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Why Annotation Is Now a Web Standard

Web annotation is similar to traditional annotation in which people can make notes or interact with the text.

Since its introduction, web annotation has been regulated by the W3C Web Annotation Working Group.

To better understand why annotation has become the web standard, we’ve created this guide on things to know.

1. Standardizing Annotation

When it comes to life on the internet, standardization is key. In regard to annotating, this couldn’t be more true.

It’s necessary to have a standard, regulated way to annotate, which is what makes this version of web standardization so key.

All users can use web annotation similarly to document necessary comments or data while all pulling from the same vocabulary.

This helps to allow more equitable access to understanding and using annotation.

Because there is more regulation on annotation, it has helped to establish the tool’s authority.

If asking why annotation is now a web standard, the answer lies largely in its standardization.

2. Building Community

Web annotations have been adapted to make it easier to share ideas and opinions.

There are now annotation feeds where collective annotations can be shared across platforms.

These days, you can share annotations and find people who share similar opinions or maybe even subscribe to new ideologies.

Annotations on paper may be limited to the document they are in, but with web annotations, the data and experience can be shared across the web.

One of the best characteristics of annotations – arguably adding to their popularity – is the fact that they can be used across industries, companies, and platforms, helping to create a standard and community.

3. Keeping Websites Accountable

Annotation, when presented to the public, allows the general reader to provide feedback based on what they’re seeing.

For news sites, that means readers can comment disagreeing with an opinion piece or even mention that the facts in a piece are incorrect. Permitting annotations, it’s a way for there to be shared respect and the free flow of information.

This is critical in cases where there is a power dynamic or usually a trusting aspect, like in the case of news sites.

If news sites (or websites in general) were able to publish information with no way to be directly held accountable, it would spell out big problems for the web ecosystem.

Web annotation can also lend itself to bug reporting, another function that community members can play a key role in.

Find more information on the importance of bug reporting here.

4. It’s Been Around for a While

Variations of annotating have been around for quite some time. Though they’ve looked different than they do today, the authority of the tool has risen.

Traces of web annotation date back to 1989 and have continued to improve until today, with plenty of megacompanies providing or relying on annotation to thrive.

That said, annotation is not some new trend to hop on board with. It’s a proven tool that lives both on the web and in person, providing immeasurable value.

The fact that web annotation has been on the market for quite some time helps to create authority and has established it as a strong tool to help across the web.

5.`Big Websites Are Relying on Web Annotation

One of the reasons for web annotation’s rising in popularity and legitimacy is the fact that so many big websites rely on the tool. Examples of these sites include Genius and GoodReads.

Looking at Genius specifically, the website allows users to publish annotations or comments on webpages, specifically song lyrics.

This allows web users to comment on or read comments that break down what the text means or the story behind it.

Sure, this is a simplified version of web annotation, but it indicates just how the simple tool can make a big difference.


Web annotation has risen in popularity since being was introduced over two decades ago.

With big websites standardizing their use and the value becoming more evident than ever, annotation is more valuable than ever, making it a standard web tool.

With every changing web-based need, web annotation acts as a universal, flexible option to continue growing with the needs of the internet.

Plus, it works to improve the user experience – something you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.


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