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XFN Clarifications

XFN is the XHTML Friends Network and is more thoroughly documented on the XFN home page.

This document is for capturing clarifications that should eventually be rolled into the XFN specification.

Tantek Çelik


me nofollow interaction

If a link has the rel value "nofollow", then a "me" rel value DOES NOT indicate an identity relationship.

That is, only rel attributes with the value "me", and WITHOUT the value "nofollow" indicate an identity relationship assertion.

mapping community site "friends"

On community sites, "friends" aren't necessary as much of a friend as in "real life". Social networking sites have watered down the term "friend" quite a bit, especially when you are only given a binary choice, are you my friend yes or no. It is a known phenomenon that users collect such "friendsters" far more than their "real" set of friends. See:

are you my friend yes or no

For community sites which provide only one level of friendship that they call "friend", use rel="acquaintance" as that is much more accurate.

friend or contact

Some sites (like Flickr) provide two levels of friendship, "contact", and "friend". In such cases, use rel="contact", and rel="acquaintance" respectively for the same reasons as above.

friends acquaintances and contacts

Only if the site permits/encourages distinction of acquaintances vs. friends then should the XFN rel="friend" value be used. Ironically, MySpace provides an implicit opportunity for this with their "top 8" distinction which could be mapped to rel="friend", as it is very likely that your top 8 on MySpace are your friends in real life.

questions and discussions

is contact a better lowest common denominator

Q: Is rel="contact" a better lowest common denominator than rel="acquaintance" for services that only offer just one level of friending (AKA "are you my friend yes or no")?

A: The rel="contact" XFN relation is the lowest level of the "friendship" axis in XFN, but the semantic both as expressed by their user interfaces, and as implied by users and their usage patterns of social network services is closer to 'acquaintance' than 'contact'.

handling redirects

Q: "how show redirects be handled?"

A: Redirects should be honored. If A links to B but B redirects to C, it should be treated just as if A linked to B.

See Also

xfn-clarifications was last modified: Tuesday, December 16th, 2008