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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition by Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfeld

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Semantic Relationships

What sets a thesaurus apart from the simpler controlled vocabularies is its rich array of semantic relationships. Let’s explore each relationship more closely.

Equivalence

The equivalence relationship (Figure 9-21) is employed to connect preferred terms and their variants. While we may loosely refer to this as “synonym management,” it’s important to recognize that equivalence is a broader term than synonymy.

The equivalence relationship

Figure 9-21. The equivalence relationship

Our goal is to group terms defined as “equivalent for the purposes of retrieval.” This may include synonyms, near-synonyms, acronyms, abbreviations, lexical variants, and common misspellings; for example:

Preferred Term

Palm m505

Variant Terms (Equivalents)

Palm, Palm Pilot, Palm 505, Palm505, Palm V, Handheld, Pocket PC, Handspring Visor

In the case of a product database, it may also include the names of retired products and of competitors’ products. Depending upon the desired specificity of your controlled vocabulary, you may also fold more general and more specific terms into the equivalence relationship to avoid extra levels of hierarchy. The goal is to create a rich entry vocabulary that serves as a funnel, connecting users with the products, services, and content that they’re looking for and that you want them to find.

Hierarchical

The hierarchical relationship (Figure 9-22) divides up the information space into ...

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