In-Use – Paper 139
Traditional approaches to ontology development have a large lapse between the time when a user using the ontology has found a need to extend it and the time when it does get extended. For scientists, this delay can be weeks or months and can be a significant barrier for adoption. We present a new approach to ontology development and data annotation enabling users to add new metadata properties on the fly as they describe their datasets, creating terms that can be immediately adopted by others and eventually become standardized. This approach combines a traditional, consensus-based approach to ontology development, and a crowdsourced approach where expert users (the crowd) can dynamically add terms as needed to support their work. We have implemented this approach as a socio-technical system that includes: 1) a crowdsourcing platform to support metadata annotation and addition of new terms, 2) a range of social editorial processes to make standardization decisions for those new terms, and 3) a framework for ontology revision and updates to the metadata created with the previous version of the ontology. We present a prototype implementation for the paleoclimate community, the Linked Earth Framework, currently containing 700 datasets and engaging over 50 active contributors. Users exploit the platform to do science while extending the metadata vocabulary, thereby producing useful and practical metadata.