Blog post format challenge (was Re: [microformats-discuss] Weblog entries and forum posts)

Mark Rickerby coretxt at
Sun Aug 14 05:04:09 PDT 2005

> > Microformats are based on practical, first-hand experience.  Theoreticians
> > and academics need not apply.
> >
> > You've got until your next post on this thread to start a blog and post a
> > few times before you get called on it.
> Tantek, no offense meant but that sounds a little harsh to me.
> I agree that having a blog is very, very benefiting when you are about
> to work on a blog posting format, but you can also have valuable
> experience of existing practice just from reading blogs.
> I don't understand why someone *must* have a blog to be allowed to take
> part into this discussion.

Maybe it does sound harsh, but it's also realistic and practical... To
understand what a blog format needs to be, you really do have to
actually work with the markup in a real situation. Theres just no
other way to come to terms with the requisite balance of semantics and

Perhaps I missed something on the wiki, but one thing that I'm failing
to see with the blog format discussion in particular is an answer to
the question "why?"...

I think this issue has to be considered directly from a
presentation/design perspective. Atom and RSS exist, and they are
quite useful for what they do. Atom, especially goes further than just
being an envelope format, in the way that it can be used to represent
individual entries as well as a collection. Web authors could lift the
semantics of Atom or RSS elements directly into HTML classes. This
would be a similar approach to what Danny Ayers has done with DOAP
( but I
don't know if this is the best way forward for blogs in general...

I feel much more comfortable with the idea that blog markup should
refect the individual and unique structure of the concept and site
design itself - primarily, it should reflect the intended
presentation/structure of the writing (the *meaning* behind the
content). Everyone has different goals and motivations for publishing
content on the web, and the concept of what a blog actually is in
general may be amorphous and hard to nail down, despite the fact that
there are common structures and patterns in widespread usage (the
year/month/day format of archive URLs might be the best example of a
widespread pattern)...

I guess what I am saying is that it's the content that's important,
and I personally believe that it's more practical (and IMHO
semantically interesting) to model this content at the elemental level
(basic english), and allow the subsequent markup, visual design, *and*
URI design to reflect this ...

A basic content model for a blog might look like:


or alternatively...


I like the idea of being as specific as possible with this content
model, and then allowing the blog markup to directly reflect that...


<div class="article"></div>

would represent something subtly different than

<div class="post"></div>

even if on the surface, the actual publishing flow was the same basic
blogging process.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I greatly value the richness and
flexibility of (X)HTML and its resulting design potential, and it
would be a shame to sacrifice this with a more "universal" or
"generic" approach to blog markup if that was to have an impact on the
potential for people to publish and model their content in interesting
and diverse ways.

But maybe I'm misreading the notion of what a blog microformat is.

Rather than handwringing about whether the person who wrote an entry
should be represented as class="author" or class="creator" etc, I
would suggest recommending to publishers that they either:

a) draw their HTML semantics from a higher level content model (ie:
use a unique model of fields that maps to their overall design
b) use fields from an already established pattern, such as RSS or Atom.

I think a) possibly summarises the blog format challenge. Thus I have
to promise to clean up all my remaining tag soup right now...


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