Google has recently updated their documentation of forum structured data, making changes to the InteractionCounter schema.org data type and adding a new recommended property for the author type. These changes are significant as they affect how Google interprets information related to users posting comments in a forum. The InteractionCounter structured data type is important as it tells Google how many times an author interaction has occurred, and it has required structured data properties for eligibility to be shown in Google perspectives and other search results that feature rich results.
The previous forum documentation for the InteractionCounter type was vague and only offered definitions of two properties associated with that type, without offering examples of their context of use. With the recent update, Google has clarified this section to emphasize the importance and usefulness of using the InteractionCounter type in documenting various author interactions.
Additionally, Google has made changes to the guidance for the forum structured data documentation, stating that the interactionType should be a subtype of Action, and added a new property for the author URL of the Comment structured data type. The author.url property requires a link to a web page that uniquely identifies the author of the post, most likely a profile page of the forum, and it is recommended to mark up that page using profile page structured data.
This update is particularly interesting as it highlights Google’s focus on pinpointing the authors of content within the context of a forum. At present, search results featuring user-generated answers from forums do not display author names. However, Google’s increased emphasis on authorship signals, such as displaying the names of authors of news articles, raises the question of whether showing forum user names is being considered or if Google has other plans for author data behind the scenes.
Overall, these changes to the forum structured data documentation demonstrate Google’s ongoing efforts to refine and clarify its requirements for authorship-related schema.org data types, with a focus on forum interactions. The update provides valuable insight into the increasing importance of accurately identifying and attributing authorship in various online contexts, including discussion forums.
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