A Spanish group of web developers, Carlos Mańas, Maria Macias, Abel Cabans, Abel Sutilo and Juanjo Bernabeu, decided to launch an initiative to credit the people behind websites. Here they explain why they created humans.txt
Humans.txt was born while talking about how many freelancers have serious problems establishing their work authorship. Many times they are contractors for companies that sign the work, or the final customer does not want to have their names appearing in the web. We can understand this, but it does not seem too fair.
We think the author is he who takes the pictures, she who makes the design and the artwork, he who writes the texts or the code. That work deserves respect and it should be possible to establish this authorship within the site.
Hteam – Google Wave
Earlier this year, the "idea/project" was progressing and we saw the need to coordinate all the doubts, the collaboration and the organisation of the team tasks.
We could not keep the conversation flowing by mail, so we began communicating through a platform that almost no one of us was then using, but it turned out be a great experience for its dynamism: Google Wave.
The first day using Google Wave was so cool. You could see the talks growing, while seeing what we were writing in real time, overlapping and adding ideas, witnessing the rest of the team's thrill. This made us more resolute and enthusiastic. This is what partnership is about: seeing how a project grows and sharing it, makes you feel high.
It is a bit difficult to summarise the many conversations we had in Wave for unifying concepts and coordinating the team. We discussed and planned subjects such as translation, desktop publishing, team pictures, plug-ins, profile types, whether or not to set a standard and so on.
We also used Wave to centralise and discuss the comments we received from Twitter, Quora, Facebook, Forrst, mail and so on.
These contributions were helping us to generate, shape and move forward the project (which, of course, also flowed thanks to the help of all these people who collaborated with translations, plugins, humans.txt search engines and so on).
Among all the external proposals we received, the location of the txt file was one that drove a pretty big deliberation.
From the beginning we had thought of a location in the root folder, but some people suggested we use the "/.well-known/" folder according to the Internet Standards Track document.
After discussing it and since this is a transversal project, we preferred to keep the original location in the root folder for ease of use, but agreed that if someone wants to put their humans.txt file in the "/.well-known/" folder, it can be done as long as "yoursite/humans.txt" redirects to "yoursite/.well-known/humans.txt".
Humanstxt.org, Facebook and Twitter
We launched the first version of the website because we were starting to talk about humanstxt and we needed an "official" point of information. We had a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but these channels are more conversation-oriented.
That gave us time to get serious about preparing the website and double checking the contents. It was very interesting, because there were many people debating, mostly in forums, how you should use the humans.txt file and which options were better. All this made us review the entire project over and over.
The website is also a sample of the overall project, of why we find it necessary to use a humans.txt file. This project is the result of many people's work. Someone has done the design, someone else has created the layout, the content, the translations ... It is not the work of one company nor of one department.
Humanstxt first appeared in "Microsiervos" and SmashingMagazine.
Visits grew, emails and comments were arriving and, then, the first collaborators appeared:
- First of all, Hans Vedo, of Vancouver, who offered to create the first WordPress plug-in.
- After him, Michael Mahemoff and Ricardo Gonzalez wrote to create the Chrome and Firefox 4 extensions to help detecting whether a site uses humans.txt directly from these browsers.
- Pedro Cambra and Victor Castell developed modules for Drupal (6.x and 7.x).
- Amir Habibi created a specific tool for finding the people behind a website, based on humans.txt: www.humanssearch.com/.
The website was released in three languages. Eva Asensio did the Catalan translation and Marta Armada was responsible for the texts in English. She also lent a hand with the layout of the website. Currently we also have translations into Russian and Dutch.
It's amazing to see how a project is cherished so much, that people want to participate and sometimes, they don't even ask, they just start developing something for it. It's like your project is no longer just yours. It's exciting.