Open policy ontology

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The open policy ontology describes the information structures that are needed to document shared understanding of a complex decision situation.


What information structures and information tools are needed to document shared understanding in such a way that

  • it can be operationalised and managed and used for automatic inferences by a computer,
  • it can systematically organise information objects used in open assessment, such as variables and statements,
  • it can represent each participant's views systematically as a part of the whole even if people disagree,
  • it is intuitive enough to be used by non-experts?


An example of shared understanding related to bioaccumulation of dioxin in Baltic fish. The description contains decisions and objectives, as well as causal connections of relevant phonomena.
Open policy ontology described as a network.

Shared understanding aims at producing a description of different views, opinions, and facts related to a specific topic such as a decision process. The open policy ontology describes the information structures that are needed to document shared understanding of a complex decision situation. The purpose of the structure is to help people identify hidden premises, beliefs, and values and explicate possible discrepancies. This is expected to produce better understanding among participants.

The basic structure of a shared understanding is a network of items and relations between them. This network uses Resource description framework, which is an ontology standard used to describe many Internet contents. Items and relations (aka properties) are collectively called things. Each item is typically of one of the types mentioned below. This information is documented using property instance of (e.g. Goherr assessment is instance of assessment).

Items are written descriptions of the actual things (people, tasks, publications, or phenomena), and on this page we discuss these descriptions rather than the real things. Different item types have different levels of standardisation and internal structure. For example, knowledge crystals are web pages that always have headings question, answer and rationale, and the information is organised under those headings. Some other items describe e.g. statements that are free-text descriptions about how a particular thing is or should be (according to a participant), and yet some others are metadata about publications. A common feature is that all items contain information that is relevant for a decision.

In the open policy ontology, each item may have lengthy texts, graphs, analyses or even models inside them. However, the focus here is on how the items are related to each other. The actual content is often referred to as one key sentence only (description). Each item also has a unique identifier URI that is used for automatic handling of data. Voting age is an example discussion and shows a structured description in table format.

The most important items are knowledge crystals and they are described here.

  • Assessment describes a particular decision situation and focuses on estimating impacts of different options. Its purpose is to support the making of that decision. Unlike other knowledge crystals, assessments typically have a defined start and end dates and they are closed after the decision is made. They also have contextually and situationally defined goals`to be able to better serve the needs of the decision makers of the decision.
  • Variable answers a particular factual or ethical question that is typically needed in one or more assessments. The answer of a variable is continually updated as new information arises, but its question remains constant in time. Variable is the basic building block of describing reality, i.e. how things are or should be. In R, variables are typically implemented using ovariable objects from OpasnetUtils package.
  • Method tells how to systematically implement a particular information task. Method is the basic building block for describing the assessment work (not reality, like variables). In practice, methods are "how-to-do" descriptions about how information should be produced, collected, analysed, or synthesised in an assessment. Typically, methods contain a software code or another algorithm to actually perform the method easily. In R, methods are typically ovariables that require some context-specific upstream information about dependencies before it can be calculated.

There are also other important classes of items:

  • Publication is any documentation that contains useful information related to a decision. Publications that are commonly used in Opasnet include encyclopedia article, lecture, nugget, and study. Other publications in Opasnet are typically uploaded as files.
    • Encyclopedia article is an object that describes a topic rather than answers a specific research question. They do not have a predefined attribute structure.
    • Lecture: Lecture contains a piece of information that is to be mediated to a defined audience and with a defined learning objective. It can also be description of a process during which the audience learns, instead of being a passive recipient of information.
    • Nugget is an object that is not editable by other people than a dedicated author (group) and is not expected to be updated once finalised. They do not have a predefined attribute structure.
    • Study describes a research study and its answers, i.e. observational or other data obtained in the study. The research questions are described as the question of the information object, and the study methods are described as the rationale of the object. Unlike in an article, discussion may be missing, and unlike in a variable, the answer and rationale of the study are more or less fixed after the work is done; this is because the interpretations of the results typically happen elsewhere, like in variables for which the study contains useful information.
  • Discussion is a hierarchically structured documentation of a discussion about a defined statement or statements.
  • Stakeholder page is used to describe a person or group that is relevant for a decision or decision process; they may be an actor that has an active role in decision making or is a target of impacts. Contributors in Opasnet are described on their own user pages; other stakeholders may have their page on the main namespace.
  • Process describes elements of a decision process.
  • Action describes what, who and when should act to e.g. perform an assessment, make a decision, or implement policies.

Relations show different kinds of connections between items.

