What is the difference between an OBO Foundry ontology and an OBO Format ontology?

There has been a lot of confusion about the difference between an OBO Foundry ontology and OBO Format ontology. The OBO Foundry maintains a registry of ontologies. An OBO Foundry ontology is simply a member of this registry. This has nothing at all to do with the OBO format, which is a serialisation, or file format for ontologies. Indeed, the OBO foundry does not even require that an ontology be published in OBO format: the canonical format (serialisation) for OBO ontology is an RDFXML serialisation of OWL. In summary, if you hear people talking about “OBO ontologies”, they could be talking about (at least) two completely different things: (1) Ontologies that are members of the OBO Foundry ontology registry; or (2) ontologies that have been serialised into OBO Format!

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