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Managing acronyms

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  • bren4444
    Hello all, I m looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include many in our thesaurus, but they re also lurking about elsewhere in other lists
    Message 1 of 14 , Aug 4, 2008
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      Hello all,

      I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
      many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
      other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:

      1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one list
      for obvious reasons.

      2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm trying
      to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as a
      preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term, but
      what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of the
      acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
      thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people use
      the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it would
      make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.

      Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited resources, so
      we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
      have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
      least like to hear of good ways to do it.

      TIA,

      Brenda
    • wbitunjac
      I have used a disambiguation interrupt (when available) to prompt users to select from a list of preferred terms. In the case of acronyms I only do this when
      Message 2 of 14 , Aug 4, 2008
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        I have used a disambiguation interrupt (when available) to prompt
        users to select from a list of preferred terms. In the case of
        acronyms I only do this when I there are multiple acronyms - in the
        case of a single use where there isn't usuall an interupt - the
        content is indexed under both the acronym as well as the preferred
        term from the search perspective but the item is only indexed using
        the official term in the DB or system of record. (I can currently
        build separate taxonomy and semantic rules in my search engine
        without cluttering my thesari or indexing engine with extra
        terms/rules)

        On principle I don't like to add them to my Thesaurus and would like
        to send them to a preferred term. My end users are more likely to
        use the acronyms but don't always understand the issues surrounding
        conflicting acronyms and thesauri. I have found disambiguation a
        powerful tool in both keeping the tagging nice and clean, while also
        training users on the existence of preferred terms. I've seen that
        power users tend to migrate to the preferred terms quickly while
        casual users rely on the disambiguation interrupt to force
        clarification.

        I've also never had an end user in search or in tagging tell me that
        a disambiguation interrupt was alarming or annoying. If anything
        people are thankful that the system asks them to clarify their intent
        before proceeding instead of giving them inaccurate results.

        Bill Bitunjac
        Target Corporation



        --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello all,
        >
        > I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We
        include
        > many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
        > other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:
        >
        > 1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one
        list
        > for obvious reasons.
        >
        > 2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm
        trying
        > to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as
        a
        > preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term,
        but
        > what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of
        the
        > acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
        > thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people
        use
        > the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it
        would
        > make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.
        >
        > Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited
        resources, so
        > we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
        > have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
        > least like to hear of good ways to do it.
        >
        > TIA,
        >
        > Brenda
        >
      • Layne Foit
        Hi Brenda, Great questions! This is a common problem for most of us practicing taxonomy. At a previous job I helped manage an acronym finder tool that was
        Message 3 of 14 , Aug 4, 2008
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          Hi Brenda,
           
          Great questions! This is a common problem for most of us practicing taxonomy.
           
          At a previous job I helped manage an "acronym finder" tool that was fed directly by an enterprise taxonomy that we developed and maintained primarily for meta-tagging content for search and retrieval.
           
          My experience suggests that with any organization or audience, there is always a subset of users that doesn't know what every acronym stands for (whether or not it's been determined to be the "authoritative" way to refer to a given concept). Further, some acronyms can stand for multiple things (e.g. ALA stands for American Library Association and Association of Legal Admininstrators).
           
          Our solution was to make all fully spelled-out terms the preferred, or authoritative, term form; and make a single acronym an entry-- or lead-in-- term for multiple preferred terms.
           
          In the search scenario, a user would come to the system with ALA, and return both American Library Association and Association of Legal Admininstrators with separate definitions. The user could then gauge each entry against the context where s/he originally saw the acronym, and disambiguate the acronym as it suited him/her.
           
          I can get into further detail at another time if you like.
           
          Thanks,
           
          Layne Foit
          Information Architect / Taxonomy Consultant
          Ascentium Corporation

          On Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 12:06 PM, wbitunjac <wbitunjac@...> wrote:

          I have used a disambiguation interrupt (when available) to prompt
          users to select from a list of preferred terms. In the case of
          acronyms I only do this when I there are multiple acronyms - in the
          case of a single use where there isn't usuall an interupt - the
          content is indexed under both the acronym as well as the preferred
          term from the search perspective but the item is only indexed using
          the official term in the DB or system of record. (I can currently
          build separate taxonomy and semantic rules in my search engine
          without cluttering my thesari or indexing engine with extra
          terms/rules)

          On principle I don't like to add them to my Thesaurus and would like
          to send them to a preferred term. My end users are more likely to
          use the acronyms but don't always understand the issues surrounding
          conflicting acronyms and thesauri. I have found disambiguation a
          powerful tool in both keeping the tagging nice and clean, while also
          training users on the existence of preferred terms. I've seen that
          power users tend to migrate to the preferred terms quickly while
          casual users rely on the disambiguation interrupt to force
          clarification.

