representative hCard

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This page is for keeping track of the representative hCard effort, which is part of hcard-brainstorming, specifically to figure out how to both explicitly specify and discover the representative hCard for a page.

problem statement

Given a URL, how do you determine which hCard is the representative hCard for that page?

Longer: Given a URL to a page that represents a person (e.g. an hCard supporting user profile), how do you determine which hCard on that page is the hCard for that person?

how to

Ok I get it, show me how to both publish and find the representative hCard for a person on a page.

use cases

What are the real world use cases, applications, for auto-discovery of the representative hCard for the page?

  • social-network-portability, in particular import or preferably subscribe to a person's hCard.
    • profile icon discovery (e.g. what people use gravatar for and have proposed pavatar for). This appears to just be a subset of the profile import/subscribe use case and is thus listed as a nested use case.
  • representative vCard auto extraction from the page. given a page representing a person, if you can determine the representative hCard on the page, you can convert that hCard to a vCard automatically and aggregate it into an address book service or application.


  • should leverage current hCard information publishing patterns
  • should not require any additional user interface elements (i.e. links) on any hCard supporting user profiles.
  • should not use any hidden metadata on the page
  • should not use any hidden side files (e.g. random XML)


Methodology for a solution: The preferred option is to use only visible semantic HTML (POSH).



This question has also been asked as:

  • What is the authoritative hCard for a page?
  • What is the authority of hCards on a page?
  • hCard authority?


The representative hCard is merely the hCard that provides information about the person that the page represents.

It is NOT:

  • contact for the page. similarly, the person a page represents is usually the person to contact for/about the page. as documented in the hCard FAQ, the contact for a page SHOULD be marked up with an <address> hCard.
  • author hCard. typically the person that a page represents is also the author of the page. possible (theoretical until someone finds/cites real world) examples: biographies, e.g. a page that represents person A is authored by person B.
  • owner hCard. more often than not, the person that a page represents is also the person that owns (meaning has primary control over, in the property sense) the page.

"representative hCard", "contact hCard", "author hCard", and "owner hCard" are all different semantics and can be different people for any given page, even if for many pages some or all of them might be the same person.

For more on these semantic distinctions, see hcards-and-pages.

see also