W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-colloquial@w3.org > November 2011

Re: Group merge?

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2011 17:22:04 +0100
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Cc: public-colloquial@w3.org
Message-ID: <914C8F1C38AC4549A9475D44DE93C7CC@marcosc.com>
(wrong place to be having this discussion, but what the hell…. :) )

On Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 16:37, Manu Sporny wrote:

> Unfortunately, that's a simplification of the current situation. Google
> has their standard that they're pushing (Microdata) and we (W3C and RDFa
> Community) have our standard that we're pushing (RDFa).  

I thought the W3C was to remain neutral on these matters? Are you sure the W3C itself is pushing these standards? I thought they learnt to keep out of these things in the whole XHTML/XHTML2 debacle that brought about the WHATWG (and microdata and micro formats) in the first place?    
> So, it's not
> simply a matter of "democracy" as both are going through the standards
> process. The problem is that when a large company backs one of the
> standards with a "study" and then doesn't release the data or
> methodology.

Google was under no obligation to release anything, so I would be thankful that they did release what little they did. Also, Google (and any other company) is free to back any technology they want. Wether its a W3C specification is irrelevant (IPR of RDF WG VS HTMLWG aside): there is no law that any company needs to use a W3C spec. It's the reason the W3C is a "consortium" and not a real standards body (like ISO, which does have legal implications).   
> In that case, you have a large company (with skin in the
> game) saying "trust us, we have the data"... and a loose community (with
> skin in the game) saying "we'd like to see the data, because it goes
> counter to the data that we have".
> Ultimately, this is about making the right decision in a scientific way.  
Science won't win here, I'm afraid… only the market and rough consensus/running code. One decision can't be seen as more valid than another, there are just technological choices.   

I'm wondering, what will you do if you find Google was right (i.e., 70% people are screwing up RDFa)? And even if you find the opposite, I don't think it will prove much. Remember this is not the first "study" Google has done [1] about this (see my comments at bottom of that page, and my own outrage about that particular "study").  

What might be more interesting (and scientific) is to see how many people screw up RDFa vs Microdata vs Microformats (or other control group). That way, you have a scientific basis on which to draw some valid conclusions from. E.g.,  

Of a sample of 10,000 unique web pages:  

  AA% of people screw up RDFa
  BB% of people screw up Micro-data  
  CC% of people screw up Microformats

And, of course, "screw up" would need to be defined (i.e., invalid format or whatever). Anyway, proving Google wrong won't really settle the matter. It might just come down to implementers personal choice and perception about the technology:  

RDFa == Semantic Web Crap == old boring Academic / Pedantic Web Stuff == too hard == no one cares   
HTML5 == Cool and New == developers like it

That's basically the battle that RDFa and the semantic web is up against.  

[1] http://blog.whatwg.org/usability-testing-html5

Marcos Caceres
Received on Sunday, 20 November 2011 16:22:15 UTC

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