Taxonomy, Technology and other Taxing Stuff

By far the most complex aspect of the site build is the technology that sits behind the matching process – in other words the technology that suggest suitable gurus or tasks to help on. The logic or intelligence that ensures the right people are matched will be supported by a taxonomy (or a classification and grouping of terms that relate to particular tasks). Although the behind-the-scenes technology may be very complex, a similarly challenging and important aspect is ensuring the user interface is clean and simple, and generally quick and easy to use. These are the two, somewhat daunting, tasks we are getting stuck into right now.

To help us create the taxonomy, we’re using the National Occupational Standards (NOS), published by Sector Skills Councils. The NOS’s describe key areas of common jobs, grouped into “suites” which represent a particular job role or occupation. These, we suspect, will correlate reasonably well with tasks people may need help with. The standards have been compiled by panels of experts, usually senior people within each industry, and so are a good starting point for us. The Third Sector Skills Council is particularly useful, for example, detailing 33 standards within the fundraising suite. We will be collaborating with them as we build the taxonomy in this area.

Of course, there is more to a suitable match than simply matching skills needed to skills offered, not least of which is mentor and mentee rapport. While we will strive to get the matching functionality as good as it can be, it will never eliminate the need for human intervention, and there will always be a need for the individuals concerned to follow-up and determine if indeed the proposed match is suitable.

However, on the technology side, there are some really cool things that can be done. For example, by harnessing the power of the semantic web or pulling in details from LinkedIn. We’re going to be exploring these areas with the Technology Team on November 24th in what will be our first face to face Technology Team workshop.
Bring it on!

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