These are stories from the micformats-discuss mailing list, where users characterize why exactly they find microformats so useful and compelling.
My personal interest in microformats stems from my general laziness and love of conformity. I don't want to have to think about how to mark something up all the time. I think Microformats can go a long way towards standardizing how we mark up particular pieces of data... I work at a company that has a huge collection of developers spread all over the world. If I can tell all of them, "Hey, you should mark a review or search result or list of blog posts this way, and heres' the documentation," they'll be more likely to do that, and we'll have an easier time maintaining and "discovering" that content.
Organization web page
I'm responsible for the website for an informal group at work. The HTML I inherited was a horrible mess, and painful to maintain. I realized that it was pretty much just a list of events, people, and resources. So, just to avoid having to think about HTML design, I turned the whole thing into a bunch of XOXO, hCards, and hEvents. Then, in order to make it look the way I wanted, I just added (or often, stole:-) appropriate style declarations.
Could I have done this without microformats? Actually, no. You might, but I couldn't. Microformat was the crutch to help me think intelligently about CSS. As a bonus, I can now use all these funky tools to extract vCards -- and show the entire site as a presentation. Cool!
Custom application format
One of my side projects is working on a program to display lyrics for sing-a-longs (i.e., church worship services). I was experimenting with a bunch of different XML schemas, but a) I wasn't sure I had it right, and b) there was no way I could imagine getting a lot of people to adopt it.
Then I discovered S5. I suddenly realized that XOXO was the perfect format for encoding lyrics (stanzas, lines, etc.). It is so obviously *right* that it is trivial to evangelize, rather than arguing over every last tag. It is flexible, so people can add their own metadata if needed, and socialize them informally rather than having to push them through a central standard (which I'd have to maintain, ugh). It is also non-intimidating, so people who know HTML but not XML (believe me, there's a lot of them) are comfortable adopting it.
Not bad. But wait, there's more! This also means: ## There's a trivial way to view every file (browser), even without my app ## Design can be done using CSS, meanings trivial to customize -- i don't need to provide a tool ## I can reuse the existing HTML viewing tools on my platform
At this point, I literally cannot imagine tackling any web site or application format problem withOUT leveraging existing microformats. It is the shortest route to success for the kinds of things *I* care about. Where getting an 80% solution out - now- is the most important thing. If you slice the 80/20 correctly, it is actually only the top 5% of customers who ever actually run into the tough edge cases. The long tail rarely cares -- certainly not enough to pay the added cost.
Its kinda like optimizing source code. Its better to write it first then optimize the hotspots, than try to pre-optimized what you
- think* the problems will be.