  • Causal link tells that the subject may change the object (e.g. affects, increases, decreases, prevents).
  • Participatory link describes a stakeholder's particular role related to the object (participates, negotiates, decides).
  • Operational link tells that the subject has some kind of practical relation to the object (executes, offers, tells).
  • Evaluative link tells that the subject shows preference or relevance about the object (has truthlikeness, value, popularity, finds important).
  • Referential link tells that the subject is used as a reference of a kind for the object (makes relevant; associates to; has reference, tag, category).
  • Argumentative link occurs between statements that defend or attack each other (attack, defend, comment).
  • Property link connects an evaluative (acceptability, usability), a logical (opposite, inverse) or set theory (has subclass, has part) property to the subject.


Item types

This ontology is specifically about decision making, and therefore actions (and decisions to act) are handled explicitly. However, any natural, social, ethical or other phenomena may relate to a decision and therefore the vocabulary has to be very generic.

Item types(-)
ObsItemRelationEnglish nameFinnish nameDescription
1resourcehas subclassitemasiaAll items and relations are resources. Items are relevant pieces of information related policy making. Sometimes also refers to the real-life things that the information is about. Items are shown as nodes in insight networks.
2resourcehas subclassrelationrelaatioInformation about how items are connected to each other. Relations are shown as edges in insight networks.
3itemhas subclasssubstanceilmiöItems about a substantive topic or phenomenon itself: What issues relate to a decision? What causal connections exist between issues? What scientific knowledge exist about the issues? What actions can be chosen? What are the impacts of these actions? What are the objectives and how can they be reached? What values and preferences exist?
4itemhas subclassstakeholdersidosryhmäItems about people or organisations who have a particular role in a policy process, either as actors or targets of impacts: Who participates in a policy process? Who should participate? Who has necessary skills for contributing? Who has the authority to decide? Who is affected by a decision?
5itemhas subclassprocessprosessiItems about doing or happening in relation with a topic, especially information about how a decision will be made): What will be decided? When will it be decided? How is the decision prepared? What political realities and restrictions exist?
6itemhas subclassactiontoimintaItems about organising decision support, decision making, implementation, and evaluation: What tasks are needed to collect and organise necessary information? When do these tasks need to be done? Who is responsible of what? How is information work organised? Tasks are also important afterwards to distribute merit and evaluate the process: Who did what? How did information evolve? Where did data come from?
7itemhas subclassinformation objecttieto-olioA specified structure containing information about substance, stakeholders, processes, methods, or actions.
8information objecthas subclassknowledge crystaltietokideinformation object with a standardised structure and contribution rules
9knowledge crystalhas subclassassessmentarviointiDescribes a decision situation and typically provides relevant information to decision makers before the decision is made (or sometimes after the decision about its implementation or success). It is mostly about the knowledge work, i.e. tasks for decision support.
10knowledge crystalhas subclassvariablemuuttujaDescribes a real-world topic that is relevant for the decision situation. It is about the substance of the topic.
11knowledge crystalhas subclassmethodmetodiDescribes how information should be managed or analysed so that it will answer the policy-relevant questions asked. How to perform information work? What methods are available for a task? How to participate in a decision process? How to use statistical and other methods and tools? How to motivate participation? How to measure merit of contributions?
12information objecthas subclassdiscussionkeskusteluDiscussion, or structured argumentation, describes arguments about a particular statement and a synthesis about an acceptable statement. In a way, discussion is (a documentation of) a process of analysing the validity of a statement.
13discussionhas subclassfact discussionfaktakeskusteluDiscussion that can be resolved based on scientific knowledge.
14discussionhas subclassvalue discussionarvokeskusteluDiscussion that can be resolved based on ethical knowledge.
15discussionhas partstatementväiteProposition claiming that something is true or ethically good. A statement may be developed in a discussion by adding and organising related argumentation (according to pragma-dialectics), or by organising premises and inference rules (according to Perelman).
16statementhas subclassvalue statementarvoväiteProposition claiming that something is ethically good, better than something else, prioritised over something, or how things should be.
17statementhas subclassfact statementfaktaväiteProposition claiming how things are or that something is true.
18value statementhas subclasstrue value statementtosi arvoväiteA statement that has not been successfully invalidated.
19value statementhas subclassfalse value statementepätosi arvoväiteA statement that has been successfully invalidated.
20fact statementhas subclasstrue fact statementtosi faktaväite
21fact statementhas subclassfalse fact statementepätosi faktaväite
22statementhas subclasstrue statementtosi väite
23statementhas subclassfalse statementepätosi väite
24statementhas subclassopening statementavausväiteA statement that is the basis for a structured discussion, a priori statement.
25statementhas subclassclosing statementlopetusväiteA statement that is the resolution of a structured discussion, a posteriori statement. Closing statement becomes an opening statement when the discussion is opened again.
26opening statementhas subclassfact opening statementavausfaktaväite
27closing statementhas subclassfact closing statementlopetusfaktaväite
28opening statementhas subclassvalue opening statementavausarvoväite
29closing statementhas subclassvalue closing stetementlopetusarvoväite
30discussionhas partargumentargumenttiA statement that has also contains a relation to its target as an integral part. Due to this relation, arguments appear inside discussions and target directly or indirectly the opening statement.
31discussionhas partargumentationväittelyHierarchical list of arguments related to a particular statement.
32knowledge crystalhas partquestionkysymysA research question asked in a knowledge crystal. The purpose of a knowledge crystal is to answer the question.
33knowledge crystalhas partanswervastausAn answer or set of answers to the question of a knowledge crystal, based on any relevant information and inference rules.
34knowledge crystalhas partrationaleperustelutAny data, discussions, calculations or other information needed to convince a critical rational reader that the answer of a knowledge crystal is good.
35answerhas partresulttulosThe actual, often numerical result to the question, conditional on relevant indices.
36answerhas partindexindeksiA list of possible values for a descriptor. Typically used in describing the result of an ovariable.
37knowledge crystalhas partovariableovariableA practical implementation of a knowledge crystal in modelling code. Ovariable takes in relevant information about data and dependencies and calculates the result. Typically implemented in R using OpasnetUtils package and ovariable object type.
38ovariablehas subclasskey ovariableavainovariableAn ovariable that is shown on an insight network even if some parts are hidden due to practical reasons.
39information objecthas subclasspublicationjulkaisuAny published report, book, web page or similar permanent piece of information that can be unambiguously referenced.
40publicationhas subclassnuggettiedomuruAn object that is not editable by other people than a dedicated author (group).
