‘Likes’ joins the semantic web: cito:likes

A ‘like’ button is a well-known feature in communication software such as social networking services, Internet forums, news websites and blogs that permits a user to indicate that he/she likes, enjoys or supports certain content.  Internet services that feature ‘like’ buttons usually also display the number of users who have expressed that they ‘like’ a particular item of content, providing a quantitative estimate of the strength of support for it.

In particular, the ‘Like’ button is one of Facebook’s social plug-ins, which can be use on websites outside Facebook as part of Facebook’s Open Graph.  It is valued by advertisers who wish to attract ‘likes’ for their products (and who pay Facebook for the privilege), but its use has aroused privacy concerns because it permits Facebook to track visitors to participating sites, even if they not Facebook users, giving Facebook a vast amount of information about who visits which sites.

Like it or not, however, this form of social communication has now become an integral feature of online social interactions.  For this reason, we thought it would be worthwhile to enable encoding of such ‘likes’ as open linked data, in the form of a new object property in CiTO, the Citation Typing Ontology.

This new property, cito:likes, has the following definition:

“A property that permits you to express appreciation of or interest in something, or to express that it is worth thinking about even if you do not agree with its content, enabling social media ‘likes’ statements to be encoded in RDF.  Use of this property does NOT imply the existence of a formal citation of the entity that is ‘liked’.”

An exemplar usage of cito:likes (in Turtle format) is:

sioc: <http://rdfs.org/sioc/ns#> .
foaf: <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/> .
today: <http://opencitation.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/> .

today:cito-likes a sioc:Post ;
	sioc:has_creator [ 
		a sioc:UserAccount ; 
		sioc:account_of [ 
			a foaf:Person ;
			foaf:givenName "David" ;
			foaf:familyName "Shotton" ] ] .

<https://www.facebook.com/silvioperoni> a sioc:UserAccount ;
	sioc:account_of <http://www.essepuntato.it/me>;
	cito:likes today:cito-likes .

To our surprise, we found that existing ontologies did not include such a property – a search in the excellent new LOV (Linked Open Vocabularies) service revealed that no other open ontology contains the same concept as is now represented by cito:likes.

The Trait Ontology has trait:likes, but this object property has a gender-related domain, and its definition indicates that its usage is designed for expressing sexual fetish preferences.

Schema.org at first sight appears to have something resembling cito:likes, but inspection of schema:UserLike reveals this use to be specific for events.

Even the SIOC ontology, a product of the SIOC initiative (Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities) aimed at enabling the integration of online community information, which is described in an award-winning paper from DERI [1], lacks the concept ‘likes’.

So here we offer cito:likes, a property (like all other cito properties) without domain or range constraints, permitting it to be used in a wide variety of situations.

Like it? Click the Like button below!

David Shotton
Silvio Peroni

Reference

[1]     John G. Breslin, Andreas Harth, Uldis Bojars, and Stefan Decker (2005). Towards Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities.  In Proc. ESWC 2005 (A. Gómez-Pérez and J. Euzenat, Eds.); Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3532, pp. 500–514.  doi:10.1007/11431053_34.  Available from http://bit.ly/KQ2iK4.

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3 Responses to ‘Likes’ joins the semantic web: cito:likes

  1. Have you thought about mapping cito:likes to Facebook’s ? To get it in RDF use: $ curl -H “Accept:text/turtle” http://graph.facebook.com/schema/user.

  2. essepuntato says:

    Dear Jindřich,

    I took a look at the Turtle stream you suggested and I found the property “user:likes” that seems to be more specific than “cito:likes”, since the former has always a (Facebook) user as domain while the latter leaves the domain and range unspecified so as to be used in different context – e.g. that a foaf:Person (not a user) likes some newspaper article.

    Thus, I think that we should not to add a sub-property axiom in CiTO (i.e. user:likes rdfs:subPropertyOf cito:likes), since it is good practice to add it in the ontology that should actually extend cito:likes. However, we may think to develop a separate ontology that implements this relation in terms of SKOS relation, e.g.: user:likes skos:broader cito:likes.

  3. Hello, I just stumbled here in search of some vocabulary terms to model interactions in modern social networks. I’d like to model semantically FB’s Likes, Twitter Retweets and favourites. The cito:likes seems to cover the first one: do you have any pointers to related studies? Thanks!

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