markpasc (markpasc) wrote,

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taral has me reading about FOAF, so I'll share this bit:

Property: foaf:gender

gender - The gender of this Agent (typically but not necessarily ‘male’ or ‘female’).

... Note that FOAF's notion of gender isn't defined biologically or anatomically—this would be tricky since we have a broad notion that applies to all foaf:Agents (including robots—eg. Bender from Futurama is ‘male’). As stressed above, FOAF's notion of gender doesn't attempt to encompass the full range of concepts associated with human gender, biology and sexuality. As such it is a (perhaps awkward) compromise between the clinical and the social/psychological. In general, a person will be the best authority on their foaf:gender. Feedback on this design is particularly welcome (via the FOAF mailing list, rdfweb-dev). We have tried to be respectful of diversity without attempting to catalogue or enumerate that diversity.

This may also be a good point for a periodic reminder: as with all FOAF properties, documents that use foaf:gender will on occassion be innacurate, misleading or outright false. FOAF, like all open means of communication, supports lying. Application authors using FOAF data should always be cautious in their presentation of unverified information, but be particularly sensitive to issues and risks surrounding sex and gender (including privacy and personal safety concerns). Designers of FOAF-based user interfaces should be careful to allow users to omit foaf:gender when describing themselves and others, and to allow at least for values other than ‘male’ and ‘female’ as options. Users of information conveyed via FOAF (as via information conveyed through mobile phone text messages, email, Internet chat, HTML pages etc.) should be skeptical of unverified information.

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