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Re: Audience and suggestedMaxAge property

From: Phil Archer <phila@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:53:18 +0000
Message-ID: <50D0AD8E.3060805@w3.org>
To: public-vocabs@w3.org
No disagreement from me here on anything said. Age ranges (with upper 
and lower boundaries) are certainly useful for parents, educators and 
anyone making a selection for another person. And, as you have pointed 
out wisely to me for many years, Dan, you can't make people use a 
technology in the desired way.

Going back about a decade I was involved in the creation of a set of 
'neutral and objective' descriptors for online content for the purposes 
of online safety. My sensitivity to things like maxAge comes from that 
time. There's no such thing as a neutral set of descriptors (schema 
terms) because the choice to include or exclude a term is itself a 
subjective decision. If we'd included, say, a 'gay' descriptor, then 
that of itself would suggest that we thought that whether a particular 
bit of content/data reflected hetero- or homosexual values was an issue 
(we left that one out btw). That's why I pull back a little from 
something that might be used to say "you're too old for this" or "you're 
a boy and this is for girls" - but, OK, I'm pretending that any bit of 
metadata would ever actually be seen in that light and I should perhaps 
get over myself sometimes :-)



On 13/12/2012 20:00, Phil Barker wrote:
> On 13/12/12 19:29, Karen Coyle wrote:
>> Just to add a similar usage, materials aimed at K-12 students and
>> teachers often include a grade range ("grades 3-6") which is a
>> suggested minimum/maximum. It doesn't look to me that the educational
>> community has yet added its view to schema.org, but age and/or grade
>> and/or skills level will naturally be a part of that.
> Karen, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative has made a proposal for
> properties to be added for the description of educational materials.
> Mapping to age and "educational frameworks" are in there, where an
> educational framework can be something like a grade level in given
> educational system (e.g. US K-12)
> LRMI: http://www.lrmi.net/
> The proposed properties:
> http://www.w3.org/wiki/WebSchemas/LearningResources
> Phil
>> The GEM vocabulary [1] includes grade, level and age, and those can be
>> ranges. They aren't meant to exclude, they are information for
>> educators (or parents) who are seeking appropriate materials. I think
>> of it as a "clue" rather than a "rule."
>> kc
>> [1] http://dublincore.org/groups/education/GEM-Study.html
>> On 12/13/12 11:06 AM, Dan Brickley wrote:
>>> (top posting, but leaving some context below)
>>> Phil,
>>> We've discussed this (and your points below) amongst the schema.org
>>> partners. Here is a sketch of a compromise approach.
>>> 1. First, we acknowledge that schemas are useful when they reflect the
>>> complexity of real life rather than codifying over-stereotypical or
>>> cartoon views of the world, even though schemas by definition are
>>> always to some extent simplified descriptions. For example, schemas
>>> that describe people and model gender as a static binary property are
>>> over-simplifying the lives of many people, and can casually cause
>>> entirely avoidable offense. Although lots of Web sites do simplify in
>>> this way, it is probably not a good idea to have binary 'gender'
>>> properties in Web schemas, since sites that offer a more realistic
>>> nuanced view of the world shouldn't be forced to adopt the simplified
>>> view.
>>> 2. Generally sites have an incentive not to arbitrarily exclude
>>> potential audiences from their materials and offers; suggestedMaxAge
>>> is therefore probably of modest interest to most publishers.
>>> 3. There are some reasonable use cases for targeting content and
>>> offers by gender (e.g. health), and age (e.g. mortgage policies). Any
>>> reasonably expressive descriptive schema can be used to say
>>> ill-advised things. While there are unreasonable or foolish or
>>> tasteless or thoughtless potential uses of such vocabulary; it is not
>>> clear that restricting schema.org's vocabulary will help discourage
>>> sites from saying those things in natural language. It is hard to make
>>> general schema design policies in this area, and perhaps better to
>>> consider terms case by case. In this particular case, sites that
>>> needlessly exclude audiences may well be nudged more by common sense
>>> (why exclude potential customers?) than by the decisions of schema
>>> designers.
