[uf-discuss] Species microformat process

Andy Mabbett andy at pigsonthewing.org.uk
Wed Jan 31 06:55:38 PST 2007

In message
<b5d3b8c70701300904u372f95d4m377087cda16dedb6 at mail.gmail.com>, Charles
Roper <charles.roper at gmail.com> writes

>I'm very interested in the Species microformat, but the process seems
>to have stalled
> 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.

That's certainly been my perception, in this and some other cases.

We're still waiting, for instance, for Tantek to tell us whether the
evidence *he requested* is sufficient to satisfy his concerns.

I was advised last year, when ready, to say "This should be an official
microformat proposal". I did so on 5 October 2006. What changed, then?
How can it become "an official microformat proposal"?

>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.


>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.

True, but it also reflects the best way to mark up *currently published*
taxonomical names and hierarchies.

> The vocabulary in the proposal isn't plucked out of
>thin-air, though; it is taken from the taxonomic hierarchy as used by

...and that hierarchy is (tin-hat brigade aside) canonical. Any issues
around species splits/ lumping are catered for, but still fall well
within outside the "80/20" cut-off.

> It seems to be modelled on hCard in this respect, hence my
>cowpaths question. My own feeling is that the current proposal is too

Taxonomy is, of necessity, complex. It is therefore necessary to have
equal complexity in a tool which codifies it. That's not to say, though
that it doesn't offer simple uses for cases of simple taxonomy (or
vernacular names) - just as few publishers marking up a simple hCard
need to worry about the 'honorific-suffix' or 'sound' properties.

>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 has always been a cornerstone of the proposal

>This is similar to the way in
>which hCard has a rich vocabulary, but can still be very simple.


Andy Mabbett

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