          I've also never had an end user in search or in tagging tell me that
          a disambiguation interrupt was alarming or annoying. If anything
          people are thankful that the system asks them to clarify their intent
          before proceeding instead of giving them inaccurate results.

          Bill Bitunjac
          Target Corporation

          --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hello all,
          >
          > I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We
          include
          > many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
          > other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:
          >
          > 1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one
          list
          > for obvious reasons.
          >
          > 2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm
          trying
          > to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as
          a
          > preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term,
          but
          > what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of
          the
          > acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
          > thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people
          use
          > the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it
          would
          > make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.
          >
          > Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited
          resources, so
          > we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
          > have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
          > least like to hear of good ways to do it.
          >
          > TIA,
          >
          > Brenda
          >


        • Alice Redmond-Neal
          Hi, Brenda, I share your pain, and I wish I had a simple answer. In addition to the inconsistency about who uses acronyms at all and who uses which acronyms is
          Message 4 of 14 , Aug 4, 2008
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            Hi, Brenda,

            I share your pain, and I wish I had a simple answer. In addition to the inconsistency about who uses acronyms at all and who uses which acronyms is the moving target issue--the fully-written out form of today becomes the way-too-obvious verbose expression tomorrow when everyone has adopted the acronym. Generally we try to use the full form as preferred and acronym or initialism as nonpreferred, except for those abbreviations that have achieved wide acceptance. That still leaves some inconsistency, but it's a manageable compromise between the ideal and real usage. Both forms are maintained in our thesaurus system. Our categorization system maintains the rules to make the switch for indexing, recognizing the nonpref and applying the preferred form, whether for indexer or searcher.

            Alice
            Alice Redmond-Neal
          • Gardner, Mike
            Just to add to what others have said I will add our experience. We have a world wide company of 100,000 folk so trying to maintain consistency of terminology
            Message 5 of 14 , Aug 5, 2008
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              Just to add to what others have said I will add our experience.
               
              We have a world wide company of 100,000 folk so trying to maintain consistency of terminology and acronyms is very difficult. We try to encourage everyone to integrate their specific area glossaries and thesauri in to our master "taxonomy". This provides the ability for each group to still be able to view their own sub-glossaries. Having got the acronyms in a master list we then ensure that those terms are integrated in to our search tool to provide the capability to find content whether it is stored in documentation using the full term or the acronym. You need to think carefully about whether you have one way or two way capabilities for the acronyms in the search tool, as some acronyms can apply to two very different terms. This way at least search results find all the appropriate content wherever it is stored.
               
              You will never capture everything as terms and acronyms are created on a regular basis, but you can try to keep as current as possible and ensure that the business recognizes it is their responsibility to maintain their terms, and the better job they do, the better results they are likely to get back in search.
               
              Mike Gardner
              EDS CIO EKM Team - EDS Taxonomist & Content Rationalization Leader
              Telephone: +44 (0)1332 663964 (Home Office)
              Mobile: +44 (0)7790 492991
              Work from home, Derby, UK
              micheal.gardner@...

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              From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of bren4444
              Sent: 04 August 2008 16:21
              To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [TaxoCoP] Managing acronyms

              Hello all,

              I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
              many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
              other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:

              1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one list
              for obvious reasons.

              2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm trying
              to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as a
              preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term, but
              what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of the
              acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
              thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people use
              the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it would
              make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.

              Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited resources, so
              we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
              have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
              least like to hear of good ways to do it.

              TIA,

              Brenda

            • ahrenlehnert
              Brenda, There have been some very good points raised here in this discussion on acronym use within a thesaurus. For several years, I worked on a large
              Message 6 of 14 , Aug 5, 2008
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                Brenda,

                There have been some very good points raised here in this discussion on acronym use within a thesaurus.  For several years, I worked on a large thesaurus (over 56,000 terms) for the Modern Language Association International Bibliography (and, yes, the MLA is also the Michigan Library Association, the Medical Library Association, the Music Library Association, and probably a few other organizations), and our scope was wide enough to include academic and political organizations with acronyms as preferred names.

