles vocabulary makes no assumptions about encoding or whether such a namespace is defined or unique. So the vocabulary supports the the "metadata profiles" use case you refer to, but applies to more general cases of specification expression."

@smrgeoinfo

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commented Mar 14, 2019

@rob-metalinkage, I like the language to get around baggage for 'standard' ("the term Standard derives from the usage in Dublin Core which does not proscribe any specific status, other than some community using it as a reference point.") +1.
I'd need to review the text, but perhaps instead of trying to add 'Specification' as a class, we could just define the term and use it in the document text when talking about a dct:Standard or a prof:Profile, since both are specifications?

@kcoyle

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commented Mar 14, 2019

Is there a need for a class at all? All properties default to being in the class rdf:Resource. What does adding dct:Standard gain us here?

@makxdekkers

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commented Mar 15, 2019

The reference to dct:Standard specifies the kind of things a profile applies to. It does not apply to things that are not specifications of entities, attributes and relationships, at least not as it is currently defined.

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commented Mar 15, 2019

doesn't seem that the dct:Standard definition ("A basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.") actually restricts the standardization target for a dct:Standard in any way.

@makxdekkers

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commented Mar 15, 2019

@smrgeoinfo It does restrict the target to something that is a reference point for comparison. @kcoyle's suggestion to generalise it to rdfs:Resource would leave it completely open, and a profile could then apply to people, cars, ideas, the weather -- anything.

@kcoyle

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commented Mar 15, 2019

@smrgeoinfo
+1 to @makxdekkers
Remember that Paul Walk was objecting (mildly) to the definition of Standard in the text, not the use of dct:Standard.

But as others have said here, there will be folks who do not consider their all of their profiles to be "A basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated." In particular, I think that the "against which other things can be evaluated" is something that some folks will not associate with their profiles. Anyone can add an "rdf:type dct:Standard" to their RDF if they wish; it would be best not to bake this into PROF as it restricts the meaning of profile to that definition.

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