Posts Tagged: “code”

A Reason to Use rel=”author” Links

We just released new integration options for multi-author websites— this post discusses some technical details about these new features.

The Challenge

Our goal was to find a way to support websites whose content is created by more than one person, and have Tips to that content be attributed to the correct author for a particular page. A perfect example is a multi-author blog where several authors each write posts; we wanted a way for the Tips to each post to be received by the author and show up in that author’s TipTheWeb account.

We also needed a reasonably secure and accurate way for authors to claim their pages on a website so they could start receiving Tips for their content. Authors should only have to go through this claiming process once per website they contribute to.

Minimizing the amount of integration site-owners have to do is extremely important to us, and if possible, we wanted no aspect of the integration would be proprietary to TipTheWeb.

The Solution — URLs FTW

A URL can serve both as a way to identify the author, and as the place the author could claim through TipTheWeb. For instance, I could be identified as the author of this blog post by the URL: http://twitter.com/ericf and (since TipTheWeb has an integration with Twitter) I can claim and verify that I am “ericf” on Twitter in my TipTheWeb account.

Author Links

We have a URL that identifies the author of the page, and we need to put it in the markup of the page; since this is meta data, it should go in the <head>. It turns out there’s already a standard type of link element (though seldom-used) for representing the relationship between a web page and its author: <link rel="author" href="…" />.

Using the example above, the author link in the page would look like this:

<link rel="author" href="http://twitter.com/ericf" title="ericf" />

While a person is tipping a page we check (server-side) for the presence of an author link; if we find one, then that Tip will go to the author identified by the link.

An Aside on rel=”author”

The rel="author" attribute is stating the author relationship between the current document and a document that represents that page’s author, this creates a perfect mechanism for content attribution.

From the WHATWG HTML Spec on Link Types:

For link elements, the author keyword indicates that the referenced document provides further information about the author for the page as a whole.

What This Means for Websites

Website owners can create a semantic relationship between pages and authors based on web standards and get automatic Tip delegation just by adding author links to their pages.

Our multi-author website documentation and integration FAQs provide extra details such as overriding rel="author" link with rel="publisher" links, and how authors claim their pages of multi-author site.

We’re excited to see sites starting to add author links and we’re eager to get your feedback on our multi-author website support, let us know your thoughts and when you add author links to your site: feedback@tiptheweb.org

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