The Agent proposal in is controversial

You may have noticed if you followed the recent announcement of Schema.or
which includes, that one of our proposals did not make it
in.  That proposal being the Agent type that we proposed as a super-type
for Person and Organization.

Agent has been a theme of discussion in the community well before we
approached the issue.  You can follow the recent debate in the related
schemaorg git issue comment trail:

In the bibliographic world Agent is a well understood, some would say
obvious, approach.  When applied to the wider domains that
embraces however, it raises many concerns and issues. Especially because,
as proposed, it would introduce a new direct sub-type of Thing with
ramifications that could cascade across many areas of the  vocabulary.

In my personal opinion the gap between the two apposing views on this is
significant and the best way forward would be to consider possible
pragmatic approaches to how we represent our data in without
loosing the ability to describe our resources effectively to the wider

In simple terms, if we identify an author, creator, publisher, or even
copyright holder as a Person or an Organization there is not a problem.
The difficulty occurs when we know from the relationships in the data that
they are either a Person or an Organization but cannot identify which.

One suggested way forward for such a circumstance would be to define them
as a schema:Thing.  To me this feels a little too vague.  A follow-on
option was to suggest a 'personOrOrganization' boolean property to indicate
this circumstance.  This is a little more appealing, but I think it still
needs some work.

What are others thoughts on this?

Do we believe that the proposed Agent type is the *only* way forward?  Are
there potential pragmatic options like the one I describe above that we
could shape, that would be acceptable? Is this requirement to specifically
describe agents as too detailed and something we can pass over, and move on
to other things?


Richard Wallis
Founder, Data Liberate
Twitter: @rjw

Received on Monday, 10 August 2015 12:18:54 UTC