This Time Self-Hosted
dark mode light mode Search

Stop inventing a new ontology for each service!

Last month I wrote a post noting who makes use of semantic data for the web in particular pointing out that Facebook, Google, Readability and Flattr all use different way to provide context to the content: OpenGraph,, hNews and their own version of microformats respectively.

Well, NewsBlur – which, even though I criticized for the HTTP implementation, is still my best suggestion for a Google Reader replacement, if anything because it’s open source even though it’s a premium service – seems to come up with its own way to get semantic data.

The FAQ for publishers states that you can use one of a number of possible selectors to provide NewsBlur with an idea of how your content is structured — completely ignoring the fact that already includes all the structure, and it would be relatively easy to get that data explicitly. Even better, since NewsBlur has a way to show public comments within the NewsBlur interface it would be possible for it to display the comments on the post themselves, as they are also tagged and structured with the same ontology. I’ve opened an idea about it — hopefully somebody, if not the author, will feel like implementing this.

But this is by far not limited to NewsBlur! While Readability added a special case for my blog so that it actually gets the right data out of it, the content guide still only describe support for the hNews format, even though has all the same data and more. And Flattr, well, still does not seem to care about getting data via semantic information — the best match would be support for the link relation in feeds that can be autodiscovered, but then I don’t really have an idea of where Flattr would find the metadata to create the “thing” on their side.

Please, all you guys who work on services — can we get all behind the same ontology, so that we don’t have to start adding four times redundant information on pages, increasing their size for no advantage? Please!

Comments 3
  1. On a partially related note, have you considered using tt-rss ( It’s an open source aggregator, it’s already in portage and even going for the manual installation was as painless as untarring the archive and configuring the database.It has an (GPL-ed) Android app which connects through an external API, although it’s not quite as polished as gReader or similar apps for Google Reader.If you have an always-on server (will you shutdown Yamato when you go to Dublin?) I guess that’s the best option as a replacement you’re never going to worry about getting spring-cleaned behind your back.

  2. I’m not going to run any more software on my servers for something I can pay to get handled by someone else. For the record, this blog is running on a vserver of mine, but all my email is handled through Google Apps. Sometimes, self-hosting is much more expensive than buying the service.Besides, it’s written in PHP, and I have no intention to ever run PHP on my servers. No way.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.