Redirect to IRC
If someone emails you directly, asking about microformats, or making a proposal, if you can answer *quickly* (like a one liner, like "use h-card to markup people and organizations"), then do so, but always redirect them to #microformats chat for discussion. E.g. here's an email template you may use:
Email Template to IRC
Thanks for your interest in microformats!
We're a community based organization, and thus I'd definitely prefer discussing this in our public forum:
If you need help with joining the #microformats forum on Libera, see:
There are community members from all around the world in the forum, which is also logged and read by many others even if offline. Go ahead and ask any questions you want to about microformats there, and someone will likely work with you to figure out the answers!
Thanks again, and see you on #microformats!
Historical Archive of Mailing List Info
Read the microformats discuss page first.
Then read the mailing list policies.
After that please see the following additional notes of scope and topics for each list.
To subscribe to any of the mailing lists discussed below, please see http://microformats.org/discuss/ - here you will find all relevant subscription links, archives and also access to lists you are already subscribed to where you may change the email address you are subscribed with and the level of emails you will receive (all or digest).
Here is a list of general guidelines to follow in microformats list discussions in general. The overall goal of many of these guidelines is to increase the signal to noise ratio on the lists by encouraging signal, and discouraging noise. Maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) is essential to scaling a list membership, and thus as microformats grow in popularity, maximizing S/N becomes more and more important. If you have suggestions for general guidelines, please post them to the microformats-discuss list so that the list-admins may consider your suggestions.
Send plain text email only
The microformats mailing lists are configured to only accept plain text (text/plain) emails.
If you get an error message like:
The message's content type was not explicitly allowed
Change your email client to send text/plain.
For example, in Gmail, you have to go into Settings (under the gear icon menu in the top right), and at the bottom, choose:
Outgoing message encoding:
(*) Use default text encoding for outgoing messages
( ) Use Unicode (UTF-8) encoding for outgoing messages
In addition, if you're using the recently "new" Gmail "Compose" feature, you may have to click the little drop-down arrow button menu to the bottom right of the compose text area, and make sure that
[x] Plain text mode
The microformats.org community is quite different than both other standards organizations and most open source efforts in (at least) one very important way: this community is a much nicer place to be, with people in general treating each other with a lot of respect and benefit of the doubt.
This guideline, which may seem totally obvious, is made explicit because of a few bad examples.
This friendlier tone in the community is something that the community very much values and will fight to defend. The microformats admins will take swift action to ban or moderate individuals who essentially are "jerks" on IRC or any of the lists.
If you see someone being rude, please ask them *privately* to not do so, and if necessary contact one or more of the microformats admins, again privately (feel free to CC them on a single email) pointing out the behavior. Admins will likely respond to rude individuals publicly to make it clear their behavior is not acceptable.
Note: neutral tone emails that use simple logical/rational emotion-free language are perfectly fine. This guideline is not a request to add artificial kindness etc. to emails. Nor is it a discouragement to engage in constructively critical discourse.
Personal attacks are unacceptable and may be given a warning by an admin and then blocking upon any additional instance. See Wikipedia:No personal attacks:
Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks do not help make a point.
Personal Attacks (ad hominem, name-calling, etc.) on one or a set of individuals will be pointed out by the admins, and will likely only receive one warning. Upon a second such personal attack an admin will likely ban the attacking individual.
If you do make a mistake and make a personal attack, consider following-up with a public apology, as doing so demonstrates personal responsibility, good will, and a desire to improve the overall tone of conversations.
Why to avoid negative behaviors
Consider these required reading / viewing for anyone doing community management, especially anyone who wants to be an microformats admins, in order to learn the urgency of both actively discouraging toxic individuals, and building a strong community culture of defending against trolls, and other unproductive individuals:
- Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain by Kathy Sierra
- Smithsonian.com: Choosing Civility in a Rude Culture
- Paul Graham's Gresham's Law of trolls - in short: trolls use forums with thoughtful people, but thoughtful people leave forums with trolls. Thus if a community wants to keep thoughtful people, it must pro-actively ban those that troll.
