The element type <topic> is the base topic type from which all other topic types are specialized. All topics have the same basic structure.
For authors, typed content is preferred to support consistency in writing and presentation to readers. The generic topic type should only be used if authors are not trained in information typing or when a specialized topic type is inappropriate. The OASIS DITA standard provides several specialized topic types, including concept, task, and reference that are critical for technical content development.
For those pursuing specialization, new specialized topic types should be specialized from appropriate ancestors to meet authoring and output requirements.