Welcome to the Web Schemas discussion list

This is a note to introduce the public-vocabs@w3.org mailing list as
the home for a new Task Force within the Semantic Web Interest Group (SWIG).

>From the charter page at http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/interest/webschema.html -

"The Web Schemas Task Force is devoted to practical issues around data
schemas for large-scale use in the public Web."

(see below for full text of the charter)

R.V.Guha (of Google and the Schema.org initiative) will chair the
group. I will help. We will collaborate primarily by email and other
electronic fora, including Wiki, issue trackers, test case
repositories and suchlike.

The charter goes into more detail about the purpose and approach of
the group; I'll summarize here informally.

This is one outcome of discussions that began around the launch of the
Schema.org initiative earlier this year.  When <http://schema.org/>
was launched as a partnership between Yahoo, Bing and Google, it
created several strands of discussion[1]. One, around choice of
specific syntax for Web data (Microdata, RDFa, Microformats etc.) is
being addressed by another Task Force on HTML Data, chaired by Jeni
Tennison. See [2] for more details on the group and its mailing list,

The other group, on "Web Schemas", addresses the other side of the
conversation: the actual descriptive vocabulary used in this data.
There is a blog post from Ivan Herman at
introducing both groups and their relationship to each other. This is
a new kind of public group for W3C; historically we have spent more
time talking about Semantic Web technology than on its use, or on the
specifics of vocabulary design. As the technology stack has matured,
it is time to provide a venue for discussion of schema and vocabulary

It is important to set expectations here: what we have created is a
discussion forum within which interested parties working with various
Web data vocabularies can communicate. The initial driver for this was
Schema.org, and I expect it to take a central place in many of the
discussions here. However, other topics and vocabularies
are in scope, since the central problem that brings us together is
finding a practical balance between decentralized and centralized

The initial plan is to ground these discussions very practically in
the search-engine-oriented work of the Schema.org collaboration. The
existing discussions from the Schema.org Google Group mailing list[3]
will be migrated to this group, although product-specific discussions
should be directed to product-specific fora elsewhere.

This forum will become the primary public feedback channel for the
Schema.org project. That does not mean that W3C is in any sense
'standardizing' the schema, but it does reflect an effort to build
bridges between different approaches to 'Web Schemas', so that the
cost and confusion of wide-scale adoption can be reduced.

There are many other Web Schemas out there; some expressed in RDF,
some using other approaches. I hope this group provides a shared forum
for collaboration, integration and feedback. To this end, I've
requested a W3C Issue Tracker instance for the group, and will set up
"Xyz Feedback" areas within it for any vocabulary initiative that
would like one. We will go first with Schema.org and FOAF; if others
are interested, do get in touch.

I have started collecting information in our Wiki, at
and will be updating that during the next week as we get up and running...



[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/wiki/SemTech2011BOF
[2] http://www.w3.org/wiki/Html-data-tf
[3] http://groups.google.com/group/schemaorg-discussion

############# text copy of
http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/interest/webschema.html below for info:

This is a charter for a taskforce of the W3C Semantic Web Interest
Group. The Web Schemas Task Force is devoted to practical issues
around data schemas for large-scale use in the public Web.

The group will use W3C's Wiki and the public-vocabs list. For IRC
discussions, #schema is available on irc.freenode.net, alongside the
existing #swig (logs) and >#microformats (logs) channels. There is
also the microformats wiki nearby.

TF chair: R.V.Guha (Google).

Web Schemas TF

The Web is a decentralized, pluralistic system, and the world is too
complex for any single, non-extensible or monolithic schema to fully
describe. Web publishers, with limited resources and attention, have
recently started publishing simple factual data embedded in mainstream
Web content - e.g. using Microformats conventions, RDFa, HTML5 and
Microdata. For such purposes, simplicity, usability and ease of
adoption are critically important. Recent initiatives such as
Facebook's Open Graph Protocol and Google/Bing/Yahoo!'s Schema.org
announcement have emphasised simple, tightly constrained vocabularies
that emphasise ease of adoption over expressiveness. Meanwhile, many
Web-based APIs expose similar data using schemas expressed in JSON or
XML (e.g. based on Atom/RSS), with initiatives such as Portable
Contacts and Activity Streams often maintaining both XML and JSON

The taskforce's focus is on collaboration around vocabularies (e.g.
Dublin Core and others), mappings (e.g. see schema.rdfs.org, DBpedia,
OGP), and around syntax-neutral vocabulary design and tooling, rather
than questions of markup. In practice, it is not always easy to make
such sharp distinctions, and we anticipate the group may be a useful
source of use cases and test cases for nearby activities, such as the
W3C's investigations around RDFa and Microdata, or the Microformats-2

This taskforce was created from an appreciation of both decentralized,
pluralistic vocabulary development and the benefits of a more tightly
coordinated effort. The forum is offered as a place where any project
or group can offer some accountability and dialog around their work
and where both industry consortium and loosely-coordinated initiatives
of individuals can take the opportunity to articulate how their
efforts relate to each other.

Participants are encouraged to use the group to take practical steps
towards interoperability amongst diverse schemas, e.g. through
development of mappings, extensions and supporting tools. Those
participants who maintain vocabularies in any format designed for
wide-scale public Web use are welcome to also to participate in the
group as a 'feedback channel', including practicalities around syntax,
encoding and extensibility (which will be relayed to other W3C groups
as appropriate).

In-scope topics include:

use of structured data in mainstream and specialist search engines
(both HTML-embedded and in custom feeds)
use of structured data in social networking, microblogging and
link-sharing networks
convergence of schemas around common use-cases
documentation of mappings and equivalences between schemas
syntax issues and practicalities, particularly those for use within HTML
announcements of new versions, proposals, datasets and changes
'how do I express this'?' use case discussion
discussion on common idioms that should be understood by mainstream
consumers, to avoid markup duplication
tools and techniques (software libraries, test cases, validators etc.)
to ease difficulty of adoption or costs of diversity
Out of scope topics include:

Advocacy of data models or syntaxes without attention to real-world use cases
The use of inference
debate over foundational ontologies
This is a public group, and does not itself produce specifications.
Instead, it provides a forum in which creators and maintainers of data
schemas (aka vocabularies, ontologies) can engage with each other and
with those who publish and consume such data.

$Id: webschema.html,v 1.21 2011/09/17 17:05:58 danbri Exp $
Dan Brickley, W3C SWIG chair.

Received on Friday, 30 September 2011 17:42:25 UTC