May 2, 2007

Mass review and microformatting

Filed under: microformats, web — Andy Braxton @ 7:40 pm

The current trend briefing is on Transparency Tyranny (which, I hasten to add is nothing to do with Phil and Twitter ;). In it there is a section on the mass review:

1+ billion consumers are now online and the majority of them have been online for years. They’re skilled bargain seekers and ‘best of the best’ hunters, they’re avid online networkers and they’re opinionated reviewers and advisors. And there will no shortage of future contributors and viewers, especially with younger generations weighing in heavily; those that are born to the web, to whom contributing online is a given. Simply put: there will be many more consumers posting reviews, and they will increasingly consider them an integral part of their relationships with brands and businesses.

What doesn’t talk about is the ability to sort and search this information. Wouldn’t it be lovely if search engines could differentiate a review from a press release, or an faq and so on, so that we could specifically find reviews, seperating the wheat from the chaff and getting us to the information on a product that we want more quickly?

Well from what I understand this is already possible and already happening with the use of microformats. Very snazzy name for something very very simple:

Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging).

So, for example…I can label a piece of text like this…

<div class=”hreview”>

<span><span class=”rating”>5</span> out of 5 stars</span>

<h4 class=”summary”>Tito’s does fantastic jacket potatoes</h4>


And you can add a lot more information around the review – eg the time of publishing the review, the address of the restaurant. This means that search engines can give you results from the web, broken down into anything that is marked up with microformats. Like here on There could be other examples of this, anyone know of any? I dont have time to Google right now!




  1. This is important stuff. Firefox 3.0 will support microformats, and the word on the street is that Internet Explorer 8 will have to follow suit.

    Comment by Phillie Casablanca — May 3, 2007 @ 10:31 am

  2. I’ve just finished a book by Bruce Sterling – Shapeing Things ( which talks about this new paradigm of transparency – pus other ways of shopping and ‘knowing’. It ers on the side of susainability – knowing exactly how a product comes to be – and the people/resources/climates that it impacts

    will lend to any interested peeps

    Dan H

    Comment by Daniel — May 3, 2007 @ 11:16 am

  3. More on transparency here:

    “JL Kirk went the Darth Vader route. They had their lawyer, King & Ballow, send a fearsome letter demanding she “take down the blog entry…together with entire thread of comments.” They accused her of defamation and “tortuous interference,” and threatened her with monetary damages if she doesn’t comply with their demands by April 13. Confronted by a pissed off customer, their instinct was to actually crank up, WAY UP, the intimidation that Katherine had already described.”

    Comment by Andy Braxton — May 4, 2007 @ 11:35 am

  4. Molly E. Holzschlag talks about microformats (amongst other things).

    Also in the future the Semantic Web should provide us with much richer means for describing information in ways that both humans and computers can understand and benefit from.

    Comment by Stephen Hellens — May 10, 2007 @ 9:18 am

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