[uf-discuss] A microformat for relationship availability and preference?

Angus McIntyre angus at pobox.com
Wed Dec 20 05:02:00 PST 2006

At 07:41 +0000 20.12.2006, Ciaran McNulty wrote:
>On 12/20/06, Chris Messina <chris.messina at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  You could also use the absense of certain XFN values as a stopgap...
>>  At least you know that the folks without sweatheart or spouse haven't
>>  removed themselves from the pool!

Notwithstanding the claim that "It is a truth universally 
acknowledged that a young man in possession of a fortune must be in 
want of a wife"[1], there are folks who don't have a sweetheart or a 
spouse who aren't looking to hook up.

	"I can't understand it, Mother Superior. Since I added the
	 XFN information to the convent's website, we've all been
	 bombarded with email."

There are all kinds of inferences that it's dangerous to draw from an 
incomplete description.

>What if one's sweetheart doesn't have a URL (insane as that sounds in
>this day and age)? :-)

My sweetheart has several URLs, but for a variety of reasons I don't 
want to cite any of them with a 'sweetheart' relation (and she 
wouldn't want me to either).

Which raises the whole question for me with XFN, which is a practical 
one, rather than a technical one: do we really want the world to know 
all that stuff about us? I keep finding myself torn between the 
desire to implement XFN just because it's such a cool idea, and the 
feeling that 'No, the world does not need a traversable graph of all 
my relationships'. On the future day that I'm arrested for harboring 
thoughts unfriendly to the Regime, do I want them to have a 
machine-readable list of all my friends? Or do I want some future 
scammer/spammer to be able to go to my friend and say "Angus gave me 
your address and said we should get in touch." (A message that began 
"Hey, _______, Angus says you have a small penis." could get me into 
all kinds of trouble). One day marking up your relationships with XFN 
might seem as naive as putting your email address on your site.

To use or not to use XFN is a decision that everyone has to make for 
themselves.  One thing that I think I might use more readily would be 
an XFN for non-human entities. I could imagine tagging links to sites 
that I've built with markers like "blog", "vanitysite", "business", 
"project", "client", "employer" and so forth. Again, there are 
potential pitfalls, but it's a little less intimate than XFN as it 
stands now.


[1] "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Austen

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