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A Sprinkle of POWDER Fosters Trust on the Web

02.09.2009
New W3C Standard to Raise Confidence in Site Quality, Relevance and Authenticity

Today W3C takes steps toward building a Web of trust, and making it possible to discover relevant, quality content more efficiently. When content providers use POWDER, the Protocol for Web Description Resources, they help people with tasks such as seeking sound medical advice, looking for trustworthy retailers, or searching for content available under a particular license (for instance, a Creative Commons license).

"People ask me how to pick out useful content among the vast amounts of information on the Web," said POWDER Working Group Chair Phil Archer of the Institute of Informatics & Telecommunications (IIT), NCSR Demokritos. "POWDER contributes to the solution. POWDER statements combined with authentication technology can help people find information that meets their own standards for quality, automatically."

Kai Scheppe of Deutsche Telekom AG added, "From a content provider's perspective this new means of describing Web resources opens up new possibilities for our customers to discover content with a higher degree of relevance. We are currently in the process of bringing POWDER documents online and look forward to broad spectrum adoption of this technology by information providers, aggregators and users alike."

POWDER Descriptions Help Automate Content Discovery

When content providers use POWDER descriptions, people can use tools to help discover relevant content. For instance, a site wishing to promote the mobile-friendliness of its content or applications can tell the world using POWDER. Content providers start by creating content that is conformant with W3C's mobileOK scheme and validating it with the mobileOK Checker. The checker generates POWDER statements that apply to individual pages. But a key feature of POWDER is that it lets content providers make statements about groups of resources - typically all the pages, images and videos on a Web site. Other tools such as the i-sieve POWDER generator (not from W3C) generates POWDER statements about the mobile-friendliness of entire sites. Once these POWDER statements are in place they can be used by search engines or other tools to help people find mobile-friendly content.

POWDER statements alone do not guarantee quality or relevance, but POWDER statements do promote accountability: they are always attributed to a "publisher." Knowing that people seek to build trust via the Web, publishers can take the next step by ensuring that their POWDER statements can be authenticated automatically. One consequence is that people will no longer have to "click to verify" trustmarks. Instead, tools can automate the verification, making life simpler for users while reducing the likelihood of spoofing.

"We continue to study the application of POWDER," said Phil Archer.
"With support from the EU we are examining POWDER and general trustmarks (in the Quatro Plus project) and identifying quality health-related Web resources (the MedIEQ project)."
The POWDER Working Group published three W3C Recommendations today:
Grouping of Resources, Formal Semantics, and Description Resources. For more information about POWDER, including a POWDER Primer and a range of tools, see the group home page.

Marie-Claire Forgue | alfa
Further information:
http://www.w3.org

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