Collaborative Ontology Development

Financial support:

German Research Foundation (DFG)


Feb 01, 2015 — Jan 31, 2018

The Wikipedia project showed that community-based knowledge-generation can produce and maintain a knowledge-base of high quality. While Wikipedia is human-readable, the WikiData project aims at building a machine-readable knowledge representation, which can be interpreted as an ontology. These ontologies can be thought of a backbone of the semantic web - a machine-readable world wide web.

Similar to Wikipedia, a community formed around WikiData. Although we know, that the community established working guidelines and different methods for generating content, we still have very limited knowledge about how people collaborate in the project. Furthermore, we don't know the inner working of the community  (the social structure) might influence the structure of the generated data (the technical structure). We shed light on the question whether such social-semantic congruence exists and if yes, to what extent. 

We will replicate our results on other communities that collaboratively create ontologies, such as many Semantic MediaWiki. Based on our insights we plan to highlight how existing methods, tools and evaluation approaches for collaborative ontology development can be improved or extended.


Prof. Dr. Markus Strohmaier (Gesis)

Further information


  • C. Müller-Birn, B. Karran, J. Lehmann, and M. Luczak-Rösch. Peer-production system or collaborative ontology development effort: what is Wikidata? In, OpenSym 2015 - Conference on Open Collaboration, San Francisco, US, 19 - 21 Aug 2015.
  • C. Müller-Birn, M. Cataldo, P. Wagstrom, and J. Herbsleb. Success in online production systems: A longitudinal analysis of the socio- technical duality of development projects. Technical Report CMU-ISR-10-129, Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science, 2010a.
  • C. Müller-Birn, B. Meuthrath, A. Erber, S. Burkhart, A. Baumgrass, J. Lehmann, and R. Schmidl. Seeing similarity in the face of difference: enabling comparison of online production systems. Social Network Analysis and Mining, pages 1–16, 2010b.
  • J. Pöschko, M. Strohmaier, T. Tudorache, and M. A. Musen. Pragmatic analysis of crowdbased knowledge production systems with iCAT Analytics: Visualizing changes to the ICD- 11 ontology. In Proceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium 2012: Wisdom of the Crowd, 2012. Accepted for publication.
  • M. Strohmaier, S. Walk, J. Poeschko, D. Lamprecht, T. Tudorache, C. Nyulas, M. Musen, and N. Noy. How ontologies are made: Evaluation of the hidden social dynamics behind collaborative ontology engineering projects. Journal of Web Semantics, 2012.