                Our mode of working was to establish one rule and disambiguate additions not fitting that rule (as in Layne’s post).  That method is great for those indexing or tagging on the back end but often conflicts with the end user’s needs on the front end.  In the case of acronyms, we used the full term as the preferred and added the acronym as the used for term.  For one of a kind institutionsâ€"those with unique acronyms or at least unique to the controlled vocabulary which you are working onâ€"it was a one to one relationship.  Search for the UN and it redirects the user to United Nations.  However, as I’ve pointed out above, the one to one relationship is not always possible.  In the cases of multiple acronyms, we used parentheticals to disambiguate while still redirecting to the preferred complete term for each.  So, in the case of the MLA, it would be:

                MLA (Modern Language Association)

                MLA (Michigan Library Association)

                MLA (Medical Library Association)

                MLA (Music Library Association)

                Each term is a used for term for the full name of the organization.

                On the front end, when a user types in MLA it should not retrieve all document results for all MLA terms but present this list from which a user can select the accurate, or most likely, search term.  Thus, the acronym MLA is associated to all of the above acronyms but only one of each entry above leads to the preferred full term.

                You asked if it pays to keep these acronyms in the thesaurus.  I think it does.  Of course it depends on your users and their level of familiarity with the subject matter, but I would venture to guess that many people do know the organization (or any other) acronym but not necessarily for what it stands.

                You also pointed out that you don’t have expensive taxonomy management software.  At the MLA we used Lotus Notes.  Enough said.  For every term, we had to consider ways to force it to behave on the front end the way we thought users may engage with the term.  This was a very manual process, but having established rules of preference for how terms were entered into the thesaurus allowed for as much consistency as possible when talking about a large thesaurus spanning decades of indexed materials.

                My experience is much more about setting rules and governing those rules than it is on the technical side of honing search parameters to disambiguate terms in document context or from end user searches.  Of course, finding that balance between establishing consistent rules, enforcing them, and honing the technology to best act on those rules (or, in some cases, the technology forces the controlled vocabulary rules) is the best way to go.

                In addition to the great posts above, I hope this helps!

                Ahren E. Lehnert

                Taxonomy Consultant, Earley & Associates


                --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hello all,
                >
                > I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
                > many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
                > other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:
                >
                > 1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one list
                > for obvious reasons.
                >
                > 2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm trying
                > to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as a
                > preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term, but
                > what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of the
                > acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
                > thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people use
                > the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it would
                > make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.
                >
                > Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited resources, so
                > we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
                > have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
                > least like to hear of good ways to do it.
                >
                > TIA,
                >
                > Brenda
                >
              • Brenda Darrah
                Thanks so much Ahren, Mike, Alice, and Layne for sharing your process for managing acronyms. It sounds like the right thing to do would be to keep the
                Message 7 of 14 , Aug 5, 2008
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                  Thanks so much Ahren, Mike, Alice, and Layne for sharing your process for managing acronyms.  It sounds like the right thing to do would be to keep the acronyms in the thesaurus, as difficult as the process might be.  I’m glad to know I’m not alone in wrestling with this problem.  At the very least, I can try to round up all of those rogue acronym lists and get them in the thesaurus!

                   

                  Thanks again,

                   

                  Brenda

                   

                  From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of ahrenlehnert
                  Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 9:24 AM
                  To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [TaxoCoP] Re: Managing acronyms

                   

                  Brenda,

                  There have been some very good points raised here in this discussion on acronym use within a thesaurus.  For several years, I worked on a large thesaurus (over 56,000 terms) for the Modern Language Association International Bibliography (and, yes, the MLA is also the Michigan Library Association, the Medical Library Association, the Music Library Association, and probably a few other organizations), and our scope was wide enough to include academic and political organizations with acronyms as preferred names.

                  Our mode of working was to establish one rule and disambiguate additions not fitting that rule (as in Layne’s post).  That method is great for those indexing or tagging on the back end but often conflicts with the end user’s needs on the front end.  In the case of acronyms, we used the full term as the preferred and added the acronym as the used for term.  For one of a kind institutionsâ€"those with unique acronyms or at least unique to the controlled vocabulary which you are working onâ€"it was a one to one relationship.  Search for the UN and it redirects the user to United Nations.  However, as I’ve pointed out above, the one to one relationship is not always possible.  In the cases of multiple acronyms, we used parentheticals to disambiguate while still redirecting to the preferred complete term for each.  So, in the case of the MLA, it would be:

                  MLA (Modern Language Association)

                  MLA (Michigan Library Association)

                  MLA (Medical Library Association)

                  MLA (Music Library Association)

                  Each term is a used for term for the full name of the organization.