41substancehas subclasstopicaiheA description of an area of interest. It defines boundaries of a content rather than defines the content itself, which is done by statements. When the information structure is improved, a topic often develops into a question of a knowledge cryatal, while a statement develops into an answer of a variable.
42priorityhas subclassobjectivetavoiteA desired outcome of a decision. In shared understanding description, it is a topic (or variable) that has value statements attached to it.
43substancehas subclassrisk factorriskitekijä
44substancehas subclassindicatorindikaattoriPiece of information that describes a particular substantive item in a practical and often standard way.
45indicatorhas subclassrisk indicatorriski-indikaattoriIndicator about (health) risk or outcome
46information objecthas subclassdatatietoaineisto
47information objecthas subclassgraphkuvaajaGraphical representation of a piece of information. Typically is related to an information object with ''describes'' relation.
48workhas subclassdata worktietotyö
49workhas subclassdata usetiedon käyttö
50substancehas subclasspriorityprioriteetti
51substancehas subclassexpensekustannus
52substancehas subclasshealth impactterveysvaikutus
53stakeholderhas subclassdecision makerpäättäjä
54stakeholderhas subclasspublic officervirkamies
55stakeholderhas subclassassessorarvioija
56stakeholderhas subclassexpertasiantuntija
57stakeholderhas subclasscitizenkansalainen
58stakeholderhas subclassagenttoimija
59actionhas subclasstasktoimenpideaction to be taken when the option has been selected
60actionhas subclassdecisionpäätösaction to be taken when the option is yet to be selected. Describes a particular event where a decision maker chooses among defined alternatives. This may also be a part of an assessment under heading Decisions and scenarios.
61actionhas subclassworktyöcontinuous actions of the same kind and typically independent of the decision at hand. If the decision changes work routines, the action to make this change happen is called task.
62workhas subclasspreventionennaltaehkäisytrying to prevent something
63workhas subclasstreatmenthoitotrying to fix something when something has already happened
64workhas subclasssupporttukiwork that aids in the completion of the selected option, in whatever way
65taskhas subclasstask 1toimenpide 1Numbering is used to differentiate different sources of tasks in insight networks, e.g. tasks that come from different policies.
66taskhas subclasstask 2toimenpide 2
67taskhas subclasstask 3toimenpide 3
68taskhas subclasstask 4toimenpide 4
69taskhas subclasstask 5toimenpide 5
70methodhas subclassopen policy practiceavoin päätöksentekokäytäntöframework for planning, making, and implementing decisions
71methodhas subclassopen assessmentavoin arviointimethod answering this question: How can factual and value information be organised for supporting societal decision making when open participation is allowed?
72methodhas subclassanalysisanalyysi
73methodhas subclassreportingraportointi
74methodhas subclassmeasurementmittaus
75publicationhas subclassstudytutkimus
76publicationhas subclassencyclopedia articleensyklopedia-artikkeliAn object that describes a topic rather than answers a specific research question.
77publicationhas subclasslectureluentoContains a piece of information that is to be mediated to a defined audience and with a defined learning objective.
78methodhas subclassproceduretoimintamalli
79methodhas subclassprincipleperiaatea short generic guidance for information work to ensure that the work is done properly. They especially apply to the execution phase.
80principlehas subclassintentionalitytavoitteellisuusThe decision maker explicates their objectives and decision options under consideration. All that is done aims to offer better understanding about impacts of the decision related to the objectives of the decision maker. Thus, the participation of the decision maker in the decision support process is crucial.
81principlehas subclasscausalitysyysuhteiden kuvausThe focus is on understanding and describing the causal relations between the decision options and the intended outcomes. The aim is to predict what impacts will likely occur if a particular decision option is chosen.
82principlehas subclasscriticismkritiikkiAll information presented can be criticised based on relevance and accordance to observations. The aim is to reject ideas, hypotheses -- and ultimately decision options -- that do not hold against critique. Criticism has a central role in the scientific method, and here we apply it in practical situations, because rejecting poor statements is much easier and more efficient than trying to prove statements true.
83principlehas subclasspermanent resource locationskohteellisuusInformation is organised around topics (described as research questions), and each topic has a permanent location where it can be found even if the content develops in time. In practice, these locations are webpages with permanent URLs.
84principlehas subclassopennessavoimuusAll work and all information is openly available to anyone interested for reading and contributing all the time. If there are exceptions, these must be publicly justified. Openness is crucial because a priori it is impossible to know who may have important factual information or value judgements about the topic.
85principlehas subclassreuseuusiokäyttöAll information is produced in a format that can easily be used for other purposes by other people. Open data principles are used when possible. For example, some formats such as PDF files are not easily reusable.
86principlehas subclassuse of knowledge crystalstietokiteiden käyttöAll information is openly shared using a systematic structure (notably question, answer, and rationale) and permanent locations in a common workspace where all participants can work. Knowledge crystals are used for this. The structure of an assessment and its data is based on substance (i.e. causal, logical and other substantive connections between issues). Objectives determine the information needs, which are then used to define research questions to be answered in the assessment. The assessment work is collaboration aiming to answer these questions in a way that holds against critique. Thus, knowledge crystals are practical information structures that comply with other principles of open assessment.
87principlehas subclassgroupingryhmäytyminenFacilitation methods are used to promote the participants' feeling of being an important member of a group that has a meaningful purpose.
88principlehas subclassrespectarvostusContributions are systematically documented and their merit evaluated so that each participant receives the respect they deserve based on their contributions.
89objectivehas subclassexpense objectivekustannustavoite
90processhas subclassstepjaksoone of sequential time intervals when a particular kind of work is done. In the next step, the nature of the work changes.
91stephas subclassdecision supportvalmisteluthe first step in a decision process. Helps in collecting necessary information for making a decision.
92stephas subclassdecision makingpäätöksentekothe second step in a decision process. When the decision makes actually chooses between options.
93stephas subclassimplementationtoimeenpanothe third step in a decision process. When the chosen option is put in action.
94processhas subclassphasevaiheone part of a decision work process where focus is on particular issues or methods. Typically phases overlap temporally.
95phasehas subclassshared understandingjaettu ymmärrysdocumenting of all relevant views, facts, values, and opinions about a decision situation in such a way that agreements and disagreements can be understood
96phasehas subclassexecutiontoteutusproduction of necessary information for a decision at hand
97phasehas subclassevaluation and managementseuranta ja ohjausensuring that all work related to a decision will be, is, and has been done properly
98phasehas subclassco-creation and facilitationyhteenvetämisen taitohelping people to participate, contribute, and become motivated about the decision work