- How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People - 55 minute Google Tech Talk, 2007-01-25: Summary:
Every open source project runs into people who are selfish, uncooperative, and disrespectful. These people can silently poison the atmosphere of a happy developer community. Come learn how to identify these people and peacefully de-fuse them before they derail your project. Told through a series of (often amusing) real-life anecdotes and experiences.
- Protecting your open source project from poisonous people - blog post about a similar talk
- How to protect your open source project from poisonous people notes referenced from said blog post
- Protecting your open source project from poisonous people - blog post about a similar talk
- Dealing With (Not Dealing With) the Open Source Assholes
- Five Geek Social Fallacies
- The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
The community, as part of its broader positive tone, tries to be fairly patient with folks, and we want to continue to encourage that. The microformats lists will always (assuming continued growth and popularity) get new subscribers, and these new subscribers may be unfamiliar with the customs and conventions of the community. As an experienced member in the community, please be patient with new subscribers, and help them improve their behavior by kindly pointing out relevant guidelines and answers on the wiki. However, if it appears that a newcomer has a negative attitude, please raise it to the attention of the admins (offlist) with an official complaint email that references (by email archive URL) or includes the email that demonstrates the negative attitude. Negativity is the biggest exception - this community has very little patience for negativity (see previous Be nice guideline).
Use real world examples
People often invent completely fictitious (and theoretical) Best Practices for Examples Pages in response to (perhaps rhetorical) questions or to make a point they are trying to make. microformats themselves are based on studying real world examples and designing for real world examples. Thus arguments based on theoretical examples hold much less weight in microformats discussions. Please avoid posting arguments / questions based solely on theoretical examples. [src:A,o].
If a theoretical example seems compelling to you (perhaps others may have brought it up as well), instead of emailing about it, document it on the respective specific microformat's *-brainstorming wiki page, (preferably near the bottom), and explicitly labeled as a "*theoretical example*".
Ask for real world examples
If someone discusses or provides arguments based on theoretical examples, then:
- ask them to provide a real world example with URL(s) and point them to the above guideline.
- ask them to document their theoretical example on the respective specific microformat's *-brainstorming wiki page. Provide a direct link to the *-brainstorming page as a courtesy. Doing so may help reduce the reraising of the same theoretical example.
Use URLs to examples
Please provide URLs to real world examples when possible. This helps to validate that such examples truly are "real world" as they are on the public Web, and provides additional context around the example which might be crucial to understanding it or answering questions about it. [src:A,o]
Ask for URLs to examples
When people do not provide a specific URL to a test case or example, then especially as a developer, PLEASE ask them to provide a specific URL (and cite the previous guideline) rather than attempting to work out how an inline snippet of code might work.
Use the wiki. Summary: Please add any substantial content to the wiki and use email only for referring to the URLs on the wiki accordingly. If you're not sure where to add something, ask in #microformats chat or on the list.
In particular: when providing examples or (re-)raising/opening a discussion on IRC or the mailing lists, please provide a URL to the relevant wiki page which captured the example or state of the discussion previously.
If you can't find the relevant wiki page, ask for it (on #microformats chat or on the microformats-discuss mailing list). If no one can find it, ask for help creating a wiki page for it. Then Put it on the wiki. [src:A,o]
See Wiki is better than email for some background and explanations of how and why the wiki works better than email for content in general (whether issues, brainstorms, etc.).
Read FAQs before asking questions
Especially read relevant/respective FAQs before asking questions. Before asking a question on a microformats list, read the relevant FAQs:
- Start with the general microformats Microformats FAQ
- Then read specific microformats FAQs, e.g. for rel="tag", see the rel-tag FAQ, for adr, see the hCard FAQ as the spec indicates, etc.
