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RE: Microsoft's "I mean it" content-type parameter

From: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2008 03:50:07 -0400
To: "'William A. Rowe, Jr.'" <wrowe@rowe-clan.net>
Cc: "'Karl Dubost'" <karl@w3.org>, "'Daniel Stenberg'" <daniel@haxx.se>, "'HTTP Working Group'" <ietf-http-wg@w3.org>, <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <020501c8ddaa$94178f90$bc46aeb0$@com>

> Rather than persisting FUD, I'd challenge you to point out only one
> significant site, and a relatively minor site, affected by such a change.

Others on the list have already provided some pretty decent examples, no need for me to do so. While those sites may constitute a minority of the total number of Web sites out there, they are some fairly major sites. Furthermore, as we have seen in past discussions on this mailing list, if a change we make "breaks" 0.1% of pages, that is still millions of pages, more than we usually like to "break".

> Folks who insist that sniffing is "necessary" really aught to back up the
> assertion with hard data, or close the significant vulnerabilities that
> persist in the ecosystem.

As a technique, it is not "necessary". However, not breaking the Web *is* necessary, or else HTML 5 will become yet another ignored spec on the pile. So it is now important that we find a way to deal with this without causing *more* problems.

> As mentioned in a previous note, sniffing served a noble purpose for a safer
> environment, one that simply doesn't exist.

I never disagreed with you here. At best, I think people on this list can provide a guess as to the historical thinking that lead to browsers doing this. You can go ahead and stick to the position of "I don't care about anyone not following the spec, and I wish browsers wouldn't enable them to write bad code." In which case you back a vision of the HTML spec that stands in an ivory tower, or is some sort of brass ring (wow, I just realized the M:tG references there!) attainable by only the elite who use The Right Software and who have memorized many hundred-plus page specs. Or, you can back a more pragmatic vision, where we work hard to get a spec that Real World Developers can target. Personally, as a "real world developer", I opt for the latter.

Also, I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't toss FUD accusations around. First of all, personal attacks are highly unnecessary. Second of all, I am one of the people active on this list without any strong ties to an industry player. I do not represent a major company. I am not trying to get my employers decisions ratified after the fact by the HTML 5 spec. In fact, my current employer has no intention of using either HTTP or HTML in any of their products, except for possibly as a documentation format (doubtful at that). I chose to join this group since I felt that the HTML 5 draft that I read was headed in the wrong direction. The "special interest" that I try my best to represent are real world developers who have to use this spec and HTML documents, based upon my own experiences with HTML, HTTP, etc. and et al. Given my reasons for participation, I have zero reason to "persist FUD" (as you state). Finally, I am not "persisting FUD" anyways.

So, now that your challenge to me has been answered by others, I once again ask you to present your own solution to the problem. Not, "well, if only the evil browsers from vendors I don't like would only follow the spec to the letter, everything would be fine!" But an actual alternative to what has already been presented (the humorously, but accurately titled "Microsoft's 'I mean it' content-type parameter").

J.Ja
Received on Friday, 4 July 2008 07:51:27 GMT

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