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Should the author tag be the author of the content of the page, or the author of the HTML (if these were different)?

The spec (w3/moz) doesn't help to clarify for me.

(I appreciate it may have no SEO value.)

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author, as one of the standard metadata names, is defined in the HTML spec:

The value must be a free-form string giving the name of one of the page’s authors.

There is nothing else to its definition, so authors as well as consumers of the markup have to base their use just on this sentence.

In my opinion, "page author" refers to the content author. Reasons why:

  • If something else were meant, the definition should have clarified it.
  • Marking up content with HTML typically doesn’t meet the threshold of originality, so as far as copyright/attribution is concerned, there is typically no reason to specify the markup author.
  • There are other metadata names for persons that are responsible for the "visual presentation" (designer) and the "technical design" (web_author).
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I'm in the habit of listing my own name (as the website designer). If the content of the page contains an article, then information about the author of the article should be included in an aside on the page (if this fits your design structure).

  • metatags.org indicates that it is the person/company who created the webpage.
  • Mozilla's Blog downplays the importance of using it, but states that it is for the "author of the page".

Of course, you can clarify the role of the person if you use "web_author" instead. The purpose of the tag was so that credit for (and questions about) the design could be directed to the correct person/company.

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