W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > October 2007

Re: spec review: ping attribute

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 20:51:43 +0000 (UTC)
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0710262044450.7001@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Fri, 26 Oct 2007, Julian Reschke wrote:
> 
> "For URIs that are HTTP URIs, the requests must be performed using the 
> POST method (with an empty entity body in the request). User agents must 
> ignore any entity bodies returned in the responses, but must, unless 
> otherwise specified by the user, honour the HTTP headers  in 
> particular, HTTP cookie headers. [RFC2965]"
> 
> I'd like to understand why POST was selected for that. POST is an unsafe 
> method, and it shouldn't be sent without the consent of the user -- in 
> particular not if the target is on a different server.

POST is "unsafe" because invoking the method is allowed to have 
side-effects, like charging money, whereas GET requests are safe because 
they are supposed to be idempotent, meaning that no side-effects are 
supposed to happen.

In the case of ping="", a major use case is informing a site when a 
sponsored link is followed, to enable the site to transfer money with a 
third party. This is a side-effect, and can only happen if the request is 
not an idempotent (GET, HEAD) request. POST is the most appropriate method 
for this use case.

What do you think are the risks of using POST?


> The spec continues with:
> 
> "When the ping attribute is present, user agents should clearly indicate 
> to the user that following the hyperlink will also cause secondary 
> requests to be sent in the background, possibly including listing the 
> actual target URIs."
> 
> This is good, but it's probably not clear enough -- at least FF3 is 
> ignoring this.

It's not clear to me how to make it clearer.

In the case of Firefox 3, the developers were very aware of the above 
requirement, as well as its implications, and intentionally decided to 
violate the SHOULD for the time being. It isn't clear to me that there is 
anything I could do to the _spec_ to change their mind. (It's not like 
they just missed the above paragraph or didn't understand it.)

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Friday, 26 October 2007 20:52:17 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Wednesday, 9 May 2012 00:16:08 GMT