[uf-discuss] Species microformat process

Charles Roper charles.roper at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 09:04:19 PST 2007

I'm very interested in the Species microformat, but the process seems
to have stalled and I just wanted to poll opinion here as to why that
might be. Is it due to a lack of demand? It seems that the successful
microformats have been developed, in the main, by web designers and
developers for web designers and developers. Could it be that web
designers and developers of the microformats community do not perceive
the value of a species microformat in the same way that they can see
the value of, say, hCard, hReview, XFN, etc. The more successful
microformats seem to be riding on the back of the "social web"
zeitgeist, with many (most?) being used in this kind of context. I
don't see species as being of particular interest to the bloggers and
the other social-networking, mashup-making, digerati of current times.
Is appealing to this demographic the key in getting a microformat
developed? I'd appreciate the view of people in this community.

I also wanted to ask about the fundamental microformat principle of
"paving the cowpaths" in relation to hCard. It seems to me that hCard
was derived from vCard rather than being based on existing markup
practice. How does this square up with the cowpaths philosophy?

This brings me to a question about Species. The Species proposal
doesn't really reflect current mark-up practice but instead represents
what might be a good way of doing things in the future if authors were
to start using it. The vocabulary in the proposal isn't plucked out of
thin-air, though; it is taken from the taxonomic hierarchy as used by
biologists. It seems to be modelled on hCard in this respect, hence my
cowpaths question. My own feeling is that the current proposal is too
complex. The current usage patterns as far as I can see (in the
majority of cases) either have species names as plain text or
marked-up with simple <strong> tags, or <em> or <i>. However, I'm not
adverse to having a rich vocabulary of class names to call on should I
need them (which 9 times out of 10 I won't), as long as a species name
can still be marked-up very simply. This is similar to the way in
which hCard has a rich vocabulary, but can still be very simple.

Charles Roper

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