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Nofollow Makes it Into HTML5 Specification

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HTML5 appeared as first working draft at the World Wide Web Consortium.

 Partially, XHTML2 made more sense to me (e.g. a simple <h> instead of <h1>, <h2> and so on could be used for headings, accompanied by a <section> element… and RSS features were integrated right into the document). We’ll have to see where the W3C wants to go – and then wait some years for browsers to actually implement any of this… and then wait for those browsers to be reasonably deployed.

Right now, this Alpha specification seems to try to acknowledge some web realities (like an <article> element for typical blogs, called “Web logs” in the draft), while ignoring others (for instance, elements like <address> are still included even though they remain to be largely ignored by web authors even after years). It’s a bit of a manifesto – written in rather non-accessible language, in good W3C tradition – trying to merge different “HTML religions” (e.g. Plain Old HTML vs XHTML/ XML), so many aspects of it are merely of religious interest it seems. At one point, this aspect is even made explicit when the draft says (my emphasis):

Though it has absolutely no effect and no meaning, the html element, in HTML documents, may have an xmlns attribute specified, if, and only if, it has the exact value “http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”. … In HTML, the xmlns attribute has absolutely no effect. It is basically a talisman. It is allowed merely to make migration to and from XHTML mildly easier.

Interestingly enough, the “nofollow” attribute value for links – originally introduced by several search engines, including Google (nofollow was only used a document’s meta section before that) – has made it into the specification, along with a couple of other values. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the two editors listed for the document is Ian Hickson, who works at Google. Quote from the draft:

  • “The nofollow keyword may be used with a and area elements. The nofollow keyword indicates that the link is not endorsed by the original author or publisher of the page.”
  • “The noreferrer keyword may be used with a and area elements. If a user agent follows a link defined by an a or area element that has the noreferrer keyword, the user agent must not include a Referer HTTP header (or equivalent for other protocols) in the request.”
  • “The search keyword may be used with link, a, and area elements. … The search keyword indicates that the referenced document provides an interface specifically for searching the document and its related resources.”
  • “The help keyword may be used with link, a, and area elements. … For a and area elements, the help keyword indicates that the referenced document provides further help information for the parent of the element defining the hyperlink, and its children.”
  • “The license keyword may be used with link, a, and area elements. For link elements, it creates a hyperlink. The license keyword indicates that the referenced document provides the copyright license terms under which the current document is provided.”
  • “The archives keyword indicates that the referenced document describes a collection of records, documents, or other materials of historical interest.”
  • “The feed keyword indicates that the referenced document is a syndication feed.”

[Via Martin Porcheron at Friendfeed.]

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Nofollow Makes it Into HTML5 Specification
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