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Re: Using third-party vocabularies

From: Graham Klyne <GK@NineByNine.org>
Date: Thu, 05 Dec 2002 12:14:40 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Cc: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>, Jeremy Carroll <jjc@hplb.hpl.hp.com>, w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org

At 10:41 AM 12/5/02 +0000, Brian McBride wrote:

>At 16:56 04/12/2002 +0000, Graham Klyne wrote:
>>Ah, I see your point.  This suggests a slight rearrangement;  the general 
>>case, leading in to the 'significant' concerns:
>>When making statements that use terms defined by a third party, one 
>>should take care that the third party definition is consistent with ones 
>>intended meaning, or the statements may have unintended consequences.
>>In particular, when publishing a statement with potentially significant 
>>legal or social consequences, use only vocabulary whose meaning is 
>>well-defined, stable and known to correspond to the intended 
>>commitment.  For important documents, such as contracts, this may mean 
>>that use of third-party vocabulary is restricted to terms defined by 
>>legislature, recognized standards bodies or other reputable 
>>organizations, or that otherwise have socially well-established meanings.
>I suggest dropping the last sentence, "For important documents ...".
>It doesn't add any normative value.  The point has already been made in 
>the previous sentence, but it does potentially open a whole new can of 
>worms.  Perhaps someone will ask us for a normative example of using RDF 
>as a contract.  Lets not go there in this document.

What the previous text does not say, and concerning which there was a 
comment on the Concepts document, is that even though third-party 
vocabularies are generally unconstrained by opthers who may use them, there 
may yet be some that are sufficiently well-trusted for serious use.  If you 
don't want to go into legal territory, the final sentence might be pared 
down to, say:

For important documents this may mean that use of third-party vocabulary is 
restricted to terms defined by reputable organizations (e.g. recognized 
standards bodies), or that otherwise have socially well-established meanings.


Graham Klyne
Received on Thursday, 5 December 2002 07:10:43 UTC

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