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I'm a contributor to a project that presents municipal legislation to the public. I have been reading about the Popolo project http://popoloproject.com/ and other data specifications for legislation information, and I can't quite figure out the use cases.

Using a schema.org standard would makes a lot of sense for us, because it would immediately help users figure out which search results are relevant to them, but none of these relevant open-data standards are on schema.org yet.

If we got more in the business of republishing the data through an API, then I can also see the benefit of using a data spec.

Is there some other use case for marking up our web pages with a data standard that would provide some significant benefit in the short term?

  • What does "scale" have to do with it? Are you too big? Too small? – James McKinney Jul 17 '13 at 0:47
  • Are you concerned that if the standard is not from schema.org, that no tools will be able to parse the content? Many subject-specific data standards are not part of schema.org, but have active communities and thus add immediate value. Are you just looking for an example of such? – cboettig Jul 17 '13 at 0:47
  • Edited vague section on scale. – fgregg Jul 17 '13 at 4:44
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Schema.org is an ontology ("data standard") specifically for marking up HTML so that search engines can more easily extract structured data from otherwise unstructured data. Schema.org is very popular for marking up products (reusing the GoodRelations vocabulary), articles (reusing the rNews vocabulary), reviews, etc. If all you care about is search engines, then Schema.org is the only vocabulary you need to care about.

However, HTML is just one way to share information. As you mention, you can provide an API or bulk downloads. Popolo (I'm its editor) is currently targeting those channels. If you're curious about why standards matter in those contexts, I can provide a longer answer.

That said, even if you only use Schema.org in your HTML, you'll be offering partial support for Popolo, because Popolo reuses terms from Schema.org. It also uses terms from predecessors of Schema.org that Schema.org subsequently adopted. For example, Popolo's Person class has significant overlap to Schema.org's.

As for adding Popolo terms to Schema.org, that's definitely a possibility. For example, I think it would make a lot of sense to add the dissolutionDate property from Popolo to Schema.org's Organization class, so that companies can dissolve like in real life.

Last point: unless you plan to share data with other developers through HTML, as far as I know, there's not much to gain from using vocabularies besides Schema.org in your HTML. If you want to share data with other developers, you should offer bulk downloads or an API, instead of requiring people to parse your HTML (even if that HTML has beautiful semantic markup).

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