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formal vs. informal terms

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  • Layton, Charles F
    I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 1, 2005
      I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance manuals). The person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea because he thought it supported the use of the informal terms and he wanted people to use the formal terms. The person in charge of maintenance preferred having the informal terms in the taxo because those are the ones people actually use. In fact, I'm willing to bet that a number of people know only the informal terms, not the formal ones. I want to optimize performance, so I'd like to include the informal terms.

      Have any of you run into this before? How did you address it?

      Thanks!
      Chuck
    • kate.simpson@freshfields.com
      will your interface display the informal terms? even if it does, the great thing about distinguishing between preferred terms and non-preferred terms is that
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 1, 2005
        will your interface display the informal terms?
        even if it does, the great thing about distinguishing between preferred terms and non-preferred terms is that you can *teach* users a language - every time they do a search, or browse a tree-like structure (for example), as long as it is the formal term that is the term in the search box or the term that is the link (and with the use of "do you mean...?") users will learn the formal terms and drop the informal terms over time. The point of using something like a thesaurus, that can represent some of the relationships that exist between terms, is to include as many of the synonyms and informal terms that might exist to meet the diverse range of possible users and to represent some of the complexity and richness of the English language, and that's even required within a closed group.
         
        I work in a law firm and lawyers just cannot agree on one term for a legal concept. We can try and create a common language for the firm to use, but it has to be done as a learning process. Add into that the other eight supported languages for the firm and the number of synonyms/informal terms increases dramatically - allowing users to use their own terms until they get used to alternatives is essential I think!
         
        I've found some of the most donkey-like reactions when lawyers think you are *forcing* them to use a certain term/phrase over another...!
         
        Kate
        -----Original Message-----
        From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Layton, Charles F
        Sent: 01 July 2005 14:32
        To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [TaxoCoP] formal vs. informal terms

        I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area yesterday.  I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance manuals).  The person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea because he thought it supported the use of the informal terms and he wanted people to use the formal terms.  The person in charge of maintenance preferred having the informal terms in the taxo because those are the ones people actually use.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that a number of people know only the informal terms, not the formal ones.  I want to optimize performance, so I'd like to include the informal terms.

        Have any of you run into this before?  How did you address it?

        Thanks!
        Chuck

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      • Layton, Charles F
        Thanks, Kate! That s a good selling point: I can use the informal terms to teach the formal ones. That should make both sides happy, as well as achieve the
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 1, 2005
          Thanks, Kate!

          That's a good selling point: I can use the informal terms to teach the formal ones. That should make both sides happy, as well as achieve the goal of finding the relevant documents.

          -----Original Message-----
          From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com on behalf of kate.simpson@...
          Sent: Fri 7/1/2005 9:01 AM
          To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
          Cc:
          Subject: RE: [TaxoCoP] formal vs. informal terms


          will your interface display the informal terms?
          even if it does, the great thing about distinguishing between preferred terms and non-preferred terms is that you can *teach* users a language - every time they do a search, or browse a tree-like structure (for example), as long as it is the formal term that is the term in the search box or the term that is the link (and with the use of "do you mean...?") users will learn the formal terms and drop the informal terms over time. The point of using something like a thesaurus, that can represent some of the relationships that exist between terms, is to include as many of the synonyms and informal terms that might exist to meet the diverse range of possible users and to represent some of the complexity and richness of the English language, and that's even required within a closed group.

          I work in a law firm and lawyers just cannot agree on one term for a legal concept. We can try and create a common language for the firm to use, but it has to be done as a learning process. Add into that the other eight supported languages for the firm and the number of synonyms/informal terms increases dramatically - allowing users to use their own terms until they get used to alternatives is essential I think!

          I've found some of the most donkey-like reactions when lawyers think you are *forcing* them to use a certain term/phrase over another...!

          Kate

          -----Original Message-----
          From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Layton, Charles F
          Sent: 01 July 2005 14:32
          To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [TaxoCoP] formal vs. informal terms


          I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance manuals). The person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea because he thought it supported the use of the informal terms and he wanted people to use the formal terms. The person in charge of maintenance preferred having the informal terms in the taxo because those are the ones people actually use. In fact, I'm willing to bet that a number of people know only the informal terms, not the formal ones. I want to optimize performance, so I'd like to include the informal terms.

          Have any of you run into this before? How did you address it?

          Thanks!
          Chuck


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          This e-mail is confidential and may well also be legally privileged. If you have received it in error, you are on notice of its status. Please notify us immediately by reply e-mail and then delete this message from your system. Please do not copy it or use it for any purposes, or disclose its contents to any other person: to do so could be a breach of confidence. Thank you for your co-operation. Please contact our IT Helpdesk on +44 (0) 20 7936 4000 Ext.2000 or email ITHelp@... if you need assistance.

          Please refer to http://www.freshfields.com/legalnotice/uk.asp for regulatory information relating to the provision of insurance mediation services.
        • craighubleyca
          ... my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped them to
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 4, 2005
            --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "Layton, Charles F"
            <charles.layton@n...> wrote:
            > I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in
            my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that
            included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors)
            and mapped them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance
            manuals). The person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea
            because he thought it supported the use of the informal terms and he
            wanted people to use the formal terms. The person in charge of
            maintenance preferred having the informal terms in the taxo because
            those are the ones people actually use. In fact, I'm willing to bet
            that a number of people know only the informal terms, not the formal
            ones. I want to optimize performance, so I'd like to include the
            informal terms.
            >
            > Have any of you run into this before? How did you address it?

