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Terms are words or phrases that act as labels for formally defined concepts. "MRI" is a medical term; "Habeas corpus" is a legal term; and so on. Any time a group of experts invents, innovates or standardizes, they need a terminology as a tool for themselves, and a corresponding glossary (one of their work products) that helps them communicate about their work. Usually, the group will typically seek to use terms that have already defined in specifications, standards, dictionaries, or glossaries that already exist. However, they will also typically need to define an additional set terms specific to their group. Several TOIP working groups (WGs) and task forces (TFs) have already expressed this need.

One of the objectives of the ToIP Concepts and Terminology Working Group (CTWG) is to provide ToIP WGs and TFs with:

  • A cheap and easy way to define and curate the terms they need as a group, with minimal setup and learning curve.
  • The ability to formally release versioned glossaries that show how terms are related, provide attribution to sources, and cross-reference terms to increase comprehension and accessibility of the group's work. Glossaries will include terms that the group needs, both terms defined by the group itself, or elsewhere.

To meet this need, the CTWG is introducing terms wikis. Terms wikis are simple GitHub-based websites that allow collaborative editing in a browser. They meet the "easy and cheap" criteria while allowing some sophisticated features under the hood. Think Google Docs, but with slightly more structure – or Wikipedia, but a whole lot simpler. You can learn how to use them in 5 minutes.

A terms wiki is owned by a community of interest or a community of practice (a terms community) that needs precise alignment about its mental models and the words that describe them (a terminology). In ToIP, a terms community typically corresponds to a Working Group or a Task Force. However our goal is for terms wiki tooling to be usable by groups outside of ToIP who also wish to join our overall terminology community. In some cases a single terms community might have several subgroups or projects which each need their own terminology and thus their own terms wikis. That's fine too.

Whenever a terminology is internally cohesive and managed by a crisply delineated set of stakeholders, we call the context in which it lives a scope. Every scope needs a glossary that lists the set of terms pertinent to that scope (i.e. its terminology), as well as its own terms wiki that contains the definitions of the terms that are specific to this scope. The following diagram illustrates the relationship between terms wikis and glossaries based on them.

How to use a terms wiki

  1. Contact the CTWG on slack at #concepts-and-terminology-wg to get a terms wiki for your group. (If your group is not within TOIP, that's fine; see these instructions instead.)
  2. Understand how your terms wiki is structured.
  3. Add a new term and its definition by clicking the green "New Page" button, editing content in markdown, and clicking the green "Save Changes" button when done.
  4. Edit a term or its definition by browsing to its page and clicking the green "Edit" button. (Again, "Save Changes" when done).
  5. Learn about how to work with hyperlinks.
  6. Ask the CTWG on slack at #concepts-and-terminology-wg to help you setup an export of your data to a glossary.
  7. Understanding the template for a glossary wiki page. <== THIS PAGE TO BE DEVELOPED BY CTWG VOLUNTEERS
  8. How your glossary wiki works with the CTWG ToIP Term tool. <== THIS PAGE TO BE DEVELOPED BY CTWG VOLUNTEERS
  9. <insert additional glossary wiki documentation pages here>

Registry of Terms Wikis (and Glossaries)

The CTWG doesn't control or approve terms wikis. However, we do attempt to track them, as a general service to the public. If you have a terms wiki to add, please let us know. Here are terms wikis (and glossaries) we know about:

Tag and LinkCommunityDescriptionMonth StartedGlossary Links
#ctwgConcepts and Terminology Working Group (CTWG)Terminology for the CTWG tools, terms wiki design, curation, and our own documentation. May 2021
#toip-generalthe greater TOIP ecosystemterms used throughout TOIP contextsMay 2021
#essiflabeSSIF LabTerminology and mental models that have been developed in the EU eSSIF-Lab project.May 2021provisional
#ghpToIP Interoperability Working Group
for Good Health Pass
Global interoperability of health certificates
and travel passes with a focus on COVID-19 
April 20211.0
#sovrinSovrin FoundationGovernance and operation of the Sovrin Foundation
and Sovrin ledger
January 20173
#yoma-gfYoma Governance Framework WG
July 2021

Why A Wiki?

This definition of a wiki is from the best known wiki in the world, Wikipedia:

A wiki (/ˈwɪki/ (About this soundlisten) WIK-ee) is a hypertext publication collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience directly using a web browser. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects or scope of the project and could be either open to the public or limited to use within an organization for maintaining its internal knowledge base.

The basic idea of a terminology wiki is simply a wiki in which a set of terms is being defined by a specific (project of a) community of interest or a community of practice (scope), for its own purposes. This terminology will typically be made available through a glossary for that community.

Why GitHub Wikis?

There are several reasons the CTWG chose GitHub to host our glossary wiki capability:

  1. GitHub is the standard back-end repository system used by Linux Foundation projects (of which the ToIP Foundation is one).
  2. GitHub has a built-in wiki capability called using GitHub wikis that can be turned on for any GitHub repo.
  3. A GitHub repo—and its inherent access control capabilities—provides a standard, widely accessible open source tool for each glossary community to manage its own glossary wiki.
  4. A GitHub wiki is stored in Markdown documents in GitHub just like all other GitHub documentation and can be accessed and managed programmatically via the GitHub APIs.
  5. The CTWG is developing tooling, called the ToIP Term tool—that will be able to automatically ingest the contents of glossary wikis that follow the CTWG glossary wiki guidelines into a shared terminology corpus. This is where the CTWG and the participating glossary communities can add value by mapping terms and concepts across different glossary communities in order to increase the overall communication value of the terms to everyone.

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