A controlled crowdsourcing approach for practical ontology extensions and metadata annotations

Yolanda Gil, Daniel Garijo, Varun Ratnakar, Deborah Khider, Julien Emile-Geay, Nicholas McKay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Semantic Web – ISWC 2017 - 16th International Semantic Web Conference, Proceedings
EditorsMiriam Fernandez, Claudia d’Amato, Valentina Tamma, Philippe Cudre-Mauroux, Freddy Lecue, Christoph Lange, Juan Sequeda, Jeff Heflin
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783319682037
StatePublished - 2017
Event16th International Semantic Web Conference, ISWC 2017 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: Oct 21 2017Oct 25 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10588 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference16th International Semantic Web Conference, ISWC 2017


  • Collaborative ontology engineering
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Incremental vocabulary development
  • Metadata
  • Semantic science
  • Semantic wiki

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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