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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Google Profiles has XFN now [Jun. 24th, 2009|01:38 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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Google Profiles just launched a new feature that's too dorky and obscure to warrant an official "Google blog" blog post, so the product manager on it said, "Brad, you're dorky... you should post it. You do Social Graph API stuff. The right people would read your blog, right?" (roughly)

So sure, I'll blawg it here.

Google Profiles now have XFN rel="me" attributes on links. Again. (It had them briefly for awhile but it was done grossly so they were removed...)

Why is this important? rel="me" links are the glue of your social identity online. They tie together all your sites & accounts, letting other sites know where to find you. (Of course, if you don't want to be found, or have different personas: don't make links between them!). But if you're reading this post you already know all this, so I'll shut up.

How does it work in Google Profiles now? While I don't work directly on Profiles, I sit near them and like to voice opinions on things. So here's the new design, which you can blame me for parts of if you hate it:

  • assume users don't care about rel="me" and it's super dorky.
  • do the best possible right thing by default, but let dorks override it.
  • assume users will use products in ways you didn't imagine (aka "wrong")
  • assume users will add Profiles links to their favorite websites, bands, friends, etc., not just "their" pages on the web.
  • hide the rel="me" choice by default when adding a link
  • show the rel="me" choice if they go back and press "edit" on it
  • track two new bits per-link:
    1. does the user care about rel="me"? (i.e. are they dorky?)
    2. if so, does the user want this link to be rel="me"?
  • when rendering the Profiles page HTML, consider those two bits:
    • if the dork bit is on, use the value of the second bit (whether they chose rel="me" on this link)
    • if the bit is off, just guess. But guess somewhat conservatively. We can adjust these heuristics over time (a lot of which are based on sgnodemapper), as most the links will be in do-not-care mode.

So, my dorky friends, you can now fix the rel="me" state on your links by going to the editor and pressing "Edit" on the links and checking their state. Be sure to hit "Save" at the bottom.


(And keep in mind that the real utility of all this comes later. Consider yourself a dorky earlier adopter.)


[User Picture]From: pyesetz
2009-06-24 09:36 pm (UTC)
But if you're reading this post you already know all this, so I'll shut up.

Actually I didn't, so I guess I'm one of your less dorky readers.  But I'm still a bona fide nerd, DAMMIT!

Thanks for posting this.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_194797
2009-06-25 12:23 am (UTC)
Excellent. I've been meaning to add some actual content to my google profile for a... couple of months, and now I have an actual reason to!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bigellow
2009-06-25 12:40 am (UTC)


...thanks for the heads up on this.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2009-06-25 02:03 am (UTC)
I must be a super dork because I tried this out and the "This profile is about me." checkboxes were already checked.

However, it's more likely that Google is actually good at finding which link is really to one of my profiles. Since the guesses are good, I wouldn't fret about including rel="me" for every link by default.

So yeah, kudos to Google for handling this well.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_102622
2009-06-25 05:32 am (UTC)

XFN is cool!

Not sure why you say it's dorky, XFN is super cool!
(Reply) (Thread)