The web is for humans

Updated: Jul 5 2022

I just added a humans.txt file to my personal site.

It’s just a simple plain text file at the root of my site, which you probably wouldn’t ever find, unless you enjoy poking around in Github repos.

Along with my contact info, and the technology used to build this site, this file contains a growing list of people who have influenced how I build websites.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t all that important. But it’s been on my list of things to add to my site for a while, so I’m pleased to finally get it live.

For those that are new to humans.txt files, I’ve written a short post about them – how they differ from robots.txt and how I’m approaching mine.

Whilst at it, I jotted down a few thoughts about humans.txt files – how they differ from robots.txt and how I’m approaching mine.

I’ve also included a quick 3 step tutorial to show you how to create one for yourself.

Express your gratitude #

Whereas a robots.txt file is for search engines, a humans.txt file is for humans.

It’s a small way to acknowledge the people who helped build your website, in one way or another. Even though few people will ever discover it, it’s one of those website easter eggs that makes the web that little bit more fun to be a part of.

Typically, a humans.txt file includes a list of team members who have contributed to the project. However, you may prefer to list those who you’ve taking inspiration from, or who you’ve learnt most from over the years. The choice is yours, but its purpose remains the same.

Personally, I’m using this as a chance to pause for a moment, reflect and express some gratitude towards the people who have helped me get to where I am today.

Create your own humans.txt file #

If you’re interested in making a humans.txt file for your own site, here’s how it works. It’s very simple and you can put one together within a few minutes.

1. Create a text file called humans.txt #

First you need to create a text file called humans.txt and put something in it. Use whichever plain text editor you prefer.

Here’s the format I’m using:

/* TEAM */
                      
Your title: your name.                           
Site: email, link to a contact form, etc.  
Url: your website address                          
Social: your social media handle.                          
Location: City, Country.

[...]
    							
/* THANKS */

Name: their name
Twitter: their Twitter handle
Url: their website address    

[...]
                        
/* SITE */
                     
Last update: YYYY/MM/DD                                 
Standards: HTML5, CSS3,..                          
Components: Modernizr, jQuery, etc.                  
Software: Software used for the development

I pinched this from https://humanstxt.org/. You’re welcome to do the same.

2. Put it in the right place #

Now you need to make sure your humans.txt file is in the right place.

If your site is built with Hugo, like mine, then put your humans.txt file in your ./static folder and Hugo will do the rest when you build your site.

Otherwise, make sure you add your humans.txt file to the root of your site. For example, https://harrycresswell.com/humans.txt.

Finally, place a reference to the file in the <head>of the site like this:

<link rel="author" href="humans.txt" />

You may also like to link to your humans.txt file from somewhere else on your website.

<a href="/humans.txt">My humans.txt file</a>

Personally, I’ve decided against linking to my humans.txt file (except from within this short post). I rather like that it’s hidden and takes some digging to discover.

Anyway, that’s it. You’re all done.

humans.txt files in the wild #

Given the nature of humans.txt files, they’re not always easy to discover. But here are some I’ve managed to find, which might help inspire your own.

If you have a humans.txt file, then please let me know. I’d love to take a look and add it to the list above.

Final thoughts #

To the best of my knowledge, a humans.txt file won’t get you more followers, help you grow your email list, improve your search ranking or increase your conversion rate. So what’s the point, I here you say?

I like to think of my humans.txt file as a small reminder that the web is for Humans. When you’re caught up with SEO, algorithms and other ways to satify bots, it’s easy to forget that, sometimes.

It’s also just a bit of fun, because sometimes that’s important, too.

Resources #

If you want to learn more about humans.txt files, here are a few places to start.

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