                  On the front end, when a user types in MLA it should not retrieve all document results for all MLA terms but present this list from which a user can select the accurate, or most likely, search term.  Thus, the acronym MLA is associated to all of the above acronyms but only one of each entry above leads to the preferred full term.

                  You asked if it pays to keep these acronyms in the thesaurus.  I think it does.  Of course it depends on your users and their level of familiarity with the subject matter, but I would venture to guess that many people do know the organization (or any other) acronym but not necessarily for what it stands.

                  You also pointed out that you don’t have expensive taxonomy management software.  At the MLA we used Lotus Notes.  Enough said.  For every term, we had to consider ways to force it to behave on the front end the way we thought users may engage with the term.  This was a very manual process, but having established rules of preference for how terms were entered into the thesaurus allowed for as much consistency as possible when talking about a large thesaurus spanning decades of indexed materials.

                  My experience is much more about setting rules and governing those rules than it is on the technical side of honing search parameters to disambiguate terms in document context or from end user searches.  Of course, finding that balance between establishing consistent rules, enforcing them, and honing the technology to best act on those rules (or, in some cases, the technology forces the controlled vocabulary rules) is the best way to go.

                  In addition to the great posts above, I hope this helps!

                  Ahren E. Lehnert

                  Taxonomy Consultant, Earley & Associates


                  --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hello all,
                  >
                  > I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
                  > many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
                  > other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:
                  >
                  > 1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one list
                  > for obvious reasons.
                  >
                  > 2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm trying
                  > to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as a
                  > preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term, but
                  > what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of the
                  > acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
                  > thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people use
                  > the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it would
                  > make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.
                  >
                  > Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited resources, so
                  > we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
                  > have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
                  > least like to hear of good ways to do it.
                  >
                  > TIA,
                  >
                  > Brenda
                  >

                • Kristina
                  Hello, Allow me to de-lurk, introduce myself and comment on this thread. I am Kristina Aston, Metadata Team Lead and Information Architect at Agriculture and
                  Message 8 of 14 , Aug 6, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hello,
                    Allow me to de-lurk, introduce myself and comment on this thread. I am
                    Kristina Aston, Metadata Team Lead and Information Architect at
                    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a Canadian government department. A
                    few things I'm responsible for are metadata for web resources,
                    creating and maintaining the Department's controlled vocabularies for
                    the content management systems (there are numerous CMSs) and engaging
                    with the Search team to consume the metadata in our resources by the
                    search engine. I do lots of other stuff, but those are the things that
                    are most relevant to this thread. :)

                    I too have struggled with acronyms in our subject taxonomy. One of the
                    roles of my Department is to provide funding to Canadian farmers, and
                    many of those funding programs are known by an acronym. The acronyms
                    are see refs in the taxonomy; however adding to the complexity, the
                    funding program names can change annually. It has become very
                    difficult to maintain.

                    It is also worth mentioning that the acronyms are pretty audience and
                    context-specific: not many people would use the acronyms outside the
                    Department.

                    When a farmer searches the website for the program, they search for
                    the acronym, not the full name -- we know this by examining the search
                    logs. Our search engine (Autonomy) handles this easily via fulltext,
                    but we also know it is faster if we have the acronym in the subject
                    metadata (which we do in the see ref).

                    Even though this solution works, it is time-consuming. So as a work
                    around, we have started using Autonomy's Thesaurus Rings as an
                    operational solution to handle acronyms outside the taxonomy. We can
                    add and remove see refs (or unused terms, or anything else we want,
                    but I have limited it to just terms that are more "transient") more
                    easily than in our subject vocabulary, which requires more rigour,
                    analysis, and approval from our Controlled Vocabulary Committee and
                    business clients.

                    As an aside, we are also using the thesaurus rings with acronyms to
                    increase search result ranking. I can expand on that if there is
                    interest.

                    Is anyone else using thesaurus rings as an operational solution to not
                    putting acronyms into a taxonomy, particularly in situations where
                    terms may be more transient?