Relation types

Relation types(-)
ObsClassEnglish nameFinnish nameEnglish inverseFinnish inverseDescription
1relationparticipatory linkosallisuuslinkkiThe subject is a stakeholder that has a particular role related to an object
2relationoperational linktoimintolinkkiThe subject has some kind of practical relation to the object (a fairly wide class)
3relationevaluative linkarvostuslinkkiThe subject shows preference of relevance about the object
4relationreferential linkviitelinkkiThe subject is used as a reference of a kind for the object
5relationargumentative linkargumentaatiolinkkiThe subject is used as an argument to criticise the object.
6relationcausal linksyylinkkiThe subject has causal effect on the object (or vice versa in the case of an inverse relation)
7relationproperty linkominaisuuslinkkiThe object describes a defined property of the subject.
8causal linknegative causal linknegatiivinen syylinkkiThe subject reduces or diminishes the object.
9causal linkpositive causal linkpositiivinen syylinkkiThe subject increases or enhances the object.
10negative causal linkdecreasesvähentääis decreased byvähentyyVAI: VÄHENTÄJÄNÄ, LISÄÄJÄNÄ JNE?
11positive causal linkincreaseslisääis increased bylisääntyy
12negative causal linkworsenshuonontaais worsened byhuonontuu
13positive causal linkimprovesparantaais improved byparantuu
14negative causal linkpreventsestääis prevented byestyy
15positive causal linkenhancesedistääis enhanced byedistyy
16negative causal linkimpairsheikentääis impaired byheikentyy
17positive causal linksustainsylläpitääis sustained byylläpitäytyy
18causal linkaffectsvaikuttaais affected byvaikuttuu
19causal linkindirectly affectsvaikuttaa epäsuorastiindirectly affected byvaikuttuu epäsuorasti
20causal linkcause ofsyycaused byjohtuuWikidata property P1542
21causal linkimmediate cause ofvälitön syyimmediately caused byjohtuu välittömästiWikidata property P1536
22causal linkcontributing factor ofvaikuttava tekijäWikidata property P1537
23participatory linkperformstoteuttaaperformertoteuttajanawho does a task?
24participatory linkdecidespäättäädeciderpäätäjänä
25participatory linkaskskysyyaskerkysyjänä
26participatory linkparticipatesosallistuuparticipantosallistujana
27participatory linkacceptshyväksyyaccepted byhyväksyjänä
28participatory linkdevelopskehittäädeveloped bykehittäjänä
29participatory linkproposesehdottaaproposed byehdottajana
30participatory linkanswersvastaaanswered byvastaajana
31participatory linkresponsible forvastuussaresponsibility ofvastuullisena
32participatory linknegotiatesneuvotteleenegotiated byneuvottelijana
33participatory linkrecommendssuositteleerecommended bysuosittelijana
34participatory linkcontrolskontrolloicontrolled bykontrolloijana
35participatory linkclaimsväittääclaimed byväittäjänä
36participatory linkownsomistaaowned byomistajana
37participatory linkdoestekeedone bytekijänä
38participatory linkmaintainsylläpitäämaintained byylläpitäjänä
39participatory linkoverseesvalvoooverseen byvalvojana
40operational linkhas optionomistaa vaihtoehdonoption forvaihtoehtona
41operational linkhas indexomistaa indeksinindex forindeksinä
42operational linktellskertootold bykertojana
43operational linkdescribeskuvaadescribed bykuvaajana
44operational linkmapskartoittaamapped bykartjoittajana
45operational linkcontains datasisältää dataadata contained indata sisältyy
46operational linkdata foron datanagets data fromsaa datansa
47operational linkuseskäyttääis used byon käytettävänäan input (object) for a process (subject)
48operational linkproducestuottaais produced bytuottajanaObject is an output of a process produced by a stakeholder (subject)
49operational linkprovidesvarustaais provided byvarustajana
50operational linkaboutaiheestaa task is about a topic. This overlaps with has topic; merge them?
51property linklogical linklooginen linkkiRelations based on logic
52property linkset theory linkjoukko-oppilinkkiRelations based on set theory
53set theory linkpart ofosanahas partsisältää osanis a part of a bigger entity, e.g. Venus is part of Solar System. Wikidata property P361 (part of) & P527 (has part). Previously we had relations about a decision: substance of, decision process of, stakeholder of, method of, task of, irrelevant to. But these are depreciated and replaced by has part, because the class of the object makes specific relations redundant.
54set theory linkcontext forkontekstinahas contextomistaa kontekstinOriginal definition: subject given that object is true. However, this has not been used for that purpose. Unclear if this is needed.
55set theory linkhas subclassomistaa alajoukonsubclass ofalajoukkonaWikidata property P279
56set theory linkhas instanceomistaa instanssininstance ofinstanssinaObject belongs to a set defined by the subject and inherits the properties of the set. Sysnonym for has item, which is depreciated. Wikidata property P31
57logical linkoppositevastakohtasubject is opposite of object, e.g. black is opposite of white. Wikidata property P461; it is its own inverse