Cite URLs to answer questions
When answering questions on a list, cite URL(s) to FAQ answers. Despite the previous guidelines, experience has shown us that there will be time that smart, considerate individuals may attempt to look for an answer on the FAQ, and not find it despite it being there. In such cases, assume that it was a simple unintended oversight (rather than laziness or failure to check the FAQ), and when answering such a question on a microformats list:
- Please check the relevant FAQs first, and if the answer is not there, document the question and your answer there. I.e. Put it on the wiki. This is so that the community memory of answers (especially the most recent and accurate state of answers) is kept and grown in a semi-organized and hopefully easily findable fashion on the wiki, rather than deep in the depths of email archives which are often much more difficult to search, and difficult to tell what answer is "the" most recent, relevant and accurate answer.
- Cite URL(s) FAQ answer(s) (that you may have just written) rather than just writing an answer, when composing your reply in email. This will hopefully encourage more reading of the wiki and thus learning of answers to microformats related questions in general.
Note: when citing URLs, make sure they answer the specific question being asked. For additional advice about providing good "RTFM" messages see JimboJW's blog post: Irresponsible use of RTFM doesn't help anyone.
Raise issues on the wiki not in email
If you find an issue with a microformat, please first read the respective Microformats FAQ and Microformat Issues pages for that microformat before raising the issue. If the issue is already documented on the wiki, please add any new comments there (do not simply repeat statements that others have made, nor repeat your own statements). [src:A]
When someone does raise issues via email, kindly request that they raise issues via the wiki instead, e.g.:
Please capture specific issues regarding a specific microformats on the respective *-issues wiki page rather than email.
If there is a specific issue that applies to several microformats (e.g. class microformats) add it to:
Point out reraised issues and redirect follow up to the wiki
When someone does (re-)raise an issue via email that is already on the wiki, rather than arguing the issue in email, point out that the issue is already documented on the wiki (preferably with a URL to the issue, add a fragment identifier if necessary), and ask them to follow-up on the wiki, e.g.:
Note that this is an already documented issue:
Please add any follow-up there rather than in email.
This will hopefully end the thread and thus avoid further email on a topic that is already documented on the wiki.
Reply to email followups to issues with request to use wiki instead
When someone debates/follows-up to an issue via email (rather than doing the above and requesting that the issue be documented in email), request to the person following-up to please add their follow-up to the wiki instead (even if that means also adding the original issue), e.g.:
Please follow-up to issues raised in email by directing folks to raise issues on the respective *-issues wiki page rather than following-up to issues in email.
Avoid wasting others time by sending a lot of email
Historically a few individuals have overloaded some of the microformats mailing lists with a lot of email. As each individual email costs time for everyone on the list, this is quite inconsiderate and should be avoided. Here are a few ways (but certainly not all ways) to avoid wasting others' time with too much email. [src:A]
In general, if you find yourself sending more than one message in a row to *any* of the microformats lists, you are probably doing something wrong. Give others a chance to read/consider/reply to your messages one at a time. If you have a lot to say, you should instead be capturing your thoughts on the appropriate wiki page(s) per above guidelines, and simply referencing relevant URLs in *optional* notification messages to the list. [src:A]
Avoid replying to yourself to reraise a topic
Especially avoid replying to yourself just to reraise a topic. Please avoid replying to yourself just to "ping" the mailing list or to ask for an update or advice. Especially avoid making assumptions / conclusions simply from the lack of a reply to you or your points. If you really think the issue is of merit, add it to the relevant Microformat Issues page and just wait for it to be resolved. [src:A]
Avoid wasting others time with simple contradictory email
Similar to the how to play guideline to avoid simple contradictory responses, please avoid replying to statements made in email with nothing more than simple contradictions. Simple contradictions (like just inverting another statement as if such an inversion was an argument), both do not add anything useful to a discussion, and worse, only add noise which wastes space and everyone's time, and are thus to be avoided. E.g.:
Original statement: "It's not really got much support of tools that support it and do something useful with it".
