[uf-discuss] "Must Ignore vs. Microformats"

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Wed Jul 19 10:17:14 PDT 2006

On 7/19/06 8:37 AM, "Frances Berriman" <fberriman at gmail.com> wrote:

> http://cafe.elharo.com/xml/must-ignore-vs-microformats
> A friend of mine showed me this today.  Macroformats, over Microformats.

The article is terrible and about 90% incorrect.  Unfortunately this is
perhaps in due in some part to the IBM article which though decent overall,
has some errors itself, and takes a walk through transcoding to XML and back
which is interesting but perhaps unnecessary.

The author of the "macroformats" article misses all the reasons that XML has
failed on the Web, and all the specific design principles that have gone
into microformats that were developed by learning from XML's failure.  In
fact, he continues to push several of these reasons as actual *plusses* for
XML (namespaces, invalidity, etc.)

There will continue to be plenty of folks banging there head against the
wall and trying to push "plain old xml" (POX) on the Web, and they will
likely continue to see the same amount of success as they have to date.

What we can do to be helpful:

1. Dissect articles like this into a series of assertions/questions and put
them on the wiki, e.g.:

* "why would anyone write markup like this? It brings exactly nothing to the

Perhaps put such assertions/questions on a page like:


And make sure that each assertion/question has its own heading so that it
automatically gets a fragment identifier permalink.

2. Debunk each assertion / and answer each question, e.g.

Things brought to the table:

a. The existing widespread knowledge, experience and toolsets of (X)HTML
authoring as compared to XML.

b. Ability to easily present to the user.  Cross browser support of
(X)HTML+CSS rivals that of POX+CSS.

etc.  see http://microformats.org/wiki/microformats for more

Over time we'll debunk/refute/fisk such bad articles/posts to the point
where anyone can reference the debunkings and respond to such posts with
nothing more than a series of URLs.

I know this may seem like a waste of time (like let people learn on their
own, especially if they take the time to do such attacks as a comparison to
homeopathy, sigh), but as microformats continue to grow in prominence, we
owe it to the community, and to those who are new, to clarify misconceptions
and misunderstandings.



P.S. If you're just looking for an easy response to debunk most POX efforts,
use this one:

"Accessibility.  According to WCAG, when publishing on the Web you should
use semantic XHTML elements (which microformats encourage) which
accessibility tools have a chance of doing something with, not be making up
your own elements which are meaningless to screen readers etc."

The POX-crowd still have no answer to that, and it stems from the
fundamental Tower of Babel / Namespaces mess which is unfixable due to
cultural reasons.

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