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:
- danah boyd's paper: "Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites" for more on this behavior.
- 2007-09-10 Facebook study reveals users 'trophy friends' by Roger Highfield and Nic Fleming
- 2007-09-11 Online friends 'not as close as real ones' by Matt Chapman, vnunet.com
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="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'.