[whatwg] Trying to work out the problems solved by RDFa

Toby A Inkster mail at tobyinkster.co.uk
Sat Jan 3 16:13:23 PST 2009

Calogero Alex Baldacchino wrote:

> My concern is: is RDFa really suitable for everyone and for Web
> automation? My own answer, at first glance, is no. That's because  
> RDF(a)
> can perhaps address nicely very niche needs, where determining how  
> much
> data can be trusted is not a problem, but in general misuses AND
> deliberate abuses may harm automation heavily

If your agent isn't going to trust the data gleaned from RDFa, then  
why should it trust the data gleaned from the web page's natural  
language? If the page has been authored by a reprobate that cannot be  
trusted to put honest and correct data in a few RDFa attributes, why  
should we trust their prose text?

An oft-quoted answer is that the prose text is "visible" whereas the  
RDFa is somehow "invisible". Apart from the fact that UIs which make  
use of data pulled in from RDFa will make this data visible, there is  
also the fact that RDFa, unlike an external RDF/XML file, or some  
metadata embedded in a <script> block, makes use of as much visible  
data as possible: visible links, visible text, etc.

	<p>My name is <span property="foaf:name"
	  about="#me">Toby Inkster</span>.</p>

If you can't trust someone to correctly mark up what their name is,  
then why trust them to mark up what deserves <em>phasis? Why believe  
the <address> they provide? What if the instance they marked up with  
<dfn> is not really the defining one? What if a <var> is really a  

Toby A Inkster
<mailto:mail at tobyinkster.co.uk>

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