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I haven't thought about rel="next" and rel="prev" since the middle of the last decade, but I recall that the blogging community used these attributes in semantically different way. Instead of marking parts of a single unit of content, rel="next" and rel="prev" were used to mark the next document in a chronological series.

IMO, this latter usage is consistent with both HTML 4 and HTML5 semantics. I suppose Google's approach can be read as consistent with the specs, too, but either usage takes a different interpretation of "a document" and the relationships in a series of documents.



I agree with you, the HTML 4.01 specification says that "next" refers to the next document in a linear sequence of documents. A sequence of documents ordered chronologically would be a linear sequence, like the sequence of blog articles published on a certain blog. The individual articles could be regarded as "stand alone" documents and do not require the other articles in the sequence for some "completeness".

The Google article talks mainly about paginated content and mentions that it comes in different forms. The examples given in the article suggest that here we have a sequence of pages where we should or could have only one document, like in the example of the forum thread: it may consist of many pages, ordered in a linear fashion, but individual pages of the thread might be somehow incomplete. The whole thread is the document. I think that this interpretation is different from the interpretation of next/prev indicating a chronologically ordered sequence.

The article mentions also "The first page":

>>The first page only contains rel=”next” and no rel=”prev” markup.<<

"The first page" means that there is only one. Could we have more than one first page as entry point into the sequence? Like a story with different possible beginnings converging to a common end?

Is this just a matter of the definitions of "page" and "document"? I haven't read the specification, but I wouldn't be surprised if it called webpages "documents".

You can certainly have multiple entry points, although you can't then statically model it with just prev in a simple manner.

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