58logical linkinversetoisinpäina sentence is equal to another sentence where subject and object switch places and has the inverse relation. This is typically needed in preprocessing of insight networks, and it rarely is explicitly shown of graphs. Wikidata property P1696; it is its own inverse
59logical linkif - thenjos - niinif not - then notjos ei - niin eiIf subject is true, then object is true. Also the negation is possible: if - then not. This links to logical operators and, or, not, equal, exists, for all; but it is not clear how they should be used in an insight network.
60operational linkpreparesvalmisteleeprepared byvalmistelijana
61operational linkpayskustantaapaid bykustantajana
62operational linkrationale forperusteleehas rationaleperusteltuu
63operational linkofferstarjoaaoffered bytarjoajana
64operational linkexecutessuorittaaexecuted bysuorittajana
65operational linkirrelevant toepärelevantti asiassaIf there is no identified relation (or chain of relations) between a subject and an object, it implies that the subject is irrelevant to the object. However, sometimes people may (falsely) think that it is relevant, and this relation is used to explicate the irrelevance.
66evaluative linkfinds importantkokee tärkeäksiis found importanttärkeäksi kokijana
67evaluative linkmakes relevanttekee relevantiksiis made relevantrelevantiksi tekijänäif the subject is valid in the given context, then the object is relevant. This typically goes between arguments, from a variable to value statement or from a value statement to a fact statement. This is a synonym of 'valid defend of type relevance'.
68evaluative linkmakes irrelevanttekee epärelevantiksiis made irrelevantepärelevantiksi tekijänäOpposite of 'makes relevant'. Synonym of 'valid attack of type relevance'.
69evaluative linkmakes redundanttekee turhaksiis made redundantturhaksi tekijänäEverything that is said in the object is already said in the subject. This depreciates a object because it brings no added value. However, it is kept for archival reasons and to demonstrate that the statement was heard.
70evaluative linkhas opinionon mieltäSubject (typically a stakeholder) supports the object (typically a value of fact statement). This is preferred over 'values' and 'finds important' because it is more generic without loss of meaning.
71evaluative linkvaluesarvostaavalued byarvostajanaA stakeholder (subject) gives value or finds an object important. Object may be a topic or statement. Depreciated, use 'has opinion' instead.
72evaluative linkhas truthlikenesson totuudellinenA subjective probability that subject is true. Object is a numeric value between 0 and 1. Typically this has a qualifier "according to X" where X is the person or archetype who has assigned the probability.
73evaluative linkhas preferencemieltymyspreference ofmieltymyksenäSubject is better than object in a moral sense.
74evaluative linkhas popularityon suosiossaA measure based on likes given by users.
75evaluative linkhas objectiveomaa tavoitteenobjective oftavoitteena
76argumentative linkagreessamaa mieltä
77argumentative linkdisagreeseri mieltä
78argumentative linkcommentskommentoicommented bykommentoijana
79argumentative linkdefendspuolustaadefended bypuolustajana
80argumentative linkattackshyökkääattacked byhyökkääjänä
81argumentative linkrelevant argumentrelevantti argumenttiArgument is relevant in its context.
82argumentative linkirrelevant argumentepärelevantti argumenttiArgument is irrelevant in its context.
83argumentative linkjoke aboutvitsi aiheestaprovokes jokekirvoittaa vitsinThis relation is used to describe that the subject should not be taken as information, even though it may be relevant. Jokes are allowed because they may help in creating new ideas and perspectives to an issue.
84referential linktopic ofaiheenahas topicaiheesta This is used when the object is a publication and the subject is a (broad) topic rather than a statement. In such situations, it is not meaningful to back up the subject with references. Useful in describing the contents of a publication, or identifying relevant literature for a topic.
85referential linkdiscussed inkerrotaandiscusseskertoo
86referential linkreference forviitteenähas referenceviiteSubject is a reference that backs up statements presented in the object. Used in the same way as references in scientific literature are used.
87referential linkstatesväittäästated inväitetään kohteessaDescribes the source of a statement; may also refer to a person.
88referential linktag fortäginähas tagomistaa täginSubject is a keyword, type, or class for object. Used in classifications.
89referential linkcategory forkategorianahas categorykuuluu kategoriaan
90referential linkassociates withliittyySubject is associated with object in some undefined way. This is a weak relation and does not affect the outcomes of inferences, but it may be useful to remind users that an association exists and it should be clarified more precisely. This is its own inverse.
91referential linkanswers questionvastaa kysymykseenhas answervastausUsed between a statement (answer) and a topic (question). In knowledge crystals, the relation is embedded in the object structure.
92irrelevant argumentirrelevant commentepärelevantti kommenttiWe don't need inverses, because the relation is always tied with an argument (the subject).
