Developing professional standards with SMW

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SMWCon Fall 2013Developing professional standards with SMW
SMWCon Fall 2013
Developing professional standards with SMW
Talk details
Description: A professional standard is a document that describes the skills and responsibilities relating to a professional's position. In this talk we describe how a community can collaboratively write a professional standard using Semantic MediaWiki.
Speaker(s): Yury Katkov
Slides: see here
Type: Talk
Audience: Everyone
Event start: 2013/10/29 02:00:00 PM
Event finish: 2013/10/29 02:30:00 PM
Length: 30 minutes
Video: click here
Keywords: professional standards, crowdsourcing, groupsourcing, documents, microsoft word, ranking, voting, subobjects
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Standards of professional activity are documents that describe skills, knowledge and responsibilities relating to a professional's position. They are used in many areas and for many purposes: for hiring, creating curriculums at universities, certification programs, etc.

Previously the standards were made by a small group of experts offline. Back then they sent the text of the standard to the professional communities for approval. Obviously this way the process was very slow and there were not many opportunities for professional communities to have an influence on how the standard should look like. Thus we have proposed a new, more crowdsourcing-like way of editing professional standards that relies on Semantic MediaWiki's great ability to structure the data involved.

In the talk I will describe:

  1. how professional standards are structured and what methodology is used to write them
  2. how to organize the community for efficient standard editing
  3. how semantic extensions helped us to implement the structure of the standard
  4. how we've used ranking and voting to support the process of editing

How the data is organized

Working functions

Working function.png

The standard consist of dozens of working functions. Working function consists of:

  • actions that the worker need to do, e.g. fixing the cars
  • knowledge and background that the worker needs to do the actions, e.g. know how the car engine and breaks are organized
  • skills that the worker needs to do the actions, e.g. how to use use a screwdriver and a wrench
  • professionally important qualities for this type of job, e.g. accuracy, attention to the details

Classification of working functions

Working functions are organized in two-dimensional structure. The first dimension is qualification level, and the second dimension is activity category of the function.

what is working function

The more qualification level is - the more responsibility the worker has and the higher position he can occupy in organization. For example 4th level Manager is responsible for 'here and now operations' and can be a boss of relatively small number of employees. The possible position for 4th level Manager in software company is team leader. In building he can be called foreman or brigade leader.


How Semantic MediaWiki have been used

It was hard to represent the matrix structure in SMW and at the same time untie the working functions from the classification framework. With the help of format=template we managed to create the following table:

the matrix of profstand

Every row in this table is a category of work that a worker performs. Every column is a level of the worker. The intersections are the candidates for working functions described above.

For the project we've used subobjects quite extensively. It had its benefits but the queries became very complex.

Nevertheless the structure of the project is quite good and allows modifictions. Here Page Schemas were very useful: they allow you to generate the templates, forms and properties automatically and change them easily. In fact we were so excited about Page Schemas that even create a screencast on them:


We've developed the voting tool that allows users to collaboratively decide what the worker should and shouldn't do. Each cell of a table is clickable and shows the list of candidates for the working functions

Standard wikivote voting.png


In addition to voting we've developed the tools for users feedback. We've create a tool that allows users to rate the articles on various criteria. First we've used mw:Extension:Article Feedback extensions developed by Wikimedia foundation:


But we've soon discoved that Article Feedback is not nearly as powerful as we need. So we've created the new rating tool that allow administrator to create various kins of rating criteria for different categories. The results of the ratings are accessible with semantic queries and that allows us to use them for sorting.

WikiVote rating.png

Microsoft word document generation

We've developed the extension that generated *.docx file with final version of the standard. The extension queries all working functions and chooses the leaders of the rankings.

Use case: the professinal standard of a manager

The pilot project was to develop the professional standard of the manager. Part of the development process have been done offline, only 30% of working functions have been proposed online in the wiki.

Lessons learned

During the project we've learnt how important it is to figure out the processes of article editing, ranking and voting. The developed system have shown its usefullness but became too heavy and we're now in process of cutting off the features.