Deconfusing Taxonomists and Ontologists

October 1, 2010

“Skills of a Classy Taxonomist” tackles a subject that some English majors turned search experts often sidestep. This article explains “taxonomists build hierarchies and ontologist determine classes or categories.” The key point is that “ontologies are neat and unambiguous and taxonomies are a bit messy.”

The most interesting part of the article asserts that a faceted taxonomy is more useful than a plain vanilla taxonomy. With a faceted taxonomy, the author asserts, some challenges are confronted and resolved; specifically:

  • Clarify specific terms by situation or function
  • Ease long-term maintenance issues
  • Facilitate sharing and importing of taxonomies.

If you want to reduce your taxonomy hassles, you will want to navigate to “The Taxonomy Blog”. The product that delivers the benefits referenced is Top Quadrant. There are some other solutions that work as well; for example, Access Innovations’ system and, for the code savvy, some open source components.

My view is that most organizations talk about taxonomies and ontologies and then find that the cost and effort to sustain a project as language changes makes the effort expendable. That’s too bad, but economic realities often force “good enough” tagging on hapless users.

Stephen E Arnold, October 1, 2010



2 Responses to “Deconfusing Taxonomists and Ontologists”

  1. Vital Decay (via Naught Thought) « Minimal ve Maksimal Yaz?lar on October 2nd, 2010 2:04 pm

    […] Deconfusing Taxonomists and Ontologists ( […]

  2. External User-facing Search and Taxonomies « The Taxonomy Blog on November 17th, 2010 9:45 am

    […] Deconfusing Taxonomists and Ontologists ( […]

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