[uf-discuss] Comments from IBM/Lotus rep about Microformats

Benjamin West bewest at gmail.com
Wed Dec 6 14:33:33 PST 2006

Some clarification:

Isn't "microformats" more than one microformat?  And what is a
microformat?  I thought a microformat was a specific collection of
defined names and structure defined by a rigorous process of market
research intended to consider pervasive use of semantic html in order
to increase data fidelity of HTML-borne data widely distributed on the

When people mention "microformats" they often are referring to "the
use of semantic html to increase data fidelity."  This is extremely
confusing because a microformat, or Microformat, is something more
than any use of semantic html, it's a specific use to represent
specific data.  That is to say that the word "microformats" does not
refer to a technique of data representation.  Microformats are not a
general extension mechanism, and such language is very confusing, and
harmful to discussion.

The general extension mechanism is to publish data using the best
semantic techniques available, currently via class,rel,profile...  The
fact that microformats use these means doesn't somehow turn
microformats into a technique for doing so.  Vendors, authors, or
anyone, can use the same techniques to raise proprietary data fidelity
in HTML, but that doesn't turn them into a microformat.  Data formats
using these techniques achieve candidacy as a microformat when their
use is widespread.

Talk of general microformats doesn't make sense.  Talk of microformats
as technique also does not make sense.  Talk of microformats as a
group makes sense, but only when it refers to more than one actual
microformat. When applied to people, "Microformateers" is probably

Thanks for helping to clear this up on the whatwg list, to some
degree.  Do we need to be more protective of our vocabulary?


The definition I've given is what I understand microformats to be.
AFAIK, there is no official definition, which may be contributing to
the splintering of our vocabulary and mindshare.  If I'm wrong I'm
sure someone will correct me.

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