[uf-discuss] Re: XFN for email addresses?

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Thu Jun 14 11:40:38 PDT 2007

On Jun 14, 2007, at 8:45 AM, Chris Messina wrote:

> I suppose this is where graph theory has to come in to some degree and
> afford immediate lapses as such, for, in the example you described, if
> somewhere there exists a reference, say on theryanking.com, that
> points to that email address using rel-me, we'll be able to apply some
> kind logic that would, in the least, be able to say that that URL has
> laid an unverified claim to that email address.

This is my point– we can't do identity consolidation in this case.  
rel-me requires that we have links going both directions.

> Interestingly, this is, to some degree, the problem that MicroID was
> trying to solve, albeit with hidden meta tags.
> I agree that the lack of transitivity with email "endpoints" make them
> very weak from a claims perspective, and I agree that we can do
> better, but given that Technorati and the like still require a
> verified email address to open an account, I don't see this behavior
> going away anytime soon.

Technorati does not require a verified email address.

> One goal of mine to develop a replacement for those "add friends from
> your address book" widgets, which are so seductive and therefore so
> dangerous. People are being trained to enter their email and password
> on almost every new social network; in the case of Gmail, that
> username/password combo access far more than just your mail (think:
> Google Checkout, web history, etc). This is extremely dangerous. If we
> could instead train people to type in a URL-pointer to their list of
> friends, authenticate remotely, and then pull down the list of
> contacts, including email addresses as necessary, we'd have a much
> safer social web.

I agree that this is a Good Goal (tm), but that doesn't mean that XFN  
alone is the way to do it. In fact here's a better way:

1. User enters url (possible OpenId enabled) to a page that contains  
their contact info and XFN data.
2. The XFN data (rel-friend, rel-colleague) is used to find the list  
of people to import
3. Use rel-me hcard uid, etc to find contact information for the  
people on the list.
4. Import the contact info you find.

Currently this requires a bit of hand waving, but I think we can make  
it work.


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