                    Thanks for such a great list, I have learned so much!

                    Best,
                    /kristina
                    astonk@...


                    > --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:
                    >>
                    >> I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
                    >> many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
                    >> other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:
                  • wbitunjac
                    When I mentioned that we were reconciling acronyms in search and not cluttering the index in my previous post I was referring to synonym rings in the search
                    Message 9 of 14 , Aug 6, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      When I mentioned that we were reconciling acronyms in search and not
                      cluttering the index in my previous post I was referring to synonym
                      rings in the search logic rather than something in the corporate
                      taxonomy (probably should have clarified but I'm never sure if people
                      are interested)

                      It does require that I manage both the taxonomy and the search index
                      as separate environments- but there is still probably 80% I've
                      found that its keeps my thesaurus small and more stable and allows me
                      to use the reporting on search terms and path to build some the
                      semantic logic into search based on the users that are comming in.
                      This has helped me lower tagging workload by narrowing the number of
                      terms and let me pass some effort off to search architects to manage
                      the reconcilation of user terms and authority terms for casual users.

                      I'm looking at this with both Fast and Autonomy right now.

                      --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, Kristina <metadatalibrarian@...>
                      wrote:
                      >
                      > Hello,
                      > Allow me to de-lurk, introduce myself and comment on this thread. I
                      am
                      > Kristina Aston, Metadata Team Lead and Information Architect at
                      > Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a Canadian government department.
                      A
                      > few things I'm responsible for are metadata for web resources,
                      > creating and maintaining the Department's controlled vocabularies
                      for
                      > the content management systems (there are numerous CMSs) and
                      engaging
                      > with the Search team to consume the metadata in our resources by the
                      > search engine. I do lots of other stuff, but those are the things
                      that
                      > are most relevant to this thread. :)
                      >
                      > I too have struggled with acronyms in our subject taxonomy. One of
                      the
                      > roles of my Department is to provide funding to Canadian farmers,
                      and
                      > many of those funding programs are known by an acronym. The acronyms
                      > are see refs in the taxonomy; however adding to the complexity, the
                      > funding program names can change annually. It has become very
                      > difficult to maintain.
                      >
                      > It is also worth mentioning that the acronyms are pretty audience
                      and
                      > context-specific: not many people would use the acronyms outside the
                      > Department.
                      >
                      > When a farmer searches the website for the program, they search for
                      > the acronym, not the full name -- we know this by examining the
                      search
                      > logs. Our search engine (Autonomy) handles this easily via fulltext,
                      > but we also know it is faster if we have the acronym in the subject
                      > metadata (which we do in the see ref).
                      >
                      > Even though this solution works, it is time-consuming. So as a work
                      > around, we have started using Autonomy's Thesaurus Rings as an
                      > operational solution to handle acronyms outside the taxonomy. We can
                      > add and remove see refs (or unused terms, or anything else we want,
                      > but I have limited it to just terms that are more "transient") more
                      > easily than in our subject vocabulary, which requires more rigour,
                      > analysis, and approval from our Controlled Vocabulary Committee and
                      > business clients.
                      >
                      > As an aside, we are also using the thesaurus rings with acronyms to
                      > increase search result ranking. I can expand on that if there is
                      > interest.
                      >
                      > Is anyone else using thesaurus rings as an operational solution to
                      not
                      > putting acronyms into a taxonomy, particularly in situations where
                      > terms may be more transient?
                      >
                      > Thanks for such a great list, I have learned so much!
                      >
                      > Best,
                      > /kristina
                      > astonk@...
                      >
                      >
                      > > --- In TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com, "bren4444" <bdarrah@> wrote:
                      > >>
                      > >> I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We
                      include
                      > >> many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere
                      in
                      > >> other lists throughout the organization. This presents two
                      problems:
                      >
                    • Frank Guerino
                      Hi Brenda, Don¹t know if you¹ve found your answer to this but I figured I¹d chime in... I don¹t know if this will help or not but I¹ve found that there
                      Message 10 of 14 , Aug 7, 2008
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                        Re: [TaxoCoP] Managing acronyms Hi Brenda,

                        Don’t know if you’ve found your answer to this but I figured I’d chime in...

                        I don’t know if this will help or not but I’ve found that there really is no perfect answer for this.  What we’ve realized is that many things can have associated acronyms.  So, for example, you can have a “Term” that has an acronym, an “Organization” that has an associated acronym, a “Project” that has an associated acronym, etc. (the list is endless).

