AGROVOC Editorial Meeting 2019 - Report available

The AGROVOC team at FAO bears responsibility for maintaining AGROVOC in the six languages of FAO (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian) and for coordinating all other contributions from the AGROVOC community of editors, which encompasses the maintainers of AGROVOC language versions (see Report)
and communities of experts in specific domains (see Report). This work is voluntary on the part of the institutions.

As of June 2019, AGROVOC is also available in Burmese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Georgian, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Swahili, Swedish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. Language coverage
varies, The framework is in place for regional variants of Spanish and Portuguese, as well as Albanian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Estonian, Gaelic, Greek, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Northern Sami, Norwegian Nynorsk, Serbian and Slovenian, pending identification of national editors.

The FAO team collaborates with the Artificial Intelligence Research group, University of Tor Vergata in Rome, on the use of a multi-user and multilingual editorial platform, VocBench, and on the publication of AGROVOC as a Linked Open Data resource.

Since 2018, the editorial community has met twice to consider new technical possibilities and set priorities for the further development of AGROVOC. A June 2018 meeting in Utrecht (The Netherlands), organized jointly with the Land Portal Foundation, brought together 25 participants from 18 institutions in 14 countries to review the status of editorial policies and prepare an upgrade of the VocBench platform. A June 2019 meeting, hosted by the German Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (KTBL) in Darmstadt (Germany), brought together 33 editors and stakeholders from 16 countries and 13 language areas.

This year’s meeting

This year’s meeting focused on improving support for AGROVOC editors in communities of experts. A new feature of VocBench, “multischeme”, allows editors to define distinct subschemes, within AGROVOC, with the option of defining their own distinct, domain-specific hierarchies (“multihierarchy”). Multischeme capability enables expert communities to enrich AGROVOC as a whole while building their own specialized concept schemes. Two subschemes are currently under development – LandVoc, a controlled vocabulary about land governance, and the FAO Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) vocabulary – with more in the pipeline. The AGROVOC thesaurus and related semantic services and protocols will be used to strengthen the classification system of the legislative and policy database FAOLEX and enhance its visibility, interoperability, and usability.

It was decided in Darmstadt to form a task force to resolve issues of editorial policy, subject to approval by the broader community of editors, and to revise the official AGROVOC editorial guidelines accordingly. The Task Force will formulate policies for handling regional variations in agricultural terminology and review the logical
structure of AGROVOC – its hierarchical relations, custom associative relations, and term types – for consistency and usability. The task force will produce a shortened version of the editorial guidelines that can more easily be translated into multiple languages.

The community also discussed the need for capacity development, in the form of online courses and videos, aimed at helping information professionals maintain controlled vocabularies, integrate AGROVOC into local applications, and publish open data. Future meetings may examine how the use and maintenance of AGROVOC might benefit from mapping to Wikidata and from advances in software for semi-automated resource tagging, concept alignment, improved searching, voice recognition, and machine learning.

For more detailed information, please check the Report attached.

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