93irrelevant argumentirrelevant attackepärelevantti hyökkäys
94irrelevant argumentirrelevant defenseepärelevantti puolustus
95relevant argumentrelevant commentrelevantti kommentti
96relevant argumentrelevant attackrelevantti hyökkäys
97relevant argumentrelevant defenserelevantti puolustus
98property linkevaluative propertyarviointiominaisuuscharacteristic of a product or work that tells whether it is fit for its purpose. Especially used for assessments and assessment work.
99evaluative propertyproperty of decision supportpäätöstuen ominaisuusWhat makes an assessment or decision support process fit for its purpose?
100evaluative propertysetting of assessmentarvioinnin kattavuusWhat is the context and boundaries of an assessment?
101setting of assessmentimpactsvaikutuksetWhich impacts are addressed in assessment?
102setting of assessmentcausessyytWhich causes of impacts are recognised in assessment?
103setting of assessmentproblem ownerasianomistajaWho has the interest, responsibility and/or means to assess the issue?
104setting of assessmenttarget userskohderyhmäWho are the intended users of assessment results?
105setting of assessmentinteractionvuorovaikutusHow openly is an assessment produced?
106interactiondimension of opennessavoimuuden ulottuvuusWhat is the degree of openness in assessment (and management)?
107dimension of opennessscope of participationosallistumisen avoimuusWho are allowed to participate in the process?
108dimension of opennessaccess to informationtiedon avoimuusWhat information about the issue is made available to participants?
109dimension of opennesstiming of opennessosallistumisen ajoitusWhen are participants invited or allowed to participate?
110dimension of opennessscope of contributionosallistumisen kattavuusTo which aspects of the issue are participants invited or allowed to contribute?
111dimension of opennessimpact of contributionosallistumisen vaikutusHow much are participant contributions allowed to have influence on the outcomes? In other words, how much weight is given to participant contributions?
112interactioncategory of interactionvuorovaikutuksen luokkaHow does assessment interact with the intended use of its results? Possible values: isolated (eristetty), informing (tiedottava), participatory (osallistava), joint (yhteistyöhakuinen), shared (jaettu).
113property of decision supportquality of contentsisällön laatu
114quality of contentinformativenesstarkkuusspecificity of information, e.g. tightness of spread for a distribution. How many possible worlds does the answer rule out? How few possible interpretations are there for the answer?
115quality of contentcalibrationharhattomuusexactness or correctness of information. In practice often in comparison to some other estimate or a golden standard. How close is the answer to reality or real value?
116quality of contentcoherencesisäinen yhdenmukaisuuscorrespondence between questions and answers. Also between sets of questions and answers. How completely does the answer address the assessment question? Is everything addressed? Is something unnecessary?
117property of decision supportapplicabilitysovellettavuusproperties in relation to the user needs in a decision process
118applicabilityrelevancemerkityksellisyyscorrespondence between output and its intended use. How well does the information provided by the assessment serve the needs of the users? Is the assessment question good?
119applicabilityavailabilitysaatavuusaccessibility of the output to users in terms of e.g. time, location, extent of information, extent of users. Is the information provided by the assessment available when, where and to whom is needed?
120applicabilityusabilitykäytettävyyspotential of the information in the output to trigger understanding in its users about what it describes. Can the users perceive and internalise the information provided by the assessment? Does users' understanding increase about the assessed issue?
121applicabilityacceptabilityhyväksyttävyyspotential of the output being accepted by its users. Fundamentally a matter of its making and delivery, not its information content. Is the assessment result (output), and the way it is obtained and delivered for use, perceived as acceptable by the users?
122property of decision supportefficiencytehokkuusrelation of output and resources used to produce it.
123efficiencyintra-assessment efficiencysisäinen tehokkuusresource expenditure of producing the assessment output. How much effort is spent in the making of an assessment?
124efficiencyinter-assessment efficiencyulkoinen tehokkuusresource expenditure of producing assessment outputs in a series of assessments. If another (somewhat similar) assessment was made, how much (less) effort would be needed?
  • Relations indicator, risk indicator, effectiveness indicator, operational indicator are depreciated. Use item class operational indicator and relation describes.
  • Relations judgement, value judgement, value resolution, value, reach, fact judgement, estimate, fact resolution are unclear and therefore depreciated.


