RE: The Agent proposal in is controversial

One option would be for us to use foaf:Agent. Presumably search engines would ignore it, but that’s their prerogative.

Another option would be to preserve, with a comment that it wasn’t accepted by the broader community, but remains useful in our limited domain. (Terms that have been adopted should be deprecated.)


From: Richard Wallis []
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2015 8:18 AM
Subject: The Agent proposal in is controversial

You may have noticed if you followed the recent announcement of Schema.or v2.1<>, 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 world.

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 14:05:04 UTC