[whatwg] Providing enhanced search results

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Tue May 19 16:48:47 PDT 2009

One of the use cases I collected from the e-mails sent in over the past 
few months was the following:

   USE CASE: Site owners want a way to provide enhanced search results to the
   engines, so that an entry in the search results page is more than just a
   bare link and snippet of text, and provides additional resources for users
   straight on the search page without them having to click into the page and
   discover those resources themselves.

     * For example, in response to a query for a restaurant, a search engine
       might want to have the result from yelp.com provide additional
       information, e.g. info on price, rating, and phone number, along with
       links to reviews or photos of the restaurant.

     * Information for the search engine should be on the same page as
       information that would be shown to the user if the user visited the
     * Parsing rules should be unambiguous.
     * Should not require changes to HTML5 parsing rules.

It seems like Microformats handle this case reasonably well, except for 
the unambiguous parsing rules requirement. RDFa is what has been used by 
Yahoo! and Google so far to get around this problem, but it has a number 
of problems such as high authoring complexity, a close relationship to RDF 
even in cases where RDF isn't desired, a reliance on prefix-based 
declaration mechanisms, and a lack of a DOM-based definition. Microdata 
seems to provide a compromise between the two that could satisfy the same 
use cases, either with custom vocabularies or with community-created 
vocabularies. It would be interested to get public feedback on this from 
search engine vendors, though; are there aspects of RDFa that are 
important here which I have missed?

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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