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Change Proposal for ISSUE-79, was: ISSUE-79: meta-keywords - Chairs Solicit Proposals

From: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 2010 19:58:56 +0100
Message-ID: <4B6F0D70.20603@gmx.de>
To: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
CC: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
SUMMARY

HTML5 makes unregistered values of meta/@name non-conforming. This will
affect many pages that use meta/@name = "keywords".

This change proposal makes that value conforming again.


RATIONALE

HTML4 did not put conformance requirements on meta/@name values, nor did 
it define specific ones. It did however mention the keyword (sic) 
"keywords" in [1].

According to [2], "keywords" is the most widely used value for meta/@name.

HTML5 makes documents that use unregistered names non-conforming, and
makes both the registration procedure and conformance rely on a Wiki in 
WhatWG space. This is a separate issue that we should discuss once the 
related issue about the @rel registry is resolved (ISSUE-27).

With this change to document conformance, all documents using 
meta/@name= "keywords" will become invalid. Note that the current 
implementation of the HTML5 validator (as of January 2010) does not 
implement checking of meta/@name yet, so this change has not been 
visible to people trying to validate their existing pages.

It has been pointed out that search engines have stopped to consider
keyword information, but apparently this isn't true for all of them
(see [3], which I have verified).

However, this is not sufficient reason to make it's use non-conforming;
there are other use cases for embedding keywords, such as in controlled
environments (building navigation pages / elements from keywords inside
a content management system has been mentioned).


DETAILS

Under "4.2.5.1 Standard metadata names", add:

"keywords

   Contains a comma-separated list of keywords relevant to the page.

   Note that many search engines have stopped to consider keyword
   information as relevant because it has been used unreliably or even
   misleading. Recipients are recommended to use this information only
   when there's sufficient confidence in the reliability of this
   information, for instance in controlled environments such as sites
   generated from a content management system.

IMPACT

1. Positive Effects

Documents using meta/@name="keywords" will be conforming again.

2. Negative Effects

People may continue to believe that all search engines will use this 
data, and spending additional time providing it for some of them. This 
can be mitigated by explaining this in the spec, as proposed above.

3. Conformance Classes Changes

Documents using meta/@name="keywords" will be conforming again.

4. Risks

None.


REFERENCES

[1] <http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/global.html#edef-META>
[2] <http://code.google.com/webstats/2005-12/metadata.html>
[3] <http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/search/indexing/ranking-02.html>
Received on Sunday, 7 February 2010 18:59:54 GMT

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