                        Not only can a specific data entity have its own acronym, which is really nothing more than an alias or synonym, but the content of the data entity may have or be associated to many other acronyms.  For example:

                        • Project Name = “Strategic Infrastructure Rollout”
                        • Project Alias = “SIR”
                        • Project Sponsor Organization = “TAS” (...this is a short name for an Organization called “Technology & Application Services”)
                        • Project Description = “This project called SIR is intended to upgrade all corporate ADs, LDAPs, UNIX Servers, SMM, and Application Servers”

                        You’ll notice that the one Project data entity will be loaded with acronyms.  However, it’s probably inappropriate to put the project into a glossary or thesauras, since it would be decoupled static information that wouldn’t change if someone changed data in the Project Management system that actually acts as the original source of data.  To make things even more complicated, the Project acronym not only shows up in it’s alias attribute but also in its Description attribute.

                        So, the way we handle it is really not to manage acronyms, at all.  The best practice we follow is to ensure that “every” data entity that is important enough to an enterprise will have an associated naming “pair”... Sort of like a Long Name / Short Name concept.  We then tie search to all taxonomical data categories (Projects, Organizations, People, etc.) and ensure that search results come back with enumerated taxonomical categories that yield context to the search results.  This means that if you look up the string “SIR”, for example, you will get a result set that will look like:

                        • Organizations (3)
                        • People (10)
                        • Products (993)
                        • Projects (2)
                        • Risks (87)
                        • Terms (1)

                        You can then drill into the appropriate taxonomical context and get a structured list of results (2 Dimensional spreadsheet-like table that represents a list of that data type).  For example, I get the list above and realize that I care about that string in “Projects”.  I, therefore, drill into projects and have a list of two Projects to pick from.  I can browse the two and/or pick the one that I care about, ultimately getting to where I want, much faster.

                        To make it easier for our users, we’ve also allowed them to “scope” their search, so that they can look for the acronym “SIR” specifically against one data type, such as a “Term”, and immediately filter out all other data types.

                        To make it even more usable for our users, we’ve enabled advanced search to tie directly to the ontological specification of a data entity.  This allows a person running a search to ask the questions:

                        • I want all Projects whose “Project Alias” attribute is set to “SIR”... Or
                        • I want all Products where the string “SIR” is in the “Product Description” attribute... Or
                        • etc.

                        Our goal is not to manage acronyms but to allow users to ask questions, based on context, that allow them to quickly realize the knowledge they seek.

                        Where this doesn’t work too well is with the use of “raw/unstructured” content, such as in the body of a document.  The reason for this is that a file like a document has no structured meaning.  A document is simply a run-on stream of text.  The  best you can do in a case like this is what every search engine (Google, Yahoo, Fast, Lucene, etc.) all return, which is an abstract of the document. (Pretty useless when you’re dealing with large volumes of returned search results.)

                        Anyhow, I hope this helps.

                        My Best,

                        Frank





                        On 8/4/08 11:20 AM, "bren4444" <bdarrah@...> wrote:


                         

                        Hello all,

                        I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms. We include
                        many in our thesaurus, but they're also lurking about elsewhere in
                        other lists throughout the organization. This presents two problems:

                        1) We need to centralize the management of these lists into one list
                        for obvious reasons.

                        2) I'm wondering if it pays to keep them in our thesaurus. I'm trying
                        to follow the NISO Z39.19 standard, which is to use the acronym as a
                        preferred term only if it is more commonly used than the full term, but
                        what we're finding is that there's no consistency - about half of the
                        acronyms are preferred, half list the full term as preferred. Our
                        thesaurus team spends a lot of time trying to figure out if people use
                        the acronym or the full term more often. It just seems like it would
                        make more sense to have a separate list of acronyms.

                        Can anyone share how you handle acronyms? We have limited resources, so
                        we're not using high-end taxonomy management software and might not
                        have the capability to handle acronyms in the same way, but I'd at
                        least like to hear of good ways to do it.

                        TIA,

                        Brenda
                      • Jay Maechtlen
                        As a technical writer, I often encounter issues of terminology, of finding information, of storing and categorizing information, and so forth. Can anyone talk
                        Message 11 of 14 , Aug 9, 2008
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                          As a technical writer, I often encounter issues of terminology, of
                          finding information, of storing and categorizing information, and so forth.

