Wednesday, 19 January 2005
On How Google Fixed Comment Spam
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this was how it was done. Google has added an HTML rel attribute value unilaterally (OK, they did co-ordinate with a few blog product vendors).
Authors may wish to define additional link types not described in this specification. If they do so, they should use a profile to cite the conventions used to define the link types. Please see the profile attribute of the HEAD element for more details.
In an ideal world, Google would have worked with the W3C, looping in the rest of the community, and consulted on the name of the value, put together a profile, and published a standard.
In the real world, they used their tremendous market power to establish a mini-de facto standard, and it works; the profile (and maybe even a consensus standard) will undoubtedly follow, when enough people have a need to have it done right (realising that those people probably won’t work for Google).
In fact, going down that path may have been the worst thing they could have done; it would have taken even longer (!) and they would have scared a lot of users — who don’t know the first thing about HTML profiles — away.
That’s not the way to say that it’s always the best way; all we need to do is to look back to BLINK and all of the other pain surrounding HTML not too long ago. It’s just important to realise the differences between innovation, market adoption and standardisation. They’re all related, but there is no “right” or pre-determined path between them.