[uf-discuss] Has the cowpath for these XFN values faded away: friend, co-worker, muse, etc?

Tom Morris bbtommorris at gmail.com
Wed Mar 19 16:21:47 PST 2008

On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 4:18 PM, Costello, Roger L. <costello at mitre.org> wrote:
>  This puzzles me.  Microformats are about paving existing cowpaths.  I
>  presume the authors of XFN saw a clear cowpath for not only "contact"
>  and "me", but for all the other XFN values, such as "friend",
>  "co-worker", "muse", etc.  Has the cowpath for these later values
>  disappeared, and thus are no longer needed?

"Pave the cowpaths" does not imply "unpave unused roads". Removing XFN
predicates doesn't seem like it has any actual value. Some additional
values that aren't being widely used doesn't hurt anybody - and they
*are* being used by individual authors. On my blog, and on many other
blogs, people who hand-code HTML are inserting XFN rel values beyond
me and contact.

What criteria should there be for 'unpaving'? I'd suggest something
similar to the following:
- if the continued use of the pattern is dangerous, or could lead to
bad effects overall, such as security or accessibility problems
- if a broadly satisfactory alternative approach has been created that
has significant advantages over the existing solution, and the
existing solution is actively preventing the new solution from working
- if it leads to significant confusion or usability concerns among it's users

I don't think that removing any of the XFN values has any benefit. I
think Chris is right in saying that for the specific case of social
networks of the sort derived from the Friendster/MySpace/Flickr type,
it may be more sensible to focus on promoting contact and me than
worrying too much about the others. But I use friend, acquaintance,
met and colleague too. Is that a big problem? I say no.

Tom Morris

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