“Data on the Web” Best Practices

W3C First Public Working Draft: “…The best practices described below have been developed to encourage and enable the continued expansion of the Web as a medium for the exchange of data. The growth of open data by governments across the world [OKFN-INDEX], the increasing publication of research data encouraged by organizations like the Research Data Alliance [RDA], the harvesting and analysis of social media, crowd-sourcing of information, the provision of important cultural heritage collections such as at the Bibliothèque nationale de France [BNF] and the sustained growth in the Linked Open Data Cloud [LODC], provide some examples of this phenomenon.

In broad terms, data publishers aim to share data either openly or with controlled access. Data consumers (who may also be producers themselves) want to be able to find and use data, especially if it is accurate, regularly updated and guaranteed to be available at all times. This creates a fundamental need for a common understanding between data publishers and data consumers. Without this agreement, data publishers’ efforts may be incompatible with data consumers’ desires.

Publishing data on the Web creates new challenges, such as how to represent, describe and make data available in a way that it will be easy to find and to understand. In this context, it becomes crucial to provide guidance to publishers that will improve consistency in the way data is managed, thus promoting the re-use of data and also to foster trust in the data among developers, whatever technology they choose to use, increasing the potential for genuine innovation.

This document sets out a series of best practices that will help publishers and consumers face the new challenges and opportunities posed by data on the Web.

Best practices cover different aspects related to data publishing and consumption, like data formats, data access, data identification and metadata. In order to delimit the scope and elicit the required features for Data on the Web Best Practices, the DWBP working group compiled a set of use cases [UCR] that represent scenarios of how data is commonly published on the Web and how it is used. The set of requirements derived from these use cases were used to guide the development of the best practice.

The Best Practices proposed in this document are intended to serve a more general purpose than the practices suggested in Best Practices for Publishing Linked Data [LD-BP] since it is domain-independent and whilst it recommends the use of Linked Data, it also promotes best practices for data on the web in formats such as CSV and JSON. The Best Practices related to the use of vocabularies incorporate practices that stem from Best Practices for Publishing Linked Data where appropriate….(More)