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Meeting minutes

They're typed, they look good, but all the meaning (participants, decisions, action items, etc.) is impossible to glean automatically. Enter hMinutes (or whatever)!

The Problem

Meeting notes provide a wealth of semantic content, invaluable to organizations. Meeting notes are routinely recorded in intranets, and (with public organizations) on the internet; however, without semantic content it is very difficult to extract the specific information, analyze it, distribute it, or search it effectively. This investigation seeks to document how meeting minutes on the web are structured, towards a lightweight suite of microformats and format extensions for markup.


  • Brush

Real-World Examples

These are fairly random, selected for variety of approach. Research is not yet in-depth. Room for more!

Gene Ontology Consortium

  • Abbreviated organization name
  • Dates
  • Location (locality, region)
  • Next meeting date/location (to be confirmed)
  • Participants
    • Listed by group-affiliation
    • Names in comma-delimited parentheses
    • Some groups not represented, still listed (like regrets)
  • Nested outline of items (XOXO!)
  • Major topic -> subsidiary topic
    • Includes introduction, by named presenter(s)
    • Discussion item list
      • Detailed (but flat) following of arguments pro and con
      • Identified conclusions (decisions? not formal?)
      • Certain items or references id specific people
    • Action items
      • listed after each topic
      • assigned to a person (or to "everyone")
      • Also summarized at end of minutes
      • Previous action items listed, with status:
        • done
        • unresolvable
        • in progress
        • almost done
        • other details, etc.
    • Brainstorm section
  • Next meetings:
    • Types
    • Dates
    • Locations

Stevens Hospital Board

  • Organization, committee
  • Date
  • Time start/end
  • Kind of meeting (ie. special meeting, as opposed to regular)
  • Present, with roles:
    • member/non-member
    • President/Secretary
    • organizational affiliations
    • also plurally generic (ie. "Hospital Managers and citizens from the community, SEIU 1199NW delegation")
  • Outline list (flat) of items
    • "Call to order"
    • "Oath of office" (ie. establishment of new official roles for individuals)
    • Approval of previous minutes (special form of decision)
    • Reports from managers/committees
    • Authorizations for expenditures
    • "Other business"
    • Public comment
    • Adjournment
  • Decisions included in text of items
    • motion made
    • seconded
    • approved unanimously
    • included appointments to committees (changes in roles?)
  • Items include one, sometimes more specifically referenced speakers

PHP Developers Meeting

  • Includes relatively unhelpful presentation-oriented table-of-contents link outline markup (more detail?)
  • Title
  • Date
  • Location
  • Attendees
    • Affiliation
  • High-level item
    • Includes one-sentence summary
  • Second-level item
    • Issue
    • Discussion
    • Conclusion(s)
      • Not clear distinction between decisions and action items
      • Some action items attached to specific people

GNOME/Mozilla Meeting

  • Title (included two participating organizations)
  • Date
  • (Email, so "date sent out" included implicitly)
  • Attendance
    • Organizational affiliation
    • minutes
    • chair
  • Regrets
  • Actions (list)
  • Discussion (list tree, no titles)
    • Specific items inside each discussion item refer to specific person(s)
    • Follow pros and cons of arguments

ICANN Executive Committee

  • Organization and committee
  • form of meeting (ie. teleconference)
  • Date
  • Time start/end
  • Attendance (noted that all were present throughout) with roles:
    • member of committee
    • member and chair
    • non-member, board secretary
    • non-member, general counsel
  • XOXO-like outline of items
  • "Resolved:" decisions for each item.
    • vote count (ie. 4-0)
    • who proposed
    • who seconded
  • Also included items deferred to later meetings

Existing Practices

  • Summary of common patterns discovered: An informal "80/20" analysis of most commonly used elements:
    • 80% used items are mostly extremely common:
      • Title (organization/committee name, sometimes location)
      • Date (time is fairly common as well)
      • Participants (almost always include specific notation of Chair and Secretary, regrets also really common)
      • Point list of topics
        • Often flat, but also often nested
        • Some models (specifically formal meetings) have clear, regular division of kinds of topics (eg. reports from committees, approval of minutes, old business, new business, public comment, etc.)
      • Decisions (usually include description of how vote broke down, movers, seconders, etc.)
      • Action items (who assigned to; sometimes status review, date due, etc.)
      • Next meeting(s) - fairly common
    • The 20% portion is primarily specific kinds of topic divisions, specific categories of participants, categories of meetings (special, regular, business, ...), etc. These could be standardized for certain sets of applications without writing into the uformat per se.
  • Other attempts to solve The Problem: Does anyone have references to other schemae attempted to address this issue? How about a semantically marked up implementation!?
    • All W3C meetings are recorded, as a matter of policy. There are zillions of teleconference and ftf meeting records. See MeetingRecords in the ESW wiki for notes, patterns, and tools, especially the scribe.perl tool, Zakim, and RRSAgent. -DanC
    • The W3C tools assume the following structure, near as I can tell: (DanC, more advice?) (I've eliminated IRC-specific details)
      • Meeting: title
      • Chair: name
      • Scribe: name
      • Agenda: URL of agenda - agendas are automatically formed using various tools, and are essentially a flat list of agenda items
      • Present: comma-delimited list of names
      • Regrets: pre-announced non-attendees
      • Date: yup
      • Topic: next in a flat list of agendums; topic name seems to often be (I think) in a well-formed format for reference to a centrally kept list (RDF or other?)
      • Action: list, of, names to description of action [STATUS]
        • Status is optional
        • May be DONE, PENDING, DROPPED, with other synonyms
        • Again, this is well-tracked between meetings for the purpose of providing open action item lists
      • Resolved: description of decision made
    • The vCard spec includes a definition for vTodo. I'm assuming that iCal-basic and hCalendar don't already include this part of the spec, so it could become the basis to an extension of the hCalendar uformat (or a new hTodo?) that defines action items. (Action item management is a core focus of the W3C technical tools above.) This would be integrated into hMinutes.

Existing Formats

See meeting-minutes-formats for current standards for publishing meeting-minutes.

NOTE: This research should be done before brainstorming proposals. Does anyone have ideas? Besides some brainstorming at W3C, haven't found any current standards.


Moved to meeting-minutes-brainstorming.

It is probably better to first:

  1. analyze what are the 80/20 common elements of the examples above. Done, at least initially.
  2. complete the research of meeting-minutes-formats. Any other ideas on this?
  3. and then go about proposing a solution for the whole format, rather than parts of it, while attempting to reuse other microformats as much as possible. Tantek

See Also

  • Other microformats
  • Normative references for tags used