Shared names steering committee

[For further information see Shared names]


  • Committee vets servers, manages domain name configurations
  • Conduct business in public where possible
  • Consensus - make it difficult, but not impossible, to make non-unanimous decisions
  • Progress cannot be inhibited just because some member stops participating
  • Require public review for unanimity override and amendment of purpose statement and process guidelines


Purpose and scope

The Shared Names steering committee ("committee") is created in order to promote broad community agreement on the choice and behavior of URIs to use in RDF, OWL, and other contexts where URIs are used as names. The scope of this work shall initially be stable URIs for public life sciences database records, but it may be expanded at the committee's discretion.

Process guidelines


The committee may establish control of the configuration of one or more domain names, either by owning the domain name(s) or by entering into agreements with cooperating domain name holders (who may be committee members).

The domain names are to be used in composing names (URIs) and specifying their meaning and behavior, according to a system designed or approved by the committee.


The committee exists in order to make sure that its URIs have value to those who use them - in particular, that they resolve to information that is useful.

The committee shall make an ongoing effort to address URI-based naming problems falling within its decided scope.

The committee shall be responsible for naming all entities within its scope and, in particular, providing new names in a timely manner upon request of the user community or a committee member.

The committee is expected to recruit, or select, servers whose IP addresses are to be added to the DNS configurations for the controlled domains.

Servers shall be chosen (or commissioned) in order to support agreed-upon protocol behavior of those names, including the provision of redirects and other information.

The committee shall make an effort to recruit new members representative of the community of users of its URIs, so that the committee always contains people who care about the URIs.

The committee shall record its decisions in a public forum, whenever it is not inhibited from doing so by legal or ethical concerns.


There are no particular qualification for membership. Members might include individuals involved in data or publishing projects that would use the shared names, general promoters of shared names, or experts who can make substantial contributions based on their technical experience.

It is expected that committee members will support the committee's work by using and otherwise promoting the shared URIs in any projects with which they're involved or that they advise.

The committee determines how new members are to be added to the committee, and how members are to leave or be removed from the committee.

Members are expected to be individuals, with exceptions as granted under special circumstances.

Good standing

Members must maintain good standing in order to participate. The committee shall set good standing requirements from time to time. These may include, but are not limited to

  1. timely response to surveys for consensus
  2. active participation in the committee's work
  3. adherence to agreed rules of good conduct

Conduct of business

(As a point of comparison, please see W3C consensus process)

The committee will endeavor to reach decisions by consensus. Where unanimity is reached (all members in good standing weighing in with yes, concur, or abstain) within some reasonable time period, decisions may be made via any medium at any time, with or without a meeting or chair. Where there is disagreement, the following procedure may be used on anyone's initiation:

  1. The conflicting positions are stated in the public forum
  2. Public discussion is solicited
  3. After a reasonable period of time the chair may call a vote, choosing a venue (email, telecon, face to face)
  4. On obtaining agreement from two-thirds of members in good standing the matter is decided

The committee will determine rules for selecting a chair.

The committee will determine rules and responsibilities for convening and recording the outcome of meetings.

The committee will determine reasonable periods of time for surveys for consensus and public discussion.


The chair calls for consensus, and recognizes it when it happens. The chair is responsible for making sure agreed-on process is followed.

The committee may ask some individuals to hold passwords necessary for domain name configuration, and to be responsible for making changes at the direction of the committee.


These by-laws may be changed as follows:

  1. The committee decides to propose a change
  2. The proposed change is announced publicly
  3. After a period for public discussion, the committee decides to confirm the change (see conduct of business)


In the event the committee decides to dissolve, or dissolves by default, all passwords, rights, and responsibilities related to control of the domain names will be offered, as a unit, to the following organizations and/or individuals, in sequence: WE HAVE NOT DISCUSSED THIS YET. I HAVE NAMED A FEW ORGANIZATIONS HERE ONLY AS A STARTING POINT FOR DISCUSSION.

  1. EBI
  2. W3C
  3. Crossref
  4. NCBI
  5. ISCB

Situations entailing dissolution "by default" include no members in good standing, persistent failure of the committee to carry out its responsibilities, and persistent technical failure of URI resolution for URIs under the committee's care.

Initial conditions

The initial members of the steering committee will be:

  1. David de Roure, myExperiment
  2. Carole Goble, Taverna
  3. Vladimir Mironov, Biogateway
  4. Marc-Alexandre Nolin, bio2rdf
  5. Jonathan Rees, Science Commons
  6. Alan Ruttenberg, OBO Foundry
  7. Trish Whetzel, NCBO
  8. Mark Wilkinson, BioMoby/SADI

(Affiliations are given for informational purposes only. Steering committee members belong as individuals, not as representatives.)

[For current list see Shared names]