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Re: The harm that can come if the W3C supports publication of competing specs

From: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 22:21:27 -0500
Message-ID: <7c2a12e21001161921o35fddb68w72fb942a40a01163@mail.gmail.com>
To: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM, Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com> wrote:
> I do not work for an implementor, which seems to imbue one with super
> human markup skills, so you'll have to excuse me if what I perceive
> support for competing standards by the same standards organization
> seems to me to be, well, forgive my frankness, the dumbest thing the
> W3C has done since blink.

I wouldn't go that far.  But as I've said in the past, I agree that
working on two standards that do almost exactly the same thing is a
bad idea.  Since no one can agree on which to actually support,
though, there seems to be no choice but to let them fight it out.

> I suppose one could say that HTML and XHTML were competing, but both
> were really a different serialization of the same model. I suppose one
> could say the same about Microdata and RDFa, but they are not the
> same, they both don't support the same models. More importantly, there
> is a major difference in impetus for both groups: one wants to support
> metadata, the other seemingly wants to kill the first.

Both want to support metadata.  I think MediaWiki should support
metadata, for instance, and believe it should be in microdata format.
I could just as easily have argued that we shouldn't support any kind
of metadata, but I didn't, since I don't believe that.  Likewise, if
Ian really disagreed with the idea of metadata in HTML, he could have
refused to accept any metadata format into the spec, instead of
accepting one and trying to promote it over the competitor.  The same
goes for all the implementers who've said they want to implement
microdata but not RDFa.

> No, after reading the Wikipedia tech emails, I do object to a FPWD of
> Microdata.

For what it's worth, I (the MediaWiki developer who proposed we use
microdata) don't really care what the W3C says.  I use the WHATWG spec
myself, recommend others use the WHATWG spec, and will continue to do
so if it diverges significantly from the W3C spec.  I don't think W3C
endorsement or lack thereof will figure significantly into what
MediaWiki does -- we use plenty of standards endorsed by non-W3C
bodies, as do all sites.

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 2:59 PM, Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com> wrote:
> I respect your disagreement David. In this case, though, I believe two
> specs will result in harm. Getting people to incorporate metadata has
> been a challenge in the first place. Now, if you have members of this
> WG having metadata wars in the email groups for other applications,
> people are going to decide to not support either. And probably
> politely, or not so politely, tell us all go buzz off.

Yep.  That's what I said.  That's what I'd argue for MediaWiki, too,
if not for the fact that we have a clear-cut use for metadata-in-HTML.
 The solution is to kill one spec or the other, but that gets us
nowhere if we can't decide which -- and we obviously can't.

> What's also bothersome in this email exchange is that there's no
> indication in this discussion that the web is not run by Google,
> Mozilla, Apple, and Opera alone. Seemingly forgetting that when comes
> to metadata--heck, when it comes to anything on the web--there's a
> host of other tools and organizations, and people, that also have a
> stake in the result.

Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, Apple, and Opera are the only browser
implementers that matter.  So for anything that requires support in
browsers, yes, it's their decision, not anyone else.  A spec that no
one uses is pointless.  Microdata and RDFa don't require support in
browsers, so those five aren't as important here, and I did indeed
only mention them in passing.  I mostly emphasized the technical
benefits of microdata, and why I thought it would win in the end.

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 3:03 PM, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu> wrote:
> The main issue with XHTML2 was that it was actively incompatible with XHTML1
> and HTML (in the sense that you couldn't sanely implement both in the same
> UA).  Is Microdata in such a situation wrt RDFa?  I have to admit I've long
> since tuned out most of the discussion on both, since it seemed to be going
> nowhere.

It would be entirely possible to mix microdata and RDFa in the same
document, if you liked.  It would also be easy for a consumer to
support both -- HTML5 specifies algorithms to convert between them.

> I do think we should make it abundantly clear for ALL our FPWDs that they
> are NOT recommendations, NOT necessarily calls for implementation and NOT
> "standards".  This has been a major issue of confusion in the past with all
> sorts of half-baked W3C stuff, whether it competes with other W3C stuff or
> not.

Both RDFa+HTML and microdata are ready for implementations and author
adoption, though, right?  So isn't it incorrect to suggest that they
aren't?
Received on Sunday, 17 January 2010 03:22:01 GMT

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