                          Can anyone talk about connecting tech docs terminology with the
                          company/enterprise taxonomy?
                          I haven't seen it at any of my gigs so far, and some of them were pretty
                          good sized operations.

                          Also:
                          As the programs person for a local STC chapter, I'm always on the
                          lookout for a good topic/speaker/presentation.

                          I'm thinking that something like the above could be worthwhile.

                          Regards
                          Jay

                          --
                          Jay Maechtlen
                          Maechtlen & Associates
                          626 444-5112 office
                          626 840-8875 cell
                          www.laserpubs.com
                        • David Eddy
                          Brenda - ... Acronyms are indeed a challenge. As an exploratory exercise I built a tiny dictionary with 2,000 terms (I make no distinction between word,
                          Message 12 of 14 , Aug 9, 2008
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                            Brenda -


                            >
                            > I'm looking for some advice about how to handle acronyms.
                            >

                            Acronyms are indeed a challenge.

                            As an exploratory exercise I built a tiny "dictionary" with 2,000 "terms"
                            (I make no distinction between word, acronym, abbreviation,
                            initialism, etc.)... with 68,000 meanings.

                            My guess is that if I went to the bible for opaque terminology, the
                            definition count would be 2x or 3x greater. But that's just a guess.

                            I'm pondering my next action item.

                            - David
                          • David Eddy
                            Bernda - In my acronyms dictionary, cc was the volume winner, with 298 different (hopefully... I ve not bothered to look) meanings. - David
                            Message 13 of 14 , Aug 9, 2008
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Bernda -

                              In my acronyms dictionary, "cc" was the volume winner, with 298
                              different (hopefully... I've not bothered to look) meanings.

                              - David
                            • Seth Earley
                              We ve done this by creating an editorial and usage guide that goes along with taxonomy deliverables. Naming conventions within the narrative of technical
                              Message 14 of 14 , Aug 10, 2008
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                                We’ve done this by creating an editorial and usage guide that goes along with taxonomy deliverables.  Naming conventions within the narrative of technical writing should be consistent with metadata and organizing principles and consistent throughout the documentation.

                                 

                                In fact, certain parts of the organization found this to be the most valuable deliverable from the project (this was done for an e commerce site) because it was something that could be immediately implemented and socialized.  There were also more opportunities to apply a broader range of terms since content  management systems were somewhat limited in what could be surfaced to the user as either metadata or navigation.  (They had not integrated search with the taxonomy)

                                 

                                There was also a gap in editorial standards around term consistency so content authors appreciated this kind of reference.

                                 

                                When developing a taxonomy, it’s important to keep in mind the needs of various audiences:  data architects will understand taxonomy in the context of data models, content management specialists will understand content object models, search experts will appreciate thesaurus structures, librarians will want to see the representations of the full taxonomy, etc. Each group will ask “ok, what do I do with this?” 

                                 

                                If you give object models to authors they won’t know what to do with them.  Handing off a spreadsheet with 3000 terms with synonyms, related terms, translations and scope notes to technical team implementing a faceted search application will overwhelm them. 

                                 

                                Creating usage guidelines for technical writers is an excellent way to get traction for a taxonomy project.  It’s tangible, actionable and relatively easy to implement.

                                 

                                Seth

                                 

                                Seth Earley
                                President
                                _____________________________

                                EARLEY & ASSOCIATES, Inc.
                                Cell: 781-820-8080

                                Office: 781-444-0287
                                Email: seth@...
                                Web:
                                www.earley.com

                                 

                                From: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com [mailto:TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jay Maechtlen
                                Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 3:48 AM
                                To: TaxoCoP@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: [TaxoCoP] interfacing with tech pubs and tech writers

                                 

                                As a technical writer, I often encounter issues of terminology, of
                                finding information, of storing and categorizing information, and so forth.

                                Can anyone talk about connecting tech docs terminology with the
                                company/enterprise taxonomy?
                                I haven't seen it at any of my gigs so far, and some of them were pretty
                                good sized operations.

                                Also:
                                As the programs person for a local STC chapter, I'm always on the
                                lookout for a good topic/speaker/presentation.

                                I'm thinking that something like the above could be worthwhile.

                                Regards
                                Jay

                                --
                                Jay Maechtlen
                                Maechtlen & Associates
                                626 444-5112 office
                                626 840-8875 cell
                                www.laserpubs.com

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