What are microformats?
The current definition on the home page says:
Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards.
originally written by Dan Cederholm with help from Tantek Çelik for the launch of microformats.org on June 20th, 2005.
From The Mailing List
Microformats are simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development.
from someone on the microformats-discuss mailing list. Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.
More Specifically From The Mailing List
More precisely, microformats can be defined as:
simple conventions for embedding semantic markup for a specific problem domain in human-readable (X)HTML/XML documents, Atom/RSS feeds, and "plain" XML that normalize existing content usage patterns using brief, descriptive class names often based on existing interoperable standards to enable decentralized development of resources, tools, and services
from someone(s) on the microformats-discuss mailing list. Please link/cite if you know the origin of this.
(I'm pretty sure Ernie kicked off this particular definition, and I think helped a little, but I don't remember the specifics. -Tantek)
Microformats are simple codes that you can use to identity specific kinds of data, like people or events, in your webpages.