[uf-discuss] XFN and hCards

Ryan King ryan at technorati.com
Thu Dec 22 15:14:37 PST 2005

On Dec 22, 2005, at 1:58 PM, David Osolkowski wrote:

> In XFN Delusions of Grandeur[1], Jennifer Golbeck argues that XFN  
> isn't very useful because it annotates links between web pages, not  
> people.  Ok, so how do we make XFN link people?

First of all, see the discussion here: http://www.microformats.org/ 

> There are two people involved, a source and a target.  To identify  
> the source, a page with XFN links should include an <address>  
> element, which identifies the author of the page.  The <address>  
> element should contain an hCard, which--to my knowledge--is the  
> best method we have for representing a person in (X)HTML.

I think you'll find a lot of agreement on that around here.

> Identifying the target is a little more complicated.  Generally, we  
> should check the linked page for an <address> element, and assume  
> that linking to a page means relating to the author of that page.

I'm not sure what you mean by the last part above.

> If that assumption is incorrect, the source could link directly to  
> an hCard ( i.e. http://www.example.com/page.html#hCard).  This  
> requires the hCard to have an id, which makes things a bit  
> trickier; what should the source do if the hCard does not have an  
> id?  When publishing hCards, how do you know whether they'll need  
> ids?  Is this situation within the 80%?

You can certainly use XFN links to link directly to people's hCards.

But, honestly, I think the two concerns: 1) annotating social  
connections and 2) identifying people are separate concerns in terms  
of formats/technology.

XFN and hCard do different things. Together they can be very useful,  
but "identifying authors of pages" is a concern that stands on its  
own, apart from XFN.

> Basically, I'm proposing some best practices for using XFN with  
> hCards that seem to improve the semantics, without needing to  
> invent anything new.  If we agree on these practices, they should  
> be explained on the XFN website.

I don't know if it needs to be explained on gmpg.org. Perhaps someone  
could start a wikipage to document these best practices?

Just remember that just because two technologies get lumped together  
in an application doesn't mean they should be conflated in their  

Ryan King
ryan at technorati.com

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