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How to manage shared understanding

Shared understanding is a structured description of a decision situation. A key idea is that it is much faster to produce than a quantitative assessment, is more usefully organised than a free-format document (not to mention unmoderated discussions), and can distill information from both into a coherent information structure.

What steps does the work process contain?

  1. Take a new piece of information.
  2. Identify a decision situation to which it is relevant (or it is commonly considered relevant even if it is not).
  3. Choose one of the topical relations for the piece.
  4. Link the piece to something else within the decision situation with a relation. If it links to nothing, it is irrelevant.
  5. Add descriptive tags, references etc. as appropriate.
  6. Link the relations to the decision situation the relation part of (this should happen automatically).

Questions for further developing shared understanding:

  • What are the main questions within each topical area?
  • What are necessary structures and relations?
  • What software tools can be used?

Potential tools for managing the information

  • Google Drive graphical tool [1]
  • Protégé software for ontologies
  • Wikidata for RDF database using Wikibase software [2]
  • Git for version control [3]
  • Shiny R package for user interface [4] [5]
  • R and D3 [7][8]

Example of using the structure

Columns that may have several values per risk are marked with *

Riskilomake (a variable with the question: What is a risk that is relevant for the success of THL's mission? There are several variables with an identical question, but each variable describes exactly one risk as an answer.)

Each column is described within the variable answer unless otherwise noted a property that is used to link the column contents to the variable.

id# Tarkastelukohde (yksikkö) * (has tag) Riskialue (aihepiiri karkea) * (has tag) Sisäalue / sisältösivu (aihepiiri tarkka) * (has tag) Riski Tarkennus Todennäköisyys Vakavuus Riskiluku (todennäköisyys*vakavuus) Hallintatoimet (kpl) Muistiinpanot Omistaja Tila Hallintatoimien valmius-% Omat liitteet * Luotu (automatic from version control) Päivitetty (automatic from version control)

Hallintatoimilomake (many-to-many relationship with risks) id# Hallintatoimi Määräpäivä Vastuuhenkilö Tila Omat liitteet * Luotu (automatic from version control) Päivitetty (automatic from version control)

Example about climate neutrality in Helsinki

Example about Arvoprofiili

Example about fisheries management in the Baltic Sea

Technical prerequisites

Open policy ontology can be implemented using an RDF database, e.g. Wikibase. These are some links to resources and guidance about that.

