I am describing media elements and I don't know whether to use skos:subject or dc:subject to describe a topic of a media item. I want to use a class in the range of the relation to be able to find media items of the same topic and to describe the topic. I read that skos:subject is deprecated, and dc:subjct has a text field as range (right?). Could I still use dc:subject or there is any other vocabulary to describe this? Thanks!

asked 29 Apr '10, 13:49

Ale's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%

I would strongly recommend the following pattern:

  • Use dcterms:subject to refer to a resource describing a topic, e.g. a skos:Concept
  • Use foaf:topic or foaf:primaryTopic to refering to a specific entity that is the topic of something, e.g. dbpedia:London

dcterms:subject is intended to be used to refer to entries in a controlled vocabulary and SKOS is the best practice way to publish those.

foaf:topic (and related terms) are for relating together resources.

Dan Brickley has a nice diagram that illustrates this usage:


I drew on that whilst putting together this presentation:



answered 10 Jun '10, 22:03

ldodds's gravatar image

accept rate: 32%

Dublin Core was updated in 2008, and has (happily) moved away from the ubiquitous literals of dc10 and dc11. In your case move to using the current namespace http://purl.org/dc/terms/ (i.e. http://purl.org/dc/terms/subject) and you'll find "[t]his term is intended to be used with non-literal values" (http://dublincore.org/documents/dcmi-terms/#terms-subject).


answered 29 Apr '10, 14:18

Comment%20Bot's gravatar image

Comment Bot
accept rate: 41%

edited 29 Apr '10, 14:39

Cool, I saw there was no resriction when I imported the DC ontology, and I hestite. Thanks for clarify my doubt :)

(29 Apr '10, 14:29) Ale Ale's gravatar image

You're not alone in being confused. The older DC didn't really commit to an RDF-ish model, and the requirements of values was rather vague. The new work is, as you can see, much better aligned with RDF. The deprecation of skos:subject is closely related to this decision.

(29 Apr '10, 14:37) Comment Bot Comment%20Bot's gravatar image

skos:subject is indeed deprecated in favour of dc:subject.

With the modern version of DC, DC Terms, http://purl.org/dc/terms/subject, then using a resource as the value of dc:subject is fine.

Using a class rather than a skos:Concept as the classification can be OK but there is a difference between the class of say Lions and the class of media that are about Lions. See the Semantic Web Best Practice note for a discussion on this: http://www.w3.org/TR/swbp-classes-as-values/


answered 29 Apr '10, 14:28

Dave%20Reynolds's gravatar image

Dave Reynolds
accept rate: 46%

maybe foaf:topic could also be of interest, since it has a foaf:Document as domain, and a owl:Thing as range


answered 29 Apr '10, 16:33

Yannick's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

dcterms:subject is definately a good choice, however it's worth considering sioc:topic too, in general usage dcterms:subject is often used with literal values by the broader web community, whereas sioc:topic is a subclass of dcterms:subject and generally used only with URIs.


answered 30 Apr '10, 20:09

Nathan's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

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Asked: 29 Apr '10, 13:49

Seen: 7,888 times

Last updated: 10 Jun '10, 22:03