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1 Vote Links

1.1 authors

1.2 preamble

Indexing and tracking applications treat all links as endorsements, or expressions of support. This is a problem, as we need to link to those we disagree with as well, to discuss why.

1.3 specification

Add a set of three new values for the rel attribute of the <a> (link) tag in HTML. The new values are "vote-for" "vote-abstain" or "vote-against", which are mutually exclusive, and represent agreement, abstention or indifference, and disagreement respectively.

A link without an explicit vote 'rel' value may be ignored, or deemed to have value "vote-for" or "vote-abstain", depending on the application. EG a vote counting application would ignore unlabelled links; a search engine could ignore only vote-against links.

Additional human-readable commentary can be added using the existing 'title' attribute, which most browsers show as a rollover.


1.4 Points that keep coming up

1.4.1 Why only for and against? How about something more nuanced?

The point of this is to provide a strong yes/no response. Finer-grained measures of agreement don't make much sense on an individual basis; aggregating many votes is more interesting. For example, consider how eBay's user rating system has been reduced to a like/dislike switch by users. The 'Ayes, Noes, abstentions' model has served well in politics and committees, when a division is called for.

1.4.2 There are much richer ways to express this idea and similar ones using RDF and semantic web ideas

Indeed there are, but typing them by hand and remembering them is beyond most mere mortals, and automated tools don't do this either. This is meant to be very simple, memorable and easy to type in the current generation of blogging tools, that largely need manual entry of URLs. Similarly, it is easily added to an automated tool.

1.4.3 I'd like some visual representation on the page of these different types

You can do that by defining 'vote-for' 'vote-against' and 'vote-abstain' CSS2 attribute selectors and applying them to the post as well. E.g.

1.4.4 Won't all this negativity lead to trolling and flame wars?

Trolling is a problem already - Google's PageRank rewards being linked to, so notoriety is valued as highly as popularity. This leads to a 'no publicity is bad publicity' approach. For relentless positivists, the 'vote-against' and 'vote-abstain' values could be taken as signals meaning "don't index this link". For Vote tallying, however, positive and negative responses are both valuable and clear. The possibility of a personally filtered search, which reflects your own values expressed by your own links is greatly enhanced by the ability to define negative links as well as positive ones.