Related concepts

Deliberative democracy

James Fishkin, a key proponent of deliberative democracy, describes two approaches to public opinion, raw vs. refined: what people actually think vs. what their opinion would be after it has been tested by the consideration of competing arguments and information coscientiously offered by others who hold contrasting views. Political process can be seen as whether a filter or a mirror. The filter creates counterfactual but deliberative representations of public opinion. The mirror offers a picture of public opinion just as it is, even if it is debilitated or inattentive. The conflicting images suggest a hard choice between the reflective opinion of the filter and the reflected opinion of the mirror.[1]

It is only through the deliberations of a small face-to-face representative body that one can arrive at the "cool and deliberate sense of the community" (James Madison, Federalist No 63). ... A key desideratum in the Founders' project of constitutional design was the creation of conditions where the formulation and expression of deliberative public opinion would be possible.[1] A smallish group of randomly selected people are likely to act as a filter, while e.g. a referendum would act as a mirror. During the early days of the United States, James Madison actively designed governance structures that would enable the formation of refined public opinion in the national US policy. The electorate was such a construct, designed to enable informed argumentation about president candidates before the final vote. However, this role has completely disappeared, as nowadays the outcome of the electoral vote is known as soon as the composition of the electorate is known.

Shared understanding follows these lines of reasoning and aims to produce a deliberative outcome of informed argumentation. However, the major difference is that the deliberative process does not aim to produce a decision by the participants, but a comprehensive description of shared understanding with all relevant points and disagreements. This written description enables other people to learn and form their own opinions of the matter, and thus help in other similar decision situations. Although producing such a description may be time-consuming and labourious, re-usability of the information makes it worth the effort.

Cognitive democracy

  • Henry Farrell (George Washington University), Cosma Shalizi (Carnegie Mellon University and The Santa Fe Institute). 2012?. An Outline of Cognitive Democracy [9],

Farrell and Shalizi analyze three main approaches to socially achieve results: hierarchies in different forms (with problems that those who are in power are not receiving information from the others); markets (with problems that they converge to individual benefit, which is sometimes in conflict with social benfit), and democracy (with problem how to actually implement the main principle of equal power among individuals). They suggests approaches to improve democracy. is a website for organised democratic discussion. It helps large organizations and communities understand themselves by visualizing what people think.

  • An example discussion about sote indicators [10] (in progress)
  • A case study of temperature check [11]
  • A case study from Taiwan [12]: vTaiwan: Public Participation Methods on the Cyberpunk Frontier of Democracy. In the midst of the signal failure known as the US electoral season, here’s something to be inspired about: a true story about rational deliberation on a national scale.


Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes. (May 2017) More professionalism, less populism: How voting makes us stupid, and what to do about it. Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings. [13]


Artificial intelligence may solve some of the structural problems related to development of shared understanding. How this would actually happen is largely unclear. However, professor Timo Honkela is working toward this aim. For more details, see op_fi:Rauhankone.


A similar but simpler approach is by Mikaeli Langinvainio and Juha Törmänen, who used to work for Crisis Management Initiative. They use statistics to understand views and opinions of different stakeholder groups. (HS 25.6.2017 Voiko rauhanneuvotteluja edistää matematiikalla?) Their company inforglobe produces consulting services based on these ideas. [14]

Their web tool contains these information structures and functionalities (for more details, see Inforglobe link above):

Likelihood of affecting the project vs impact for the project vs knowledge level on the risk or threats vs opportunities


  • Categories (e.g. project planning, logistics and safety, or joker risks)
  • Participants (e.g. project team, planning organisation, partner organisation, or customer representative)

Issues e.g.

  • Contractor network (joker)
  • Cost stucture (planning)
  • Logistics
  • Machinery placement (logistics and safety)
  • Staff competence (planning)

Values e.g.:

  • Large or small 1-5
  • Likely 1-5
  • Knowledge good 1-5

Additional properties

  • Each value can be enhanced with a suggestion how to mitigate the impact or decrease the likelihood.
  • Individual answers can be shown with participant attributes and suggestions.
  • Each issue has a more detailed description.
  • Based on individual answers, you can make shared conclusions about each issue and how to manage the risks.
  • Assessment can be done several times.
  • Participants can be categorised based on position or sector (and maybe other attributes as well)

System dynamic maps

  • Issues as nodes
  • Complex system maps: Causal edges between them with strength
  • Significance of edges (links) is measured in some way and used to select nodes and edges for display
  • Co-operation: Links can also describe how well items (in this case organisations) communicate with each other.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 James Fishkin. (2011) When the people speak. Democratic deliberation and public consultancy. Publisher: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199604432