Gartner Research

Classonomies: Taxonomies, Ontologies and Folksonomies Demystified

Published: 05 February 2015

ID: G00274077

Analyst(s): Darin Stewart


Managed vocabularies are gaining favor as a way to improve collaboration and information management. As disparate departments and organizations increasingly share information, it's crucial that they use a common vocabulary; otherwise they're just talking at one another, rather than with one another.

Table Of Contents


  • Defining the Terms
    • Classonomies: The Umbrella Term
    • Glossaries: Controlled Vocabularies and Thesauri
    • Org Charts: Taxonomies and Ontologies
    • Sticky Notes: Folksonomies
  • Why Now?
  • Classonomies Within the Larger Content Management Picture
  • Applying Classonomies
    • Content Management Systems
    • Translation Systems
    • Enterprise Search
    • Records Management
    • Social Software and Collaboration Tools
  • The Yin and Yang of Classonomies
    • Professional vs. Corporate
    • Corporate vs. Outsiders
    • Corporate vs. Divisions/Departments
    • One vs. Many
    • Formal vs. Informal
    • Exclusivity vs. Inclusivity
    • Depth vs. Breadth
    • Term vs. Instantiation
  • Market Analysis
    • Market Sectors
  • Standards: ANSI/NISO Z39.19, ISO 2788, Zthes and SKOS
  • Market Projections
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

Gartner Definitions


  • Decide Whether a Corporate Classonomy Is Needed
  • If Needed, Start Developing One, but Expect to Develop Many
  • Get the Classonomy and Subject Matter Experts to Work Together
  • Make the Classonomies Earn Their Keep
  • Keep Working at It
  • Recognize That the Ultimate Rule Is to Do What Works

The Details

  • Five Ways to Organize Information
  • The Tools: Glossaries, Org Charts and Sticky Notes
    • Controlled Vocabulary
    • Thesaurus
  • The Differences Among Taxonomies, Ontologies and Folksonomies
    • Taxonomies
    • Ontologies
    • Folksonomies
  • Conclusion

Gartner Recommended Reading

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