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XFN Issues


These are issues about XFN with broadly varying degrees of merit. Thus some issues are REJECTED for a number of obvious reasons (but still documented here in case they are re-raised), and others contain longer discussions. Some issues may be ACCEPTED and perhaps cause changes or improved explanations in the spec.

IMPORTANT: Please read the xfn-faq before giving any feedback or raising any issues as your feedback/issues may already be resolved/answered. Submitted issues may (and probably will) be edited and rewritten for better terseness, clarity, calmness, rationality, and as neutral a point of view as possible. Write your issues well. — Brian

Please add new issues to the top of the list. Please follow-up to resolved/rejected issues with new information rather than resubmitting such issues. Duplicate issue additions will be reverted.

Closed Issues

Resolved issues that have no further actions to take. These will likely be moved to a separate page like xfn-issues-closed.

Resolved Issues

Issues that are resolved but may have outstanding to-do items. As issues are resolved, they will be moved from the top of the Issues list to the bottom of this section.


    1. A question came up about fragment identifiers on the OpenID list. Does the presence of a fragment identifier have any impact on an identity URL in XFN.
      • Resolved FAQ. XFN doesn't define how to process a part of a page, only an entire page.
    1. Does the presence of a query string have any impact on an identity URL in XFN.
      • Resolved FAQ. Well, if you want to follow web architecture, all urls are opaque, so it doesn't matter whether the URL has a query string or not, so no, the presence of a query string has no impact on an identity URL in XFN.


    1. XFN values lack gender-specificity (e.g. "spouse" rather than "husband" or "wife"; "parent" rather than "father" or "mother"). This may limit their usefulness in, for example, genealogy (unless an alternative method of expressing gender is found).
      • REJECTED BY DESIGN. See http://gmpg.org/xfn/background#gender for explanation. Gender should be represented as part of a profile / person description, either as an extension to hCard or as a separate gender microformat.
        • Per the process, where is the evidence that people publish links using terms like "parent", rather than "mother" or "father" ? Andy Mabbett 12:57, 2 Feb 2008 (PST)
          • Per the process and the principles any references to mother and/or father were simplified (see microformat principle as simple as possible) to simply "parent", as well as removing the unnecessary binding of gender information which makes more sense to keep in one place (with the profile of the person) rather than duplicating across every link (and thus violating the DRY principle). Tantek 12:37, 5 Feb 2008 (PST)
          • I'd like to second Tantek's argument. The object of the rel-value should maintain the current gender state (as a design principle, if the gender changes, the change should be reflected on the profile, not in the relationship; gender should have no bearing on the kin/parent relationship). Chris Messina 3:42, 3 Oct 2008 (PST)



  • accepted issue! 2007-10-24 raised by Mark Ng
    1. How to express automatically generated user relationships in XFN (f.e those gleaned from the Facebook API) ?
      • ACCEPTED. To-do - examine the Facebook API to see if it returns any information about the nature of the relationship and then choose respective XFN values accordingly.


    1. Apparently experience with XFN crawling tools has shown that there are non-trivial instances in the wild of rel="parent" that don't mean the XFN definition (e.g. on http://Tv.com ). We need a way to distinguish the XFN rel-parent from the non XFN uses. A few possibilities:
      • If there is a reference to the XFN 1.0 or 1.1 XMDP profile in the head element, then uses of rel="parent" have the XFN meaning.
      • Otherwise, require hCard at the from (where the hyperlink is, to make it clear that it is a link to a person) OR at the destination (thus making it clear that the destination is a person) for the XFN rel-parent relation.
        • Alternatively, extend XFN to use rel="mother" and rel="father". Andy Mabbett 00:07, 30 Jan 2008 (PST)
          • REJECTED DUPLICATE. The proposal for "mother" and "father" has been made many times and rejected. Repeating it is simply wasting time/space. Please stop reproposing it. Tantek 12:37, 5 Feb 2008 (PST)
            • Reopened. Rejected by whom? When? On what grounds? This is not a duplicate, since the proposal is made in response to the newly-identified problem of the overloading of "parent". Andy Mabbett 14:30, 5 Feb 2008 (PST)
      • Probably because drafts of HTML 4.0 included rel="parent", rel="child", and rel="sibling" to indicate relationships between documents. These were dropped from the final version, but do seem to be used here and there. These original meanings are supported by the LinkToolbar for Firefox.
  • open issue! 2008-02-01 raised by Tantek
    1. rel-me injection. If a site allows 3rd parties to enter markup into their pages, it may be possible for a 3rd party to enter a hyperlink, perhaps even a hyperlink with a rel attribute, which would enable errant rel-me links. No such known example exists, but the issue has been raised as a possibility, since such sites (or web site software) might exist. If any example is found, please add them to rel-me-injection-sites.
  • open issue! 2008-02-18 raised by TobyInk
    1. The XFN meaning of rel="contact" conflicts with the HTML5 definition: "Gives a link to contact information for the current document."
      • Andy Mabbett: Anecdotally; I see lots of pages with links marked "contact xxx", where "xxx" is "us", "me" or the name of the organisation owning the page concerned (Google finds about 3,590,000,000 for "contact us").
        • TobyInk: Yes, the HTML 5 definition certainly seems more generically useful.
      • Ryan King: I've given this feedback to the HTML-WG already. Ian Hickson, one of the editors, has said he'll address it in HTML5.
        • Recent drafts of HTML 5 have removed the conflicting meaning of rel="contact" for now.


Consider using this format (copy and paste this to the end of the list to add your issues; replace ~~~ with an external link if preferred) to report issues or feedback, so that issues can show up in hAtom subscriptions of this issues page. If open issues lack this markup, please add it.

Please post one issue per entry, to make them easier to manage. Avoid combining multiple issues into single reports, as this can confuse or muddle feedback, and puts a burden of separating the discrete issues onto someone else who 1. may not have the time, and 2. may not understand the issue in the same way as the original reporter.

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* <strong class="entry-title">«Short title of issue»</strong>. «Description of Issue»
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xfn-issues was last modified: Sunday, April 7th, 2013