            Yup, run into it all the time. The answer I usually apply is:

            1. define the formal terms very very exactly with lots of cross links
            and engineering tests

            2. define the informal terms colloquially quoting the maintenance
            people exactly - chances are, what they are talking about is not
            exactly the same scope as the formal terms - they may have developed
            some distinctions that are not made formally

            3. make sure that where there is substantial overlap, they point to
            each other, and that underlying task or action descriptions are in
            common - you might need to add another level just for this, but you
            can't avoid it - there must be some agreement on the "bottom level"
            terms

            3a. if you're using a wiki, then, make liberal use of redirects and
            make sure to include the informal and formal terms both as legitimate
            titles and links

            4. encourage these folks to actually start talking to each other -
            chances are there are worse problems arising from them not talking
          • Seth Earley
            One of the challenges in deploying your taxonomy is getting people to use and understand the terms. There are three parts to the problem. 1. Deciding on the
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 5, 2005
              One of the challenges in deploying your taxonomy is getting people to use and understand the terms. There are three parts to the problem.

              1. Deciding on the terms
              This means that people need to agree on meanings and usage in advance of applying them.

              2. Linking terms to concepts - tagging documents
              We have a list of terms. Now someone needs to apply those terms to represent ideas that authors are trying to convey in their documents. We do this not necessarily from our perspective, but from the imagined perspective of a user trying to find something.

              As someone tagging the document, I need to be familiar with the subject area, I need to boil what the author is trying to say in a few terms and I need to decide whether the user will understand that connection.

              3. Educating the user about the terms and how we link them to documents
              This is where informal and formal terms come into play. A purist engineer will want to use the correct term.. But in practice, people are culturally familiar with terms they use in their day to day tasks. Their peers and colleagues may use the common term to communicate, so it will be difficult to change that.

              We have to define the term for users and we need to give them some expectation of what they will find when they use that term.

              How have others addressed this issue? I want to call it "operationalizing" the taxonomy. What kinds of experiences have people had in this area?

              These are some of the things we will talk about in our next Community of Practice call at the end of the month. We are looking for case examples. It doesn't matter what stage you are at, just as long as you would like to talk about your project and get feedback from the group.

              Seth



              Seth Earley

              Earley & Associates, Inc

              781-444-0287

              781-820-8080 cell

              Next taxo conference call July 27th 2 PM EDT
              "Best Practices in Taxonomy Deployment"
              Registration and agenda at
              www.earley.com/events.htm <http://www.earley.com/events.htm>

              Taxonomy Community of Practice

              http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxoCoP/ <http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxoCoP/>



              -----Original Message-----
              From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf
              Of Layton, Charles F
              Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 9:32 AM
              To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [TaxoCoP] formal vs. informal terms


              I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance manuals). The person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea because he thought it supported the use of the informal terms and he wanted people to use the formal terms. The person in charge of maintenance preferred having the informal terms in the taxo because those are the ones people actually use. In fact, I'm willing to bet that a number of people know only the informal terms, not the formal ones. I want to optimize performance, so I'd like to include the informal terms.

              Have any of you run into this before? How did you address it?

              Thanks!
              Chuck



              Yahoo! Groups Links
            • Jan C. Wright
              This issue arose for me, except it wasn t formal and informal terms. If your user base is 50% English as a Second Language readers and searchers, and your
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 5, 2005
                This issue arose for me, except it wasn't formal and informal terms. If
                your user base is 50% English as a Second Language readers and searchers,
                and your subject includes a lot of technical acronyms, what do you do? The
                targeted user base played a very heavy factor in the search for a solution
                that would revolve and display alternate terms based on a user profile. ESL
                user - display these terms and acronyms. Internal user - display the formal
                spelled-out terms. It meant having extra slots to indicate which alternate
                term fit a certain profile. And the ability to turn on that alternate display.

                My thoughts were that an ESL user might not know the spellout, and might
                never have seen it. So I wanted to be able to use the acronyms in certain
                settings. It goes against the grain, but then again, it depends on the
                audience you are targeting.

                Jan

                At 02:27 PM 7/5/2005, you wrote:


                >Seth Earley
                >
                >Earley & Associates, Inc
                >
                >781-444-0287
                >
                >781-820-8080 cell
                >
                >Next taxo conference call July 27th 2 PM EDT
                >"Best Practices in Taxonomy Deployment"
                >Registration and agenda at
                >www.earley.com/events.htm
                ><<http://www.earley.com/events.htm>http://www.earley.com/events.htm>
                >
                >Taxonomy Community of Practice
                >
                ><http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxoCoP/>http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxoCoP/
                ><http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxoCoP/>
                >
                >
                >
                >-----Original Message-----
                >From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf
                >Of Layton, Charles F
                >Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 9:32 AM
                >To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
                >Subject: [TaxoCoP] formal vs. informal terms
                >
                >
                >I had an interesting exchange with some of the decision makers in my area
                >yesterday. I had been planning on building a taxonomy that included
                >informal terms (such as porkchop fitting and batwing doors) and mapped
                >them to the formal terms (as described in maintenance manuals). The
                >person in charge of engineering didn't like the idea because he thought it
                >supported the use of the informal terms and he wanted people to use the
                >formal terms. The person in charge of maintenance preferred having the
                >informal terms in the taxo because those are the ones people actually
                >use. In fact, I'm willing to bet that a number of people know only the
                >informal terms, not the formal ones. I want to optimize performance, so
                >I'd like to include the informal terms.
                >
                >Have any of you run into this before? How did you address it?
                >
                >Thanks!
                >Chuck
                >
                >
                >
                >Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
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