[uf-discuss] Tentative proposal: Sub-microformats to streamline common microformat patterns for simple data

Guillaume Lebleu gl at brixlogic.com
Thu Jan 3 11:40:38 PST 2008

Andy Mabbett wrote:
> Because they're the most appropriate semantics; 
I don't agree with that, but I'm not going to argue about it.
> and because people are already using the long-hand version of hCard to 
> do so.
> vCard is an electronic business cards standard; hCard is not merely an 
> electronic business cards standard, but already has wider uses.
Ok, I didn't know that. I'm really just raising a warning. I can think 
of at least one discussion here 
that was arguing how one of the wider uses of hCard, particular for 
microformatting narrative content might not be actually a publisher's 
best practice.

In addition, my experience in other communities is that favoring reuse 
over semantic precision can result in very difficult machine processing 
(due to disambiguation requirements), which may defeat the point of 
microformats: reusing the same tag/classname seems good at first, but 
then people realize that a particular tag/classname's meaning depends on 
the context, i.e. what other tags/classnames are present, and the 
processing complexity increases.

While microformats are for humans, I see microformats as a way to reduce 
the costs of "machine reading". If the meaning of a tag/classname is 
highly context-sensitive, then you may end up building the same "$1M 
code" that you would have to build if there was no microformat.
> Are you suggesting that we use different class-names to mark up the 
> same data? That's directly in contravention of the microformat 
> "principles"; and would put more weight back onto the shoulders of 
> publishers.
No. I don't think that's necessary.

I just think that the "John Smith" in your example "...as John Smith 
said in..." is different data than in "My contact information: <br/>John 
Smith <br/>Cell: (415) ...".

I would tag the "John Smith" in your example as an entity name, a 
formatted name, a person's name, a reference to an entity, but not as 
something that is also use for electronic business card. Otherwise, I 
have to look at the context to understand what I'm really supposed to do 
with this information. For instance, a software like tail will have to 
disambiguate between vcards that are merely a person name (and are not 
very valuable in my opinion to export to an address book) and vcards, 
which actually carry contact information.

In other words, my opinion is that a vcard implies a named entity, but a 
named entity does not imply a vcard.

In other words, I would be perfectly happy to simply microformat "...as 
John Smith said in..." as "... as <span class="fn n">John Smith</span> 
said in...". I don't see the value of prefixing fn and n by vcard.

I'm probably missing something though, if so, let me know.
> Who says that that information is one the page in question?
I assume you mean "on the page in question". I'm not saying it is. I'm 
saying that if it is not there, then the "John Smith" in "... as John 
Smith said in..." is not a contact card, but if there is such contact 
information for this person somewhere else on the page, or on a 
different page, then an <href> "... as <a class="fn n" 
href="http://johnsmith.com/home#JohnshCard">John Smith</a> said in..." 
is what would make sense to me.


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