[uf-discuss] 2 billion hCards! gathering material for a "microformats.org turns 5" blog post

Toby Inkster mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Thu Jul 8 02:47:02 PDT 2010

On Thu, 8 Jul 2010 01:25:03 -0700
Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:

> If there are problems with Twitter's hCards, please document the
> specific problems on the respective issues page that way we can better
> verify the problem report(s), investigate possible causes, and suggest
> fixes to Twitter as well.

It's been documented on the Wiki since 2007.


> My understanding of RDF(a) advocates is that one of the design
> principles of RDF(a) is its infinite extensibility and philosophy of
> encouraging everyone to make up their own vocabulary (which is often
> contrasted with microformats opposite design principle of deliberate
> re-use of shared vocabularies for better interoperability and
> communication).

I wouldn't say that RDF encourages everyone to make up their own
vocabulary, but that it makes it feasible.

> Google using their own RDFa vocabulary is a direct consequence of this
> principle/philosophy of RDF(a)/namespaces etc., and thus if there's a
> problem with that approach, it merely calls into question that
> principle/philosophy of RDF(a)/namespaces.

There's no problem with Google making up their own RDF vocabulary.

The problem is counting the number of uses of their own vocabulary on
the Web, taking that number and claiming it as representative of RDFa
deployment as a whole.

> The counter-argument is that perhaps it is/was a case of simultaneous
> invention, which I would prefer to give more weight to, except that
> the microformats introduction of rel-license was explicitly
> discussed/mentioned afterwards on the Creative Commons mailing list[3]
> where many related subsequent RDF discussions were had:
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/cc-metadata/2004-February/000290.html

If you go back a further three months you'll see this thread:


Cory Nelson wrote:

| I propose sites under a CC license include a meta tag in their header
| saying so.  Though this won't help people recognize the content as
| being under a CC license, it could help search engines greatly.
| Here is an example:
| <meta name="license"
| content="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/1.0/" />

And Lucas Gonze followed up with:

| It would also work to have a "link rel=" element

So the seed of the idea had been around since before the microformat
proposal. Certainly the microformat proposal solidified the idea, but
it's not inconceivable that when rel=license was proposed to be added
to XHTML2 (the metadata parts of which evolved into RDFa), Ben Adida was
drawing from earlier ideas, and possibly unaware of the microformat.


It's worth noting that before "license" was added to the XHTML2 link
relations vocabulary, the term "license" was already defined in both
Creative Commons' and Dublin Core's vocabularies, in the former case
since 2008. Ben's proposal seems not so much inspired by the
microformats use, but rather to move the term "license" out of Creative
Commons' namespace to help clarify that it may be used to point to
non-CC licenses too.

Toby A Inkster
<mailto:mail at tobyinkster.co.uk>

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