>>> 4. Schema.org provides a dictionary of terms; it leaves open the
>>> possibility of very different uses being made of those terms. You
>>> could use it to make a search system that excluded sites it deemed
>>> sexist or ageist or otherwise socially regressive. Or you could use it
>>> quite opposite ways. Neither usage scenario would be dictated by the
>>> definition of 'suggestedMaxAge'; the property would just make the
>>> statements from publishers easier to compute with.
>>> My sense is that there is enough reason to add such a property, but
>>> that it is worth documenting the fact that it is generally less useful
>>> than the suggested*Minimum*Age property. Speaking personally, although
>>> I do feel the Guardian-reading liberal urge to try to reform the world
>>> through schema design, I think that impulse should generally be
>>> restricted to avoiding patterns (eg. the gender example given earlier)
>>> whose every use is somehow problematic.
>>> Thanks for any further thoughts on this,
>>> cheers,
>>> Dan
>>> On 10 December 2012 18:10, Egor Antonov <elderos@yandex-team.ru> wrote:
>>>> Hi Phil,
>>>> thanks for the review.
>>>> Let me emphasize, that these properties are not restrictive (at the
>>>> last
>>>> schema.org talk we decided to rename them to suggestedMinAge etc to
>>>> make it
>>>> more clear).
>>>> It's just a hint for personalization issues, pointing at the
>>>> nucleous of
>>>> people, who maybe want to view/buy/use some content.
>>>> If somebody searches for films, he/she probably wants to see that films
>>>> which are intended for his/her age (and gender, too).
>>>> Also, there can be non-matching correlation between user and intended
>>>> audience.
>>>> We can understand, that somebody likes non-typical (for his age/gender)
>>>> things and suggest those things he/she likes.
>>>> There are many websites with products, services and  creative works,
>>>> which
>>>> explicitly mark their audience:
>>>> Games (5-12 years old):
>>>> http://www.mosigra.ru/Face/Show/detskie_detektivi_5_12/
>>>> Sport classes (mostly constrained by age in Russia): http://ttcentr.ru/
>>>> Music courses (also russian): http://www.muz-school.ru/courses/deti
>>>> http://www.ssww.com/item/candy-land-GA4700/cmc=BRWSGAMBRDYTH/grp=GAM/sbgrp=BRD/ln=YTH/fp=GA4700/sort=sales/p=1/
>>>> http://www.games14.co/
>>>> http://www.gymboree.com/index.jsp?ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395917465&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374303003787&bmUID=1354815600298
>>>> (see categories)
>>>> (I skip huge amount of woman clothes)
>>>>   2. The Audience proposal; based on the RDFa schema in
>>>>   https://bitbucket.org/elderos/schemaorg/src I've built a test version
>>>>   of the schema.org site that includes the Audience proposal (see
>>>>   http://www.w3.org/wiki/WebSchemas/Audience ). The draft site is at
>>>>   http://sdo99a.appspot.com e.g. see http://sdo99a.appspot.com/Audience
>>>> [..]
>>>>   From a technical point of view, this is fine of course. From an
>>>> ethical
>>>> one, there are aspects I find seriously worrying if not potentially
>>>> offensive.
>>>> Why does anyone need to define the maximum age of an audience? An adult
>>>> friend of mine is not a strong reader. He reads books targeted at 11
>>>> year olds - and enjoys them. Why put it in his face that he's reading
>>>> children's books?
>>>> Minimum age - fine. We understand that. But you won't ever see a
>>>> maximum
>>>> age on a film or game.
>>>> Daft. Drop it.
>>>> Gender? For a target audience? What? OK, so I'm a wishy washy dripping
>>>> wet liberal but if a girl wants to play with "boys' toys" or a boy
>>>> wants
>>>> to read "chick lit" - why not? I think the content should speak for
>>>> itself and the potential consumer decide whether he/she wants it. The
>>>> Twilight saga is basically aimed at teenage girls, yes? I know at least
>>>> one teenage boy that read the whole series and many post-teenage girls
>>>> who enjoyed it too.
>>>> Of course content *is* targeted at gender, but I don't think it should
>>>> be part of the data.
>>>> Drop it.
>>>> The parental ones - i.e. this is for parents of children aged x - y
>>>> does
>>>> make sense. That's potentially useful for parents.


Phil Archer
W3C eGovernment
See you at the Transatlantic Research on Policy Modelling Workshop
January 28 - 29 2013, Washington DC
Details at http://www.crossover-project.eu/workshop.aspx

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Received on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 17:53:46 UTC

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