According to the dashboard, 79 publishers use multiple
@hierarchy values. But as we know, the
@hierarchy attribute is in many cases used incorrectly. If we instead look at
related-activity, 199 publishers have at least one parent/child relation in their data.
Looking at how this is used in the wild, these parent/child relations very often span multiple publishers. Here are some random examples (these are some of the longest, each involving four activities):
You can also see in these examples that reciprocal parent/child relationships often aren’t declared. That is, while B might declare that A is its parent, that doesn’t necessarily mean A will declare that B is its child.
So it looks like in the absence of clear guidance, and without feedback loops to correct publishers’ data, publishers have been left to figure out their own rules.
The cool thing about the
@hierarchy attribute is it provides a checksum, which can be used to spot errors. So IATI (or a third party) could use it to check related activity data and raise the issue with publishers.
This attribute is surely there to make life easier for data users. Of course if it’s wrong, that won’t help the data user. But I wonder if the correct solution should be to fix it, rather than to remove it.