Building an Open Social Graph

At Plaxo, we believe strongly that users should have ownership, control, and portability of their profiles and friends list. No service you use should claim your data as their own and keep it trapped in their "walled garden". We will continue to publish tools and articles here and on our blog to empower users and support a truly open social web.

Online Identity Consolidator

An important aspect of the open social graph is being able to declare the different sites you use and tie them together. That way, your friends can keep in touch with you across multiple services, and you won't have to tell each new site what other tools you're already using.

The easiest way to tell people—and computers—about the sites you use is to link from your home page, blog, and profile pages to the other sites you use. If you add rel="me" to the link tag, it says "this is another site about me". Many sites already do this, and services like wordpress make it easy to annotate your links like this.

Plaxo's Online Identity Consolidator—which you can use here or download the source code and use yourself—starts with one of your web sites and crawls all the rel="me" links to find the other web pages you want people to know about.

Demo: Enter your home page or one of your online profile URLs:

e.g. http://josephsmarr.com

Output format:  

NOTE: This will only work if you enter a page that's got rel="me" links in it. Also, it may take a while to crawl if you link to a lot of pages (the crawler is not yet multi-threaded).

How this works

The crawler starts with the URL you enter and looks for rel="me" links to other sites you use. It then crawls them too, and so on until it runs out of links to follow. It then looks for bi-directional links between sets of URLs, which establish a "verified claim" that the same person is indeed controlling both sides.

For instance, anyone could link to my twitter page, but I won't link back with rel="me" to any of those sites except my own home page. So if my home page links to my twitter page and vice versa, you can be sure they're both really my pages. Similarly, if my twitter page links to my home page, my home page links to my Plaxo profile, and my Plaxo profile links to my twitter page, I've still established a trusted circle of links, even if no two pages link to each other in both directions.

How can I publish the sites I use?

There are several ways to start publishing rel="me" links between the sites you use:

Download the source code

Plaxo is releasing the source code to our Online Identity Consolidator for anyone to use and improve upon. It's a python script that crawls from a starting URL you provide and looks for links to other pages annotated with the rel="me" attribute. It also detects pairs or groups of pages that link to each other in both directions and reports those as "verified claims".

Download rel_me_crawler.py

Learn more