[uf-discuss] XFN for email addresses?

Chris Messina chris.messina at gmail.com
Tue Jun 12 20:15:33 PDT 2007

While I've resisted the temptation so far, it does seem that, in order
to build a relevant and useful cross-social networking tool -- I need
a way to use email addresses as well as URLs to identify people. In
particular, you'll notice that most social networks currently (and
unfortunately) ask you to login to your webmail accounts (Gmail,
Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to discover whether your contacts are already on
the site and if not, to invite them via email. Clearly without a
widespread way to message people via their URLs, this is the only
reliable method to invite people to join whatever the latest social
network is.

I'm not here to critique the behavior but instead to recognize what
the market currently accepts and treats as acceptable.

I created a simple XFN aggregating application, it occurs to me that
adding email addresses, both for the purpose of rel-me links and for
contact links is actually useful and something that should be
supported in XFN (it's currently not clear whether this is acceptable
or not; I'm making the case that it should be).

Therefore, this:

<a href="mailto:buddy at foo.com" rel="contact">Buddy</a>

should be as acceptable as this:

<a href="http://foo.com/buddy" rel="contact">Buddy</a>

And, on http://foo.com/buddy, this should be permissible:

<a href="mailto:buddy at foo.com" rel="me">Buddy</a>

Clearly the biggest issue I see with this scheme is the inability to
link out *from* the email address. However, I'm not sure that this
case nullifies the utility of such links.

Thoughts are welcome.


Chris Messina
Citizen Provocateur &
  Open Source Advocate-at-Large
Work: http://citizenagency.com
Blog: http://factoryjoe.com/blog
Cell: 412 225-1051
Skype: factoryjoe
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