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

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at gmail.com
Wed Dec 6 20:52:49 PST 2006

Bruce D'Arcus wrote:
>> RDFa includes namespacing, the lack of which is already a problem in
microformats (witness hCite and the serious awkwardness that title will be
indicate using fn), and which will grow over time as more and more people
want to mark up their content.
>> Moreover, the need to write dedicate code for each new microformat will
also present serious scalability problems.
>> Finally, that there's no model at the heart of microformats with clear
extension rules means that the vaunted social process here is a mess.
>> It's all centralized, and people get frustrated when their pet property
isn't included because they know what that means: the tools written for the
blessed microformats won't see them.

I agree with your comments.

Whereas I think XML namespaces are too difficult for widespread adoption in
HTML markup, I think the lack of any similar scope mechanism for
Microformats and the resistance of some in the Microformat to prepare
Microformats for scaling in usage and application mean that Microformats may
end up being remembered as "a good idea at the time" but quite possibly not
in use several years out. 

Scott Reynen wrote:
>> I think it's just a limited goal of solving specific problems as simply
as possible.  If people want to solve general problems without the
constraints of keeping it simple for publishers, I'd say they should do that
somewhere else.

I think you are creating a false dichotomy. I do agree that RDF is too
difficult, but I don't think addressing the issues in another way would
necessarily sacrifice ease of use.

David Janes wrote:
>> The best part about microformats (IMHO) is not the class and rel and abbr
stuff, but the fact that it deliberately constrains itself to real problems
that people are actually having.

But only those real problems, as Bruce pointed out, that "conform to some
limited set of terms that only get agreed to through some tortuous process
of which the vast majority of people couldn't be bothered."  

Benjamin West wrote:
>> Talk of general microformats doesn't make sense.  Talk of microformats as
technique also does not make sense.  
If that is true, then having Microformat Design Patterns[1] doesn't make
sense.  Which is it?

The core problem is no strategies have been adopted to avoid naming
collisions, and to avoid having the whole concept self destruct from it's
own weight of complexity. People who want to contribute but can't because
the centralized Microformat community is not interested will go off and
create their own and names start clashing, we'll just be left with one big

Most of the Microformat community seems to want to keep Microformats a tight
knit club focused on a small number of use cases that reviews and approves
everything, declining things they don't like, but I think there is really an
obligation to the Internet at large to address how to scale the process
because Microformats squat on a scare resource (names in classes.) 

With great power comes great responsibility; Microformats has a
responsibility to the web at large to ensure Microformats can scale, but all
I've seen is resistence to even consider that (which is one of the reason's
I've been quiet lately.)

-Mike Schinkel

[1] http://microformats.org/wiki/Main_Page#Design_Patterns

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