Simple contradiction: "There *is* support and there *are* tools, not least in the fields for which it was intended."
The contradiction example provided no new information that could argue against the original statement. It is no better than endless loops of "Yes it is. No it isn't. Yes it is. No it isn't.".
Instead, provide at least a short sentence with a reason which provides information beyond what is provided, such as a specific piece of information and a URL. E.g.
Better follow-up statement: "There are tools that support it, for example application XYZ, available at http://example.com/xyz ."
Avoid sending one message per issue raised
If you add multiple issues to a microformats issues page, and wish to announce that you did so, please only send at most one email announcing the batch of issues you added and note the URL of the issue page on the wiki, rather than sending one email per issue. Direct people to the wiki to follow-up on your issues, rather that encouraging threads of conversation/discussion per issue on the email list.
Avoid logical flaws
Point out logical flaws
Responding to rude emails
We need everyone's help to keep the community civil and friendly (see be nice above, however, sometimes someone will say something rude on the email list. In such cases it is useful to have a set of pre-written responses to make it easier to deal with. See:
A mailing list for general discussion of microformats, with a strong leaning towards:
- starting out with microformats
- real-world content authoring
Good topics for discussion
Here is a list (certainly not definitive) of good topics which are appropriate for the microformats-discuss mailing list:
- general thoughts on the design and use of semantic XHTML markup
- how to use and write microformats in content
- how to use microformat design patterns in content
Good topics that belong somewhere else
Bad topics for discussion
AKA topics better discussed elsewhere (somewhere other than microformats.org).
Here is a list (also not definitive) of topics which are undesired and inappopriate for the microformats-discuss mailing list. In fact, they're not even worth the time to bother discussing, so please do not bring them up on the microformats-discuss mailing list. We'll add more topics as people come up with more off-topic or out-of-scope or rathole topics.
- How to make a "general purpose" (micro)format. Go read what microformats are not, actually, go read the entire principles page. Sometimes this may masquerade as a "format of formats". Either way, it is one of those boil the ocean ratholes which are far outside the focus of microformats. If you really want to work on such subjects, teach yourself DTD (SGML, XML), XML Schema, Relax NG, RDF Schema, and find the communities working on those technologies.
- Using namespaces and namespace prefixes. In short, namespaces are neither necessary (the Internet ran just fine without them for decades, go read some RFCs), nor desirable (prefixes make formats far uglier and more difficult to hand-code). See also namespaces considered harmful.
- Using non-English names for properties. This was briefly discussed on the microformats-discuss list most recently as "Language Maps" but has been raised before that. Some folks have raised the issue that microformats use English names for properties, and they would like alternate (non-English) names in other (natural) languages, and perhaps try to establish a mapping between them. As microformats property names are based on existing standards (see The microformats process, and Naming Principles), this is another problem that is far outside the scope of microformats. As Ryan King put it, this is a pre-existing (unsolved) "problem" with English-based HTML, the English-based CSS, the English-based HTTP and so on. Note that this is NOT about the internationalization (i18n) of the content and data itself - which is of course an excellent goal, advocated and promoted by microformats and the standards they are based on (e.g. W3C, IETF). This is purely about the names of the properties (and enumerated values) in the formats.
For discussion of microformats development, with a leaning towards:
- anything that involves writing code
- abstractions / models (in contrast to actual content)
Good topics for discussion
These tend to be topics that belong in microformats-dev instead of microformats-discuss. This list is also not definitive, but illustrates the general areas:
- microformat parsing
- microformat "(auto)-discovery"
- comparisons of microformats with other data abstractions or data representations (e.g. XML, RDF)
- compatibility/interoperability of microformats with other data abstractions or data representations
Formerly, the membership to this list was moderated and limited to people who had demonstrated public implementations of microformats. We've since relaxed this requirement, yet maintain the same expectations that people involved in the discussion are focused on concrete and pragmatic topics related to writing code using microformats.
