[uf-discuss] Microformats search engine: virel

Angus McIntyre angus at pobox.com
Mon Jul 7 15:34:13 PDT 2008

Christian Heilmann wrote:
> That's got nothing to do with microformats ...

With due respect, I don't completely accept that. A case could be made
that factors that influence people's adoption of microformats are
legitimate topics for discussion. Uneasiness about the 'spammability' of
addresses published in hCard is a deterrent to full adoption of that
microformat for many users. While these considerations don't belong in the
spec, they can usefully be mentioned in texts about the spec, such as
'getting started' guides.

> ... when you really think
> that any obfuscation like bla dot domain is not indexed by spammers then
> you are in for a treat. There is no way to protect emails online without
> hurting usability or accessibility. Don't waste your time with
> JavaScript (de)obfuscation, it is a glass shield or - even closer - a
> pacifier button.

Again, I'm not in complete agreement with you. My experience - and I have
actually tested this, although not as rigorously or extensively as I'd
like - is that very few spammers seem to be doing much de-obfuscation, and
even trivial obfuscations _currently_ offer a good degree of protection.
However, I don't expect that state of affairs to last, so it's a moot

> What you put in microformats you should be happy with to be put out
> there to be found, indexed and converted. Obfuscated microformats that
> expect the reader technology to convert it before turning it for example
> into a vcard are just a nuisance for the end user.

In the Javascript-based approach that I mentioned, the browser takes care
of everything, with no extra work needed by the reader. However, I concede
that that might not extend to screen readers (although choosing a sane,
human-readable representation for the basic form can help here).

> ... This is about unearthing information we already publish and
> make easier to access and re-use it, which is the opposite of
> obfuscating.

OK, so there's an implicit challenge here. For users who are unwilling to
expose their email address through hCard, what alternative mechanisms can
microformats support? Many website owners use mail forms instead of
publishing their email addresses. Is there a need for something like a
simple 'rel=contactform' microformat to signal the availability and
location of a mail contact form?


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