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Sending Referer [#144]

From: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 01:50:11 +1000
Message-Id: <E9A5F6A2-E90C-471D-90FD-416291EFD2B1@mnot.net>
To: HTTP Working Group <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>
Cc: Adam Barth <w3c@adambarth.com>
<http://trac.tools.ietf.org/wg/httpbis/trac/ticket/144>

There are some aspects of #144 that should be easy; e.g., clarifying  
that sending Referer isn't dependent of the protocol of the source.

However, in previous discussions, Adam et al indicated that it would  
be interesting to require that Referer always be sent, by minting a  
new value (e.g., 'null', although it will have to be something else,  
since "null" is a valid partial-URI) to indicate when a Referer is not  
available.

I see a few potential problems here...

1) Currently the draft (and 2616) says "The Referer field MUST NOT be  
sent if the request-target was obtained from a source that does not  
have its own URI, such as input from the user keyboard."  We'd have to  
remove this requirement and say something like "The Referer field MAY  
be sent with the "null" value if the request-target..."

SHOULD or MUST isn't possible here, because existing clients would  
become non-conformant. Technically, a server could have a problem with  
the 'null' value (as well as the fact that there isn't a referer, but  
the header is being sent), but it seems doubtful that this will cause  
an issue in practice...

2) A new requirement would need to be added to make the referer field  
compulsory, but again this would make some existing clients non- 
conformant.


Purely within HTTPbis, I think the best we could do, then, would be to  
add a null value that can be sent when appropriate, and encourage UAs  
to send referer. However, there's nothing stopping a third party  
document (e.g., a W3C browser profile) from requiring that it be sent...

Adam, what do you think? Others?

Cheers,


--
Mark Nottingham     http://www.mnot.net/
Received on Monday, 1 June 2009 15:50:50 GMT

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