[uf-new] XFN - Professionals Network microformat

Frances Berriman fberriman at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 06:26:23 PDT 2007

On 26/04/07, Guy Fraser <gfraser at adaptavist.com> wrote:

> Hi Frances,
> Having recently looked in to XFN (and uF's in general) in much more
> depth, I'm not even sure if I can answer your question. Allow me to
> elaborate...
> <can typeof="worms" action="open">
> 1. XFN doesn't fit in to corporate environments...
> XFN can't really be used in corporate environments - in such
> environments the Romantic category would instantly be removed (making it
> a derivative work - see 3) and the remaining categories don't provide
> enough relationships applicable to such environments (eg. client,
> supplier, etc) which are very difficult to add (see 3 and 4).

What would you envision doing with supplier/client etc. type relationships?

> 2. Issues with existing XFN rel's...
> The "muse" should not be in the romantic category, full stop. I've seen
> numerous people asking about this on lists (here and elsewhere) and even
> in the wiki. Each time the simple fact that "muse" doesn't belong in the
> romantic category is dodged by a non-obvious definition of the romantic
> category (especially considering the other things in that category) or
> the topic gets changed to a discussion about "let's talk about the
> Romans...", etc. Why not just move "muse" to a more logical category?
> Again, that would be a derivative work (see 3).

We discussed this in IRC a while back (I don't have time to dig
through the logs) but it was pretty much the consensus that muse IS
mis-categorised as romantic and should be (and is already used as) a
non-romantic relationship to describe anyone who is of inspiration
etc.  The current problem is only that the documentation hasn't been
updated to reflect this better (probably will be done when/if XFN gets
updated as a whole).

> 3. Licensing and patenting issues...
> It is not clear _who_ owns the copyright or patent. Is it
> microformats.org, one of the authors, technorati, etc?

Technorati doesn't own microformats.  I believe most 'formats show a
CC declaration on the appropriate wiki page.

> 4. The community seems restrictive...
> It's not possible to suggest new rel's without research and real-world
> examples but corporates tend not to adopt things unless there's
> something already in place.

This is for good reason though.  It's a system that works and stops
wasted effort on formats that have no purpose/real world usage.   You
don't necessarily have to find the exact value you want already in
use, but you should be able to find scenarios already on the web where
your proposition would work.  It appears to be a really laborious
process (I suppose it is) but it's a safety valve.

> To get corporates to try something, they need to see that others are
> trying it (generally speaking) and that there is some existing community
> drive behind it. But that's not possible because I can't submit ideas to
> XFN until after the corporates have tried it. It's a chicken-and-egg
> situation.

I agree - it is tricky (and I sympathise as someone who works with
large clients who are still 2 years behind).  That's why most trends
tend to be on a non-corporate level first before the big boys want to
play with the ball, I guess.

> 5. I can't find answers to such questions...

> I tried chatting on the IRC channel, but it keeps saying something about
> NickServ and telling me to read the MOTD which in turn contains no
> information (that I can see anyway) on how to use NickServ? I've not
> used IRC before (yeah, tragic, I know) so am stumped on this.

NickServ is a service available on a lot of networks (for managing
usernames/permissions etc), so I guess it was assumed that if you're
using IRC then there's a decent chance you already know how to do it
(visiting freenode.net's site probably has further information on all
their services).

Ping me an email off-list if you want and I'll give you an IRC 101. :)

I'll try and write something up for the wiki too so others can
hopefully get into the IRC channel a little more easily!

> Sorry for the somewhat weird answer to your question, but from
> discussions I've had off-list it seems that many people are having the
> same feelings - the topic of adding new rel's to XFN, or even changing
> existing ones, highlights all of them.

This was a really long email, and I'm not qualified to answer it all
(I'm not so up on licensing issues, for example), so I hope you don't
mind me picking through the parts a little - I'm sure others will step
up and help out on the other areas.

Frances Berriman

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