For discussion of use of microformats with REST, in protocols, services, APIs etc.
This list is for the discussion, exploration and development of new microformats.
This list was created in February 2007  to reduce the new microformat development noise on the microformats-discuss list, and allow those that are interested in exploring new microformats to concentrate their efforts.
Specific posting guidelines
- Make sure you have read and fully understand the The microformats process and have already made your website posh and have used existing microformats as much as you can.
- Make an effort to search the mailing list archives and the wiki to see if your suggestion has already been made, or is closely related to something in existance. It may be more advisable to build on previous work. See also rejected-formats.
- Be ready to show plenty of examples of what you're trying to achieve and what real problems you're trying to resolve in the first instance. Suggested formats should expect a certain amount of interrogation about the aim of a new microformat - this shouldn't be taken as negative feedback, or taken personally!
- Please make a note of any suggested new microformats that do not make it through the The microformats process on the rejected-formats wiki page, along with a link to the discussion and the suggested resolution.
Good topics for discussion
- Discussion on how to re-use existing microformats for "new" uses.
- Discussion on extension of existing microformats syntax
- Discussion of the The microformats process
- Development of brand new microformats, adhering to the The microformats process
Bad topics for discussion
All microformats-discuss bad topics for discussion are also bad topics for microformats-new as well. In addition:
new microformat hXYZ
- "proposal for a new microformat: hXYZ" - especially if as your first post. Don't send a proposal email as your first email. You're likely to not get very far. In particular, it's also bad form to prematurely name a microformat hXYZ or whatever as well. See Naming consideration. And re-read the entire process.
- email response template: when someone makes a "proposal for a new microformat: hXYZ", kindly reply with something like:
Please read: http://microformats.org/wiki/process before proposing any new microformats. In addition, please read the specific posting guidelines for microformats-new: http://microformats.org/wiki/mailing-lists#microformats-new
new microformat hPreviousFormatProposal
- "proposal for a new microformat: hPreviousFormatProposal". This is a particular common variant of the previous bad topic for discussion. Please do not propose a microformat simply based upon taking some PreviousFormatProposal (like some random XML or RDF format proposal) and turning it into class names. While re-using an existing format (or proposal, or portion thereof) for vocabulary for a microformat may be part of developing a microformat (see The microformats process), it is insufficient.
- email response template: when someone makes a "proposal for a new microformat: hPreviousFormatProposal", in addition to the above email response template requesting that they read the The microformats process and list guidelines, kindly reply with something like:
Simply proposing a set of class names is not a microformat (again, see /wiki/process/) - at best it is a poshformat. http://microformats.org/wiki/poshformat
If you are unsure about any of guidelines, or have any other list-specific issues, you are welcome to email the list admins, e.g. for microformat-discuss: email microformats-discuss-owner at microformats dot org.
Help Redirect Topics
If you notice a topic being discussed in one list which would be more appropriate for another list (e.g. discussion of a developer topic like "parsing" in the microformats-discuss list), you can help encourage better list usage by redirecting the thread to the more appropriate list with a gentle reminder at the top, e.g.:
Please redirect discussions of "parsing" and other development related/centric topics to the microformats-dev list per:
How to search the mailing list archives
If your post to the list starts off "I'm new to the list and microformats so I don't know if you've discussed this already" READ THROUGH THE ARCHIVES!
The archives are getting larger, so here are a few simple ways you can search them. Most popular search engines imploy some sort of site based results filtering. Google does this in your initial search. Type "site:http://microformats.org/discuss/ <search terms here>" to limit the search results to only our discussion list. This will help you from asking a question that has already been posted, debated, and possibly resolved. It saves everyone time and energy!
For the record, view our proposals for a new mailing list for discussing the research and creation of new microformats (see "microformats-new" above) so that those discussions do not overwhelm microformats-discuss.
Items regarding the mailing lists that didn't fit anywhere else.