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This is not "this is not a date"

From: Jeffrey Mogul <mogul@pa.dec.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 97 16:36:28 PST
Message-Id: <9712120036.AA29037@acetes.pa.dec.com>
To: http-wg%cuckoo.hpl.hp.com@hplb.hpl.hp.com
Dave Kristol writes:
    I like Benjamin Franz's suggestion of a fixed date that means "this
    is not a date" as a placeholder.

and various other people seem to agree.

I have a suggestion: instead of coming up with a new syntax
for "this is not a date" (when the existing date syntax, horribly
inefficient and hard-to-parse as it is, has at least more or
less been tamed by implementors) perhaps we can get by with
something a little simpler.

For example, we could say

	If the sender is required to send a Date header
	by some part of this specification, and is unable
	to generate a current HTTP-date value, it SHOULD
	send a legal HTTP-date value that is provably in
	the past.

For example, send
	Date: Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:0:01 GMT

As far as I can tell, this will not lead to any more trouble
than simply omitting the Date header.  It also seems to be
legal according to section 14.19 of -rev-01.

-Jeff
Received on Thursday, 11 December 1997 16:40:32 EST

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