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Re: Report on testing of the link relations registry

From: David Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2010 16:49:15 -0700
Cc: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <76F0BFBA-E90B-41C6-BC57-63528B10CCB1@apple.com>
To: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>
I think that formal registries and Wikis are both useful.  

Formal registries can have well-defined entry criteria, expert review, stability, references/owners/specifications, and so on (if they wish). They can be trusted, stable.  But the downside is that to gain that trust and stability they need those entry criteria and reviews.

Wikis can be dynamic, open, up to date, and so on.  But the downside is that anyone can edit them, enter poorly-thought-out ideas, incorrect information, change existing state, and so on. To gain that dynamicity they lose trustability ("don't use Wikipedia as a primary reference" for example).

I think that registries should be optimized for readers -- for stability, clarity, correctness, and ease of lookup, and that Wikis tend to be optimized for the authors, rather than the readers.

But much of the criticism of the registries has been off the mark, I think.  Registries do what they are asked to do; some community decides what the entrance/review criteria area, what needs to be documented, and so on, and then the registry helps keep the resulting database and to apply the agreed rules.  I think that much of this discussion has the feel of setting up strawmen and then coming to conclusions based on those strawmen.

If the design of a registry is not appropriate for a community, then re-design it. 

I just want to avoid a situation in which people 'just know' that some random wiki pages are really considered definitive, some are helpful, some off the mark, and so on.  The spec. and the registry should reference each other, ideally, so we all know where we are.

I have no problem with a spec. that says "experimental link relations are often documented on <wiki>, until they are stable enough and used enough to be considered fixed, when they move to <the formal registry>.", for example.

So, let's decide what is needed in a registry, ("the specification of a link relation must say X, Y, Z or have a reference to a document where those are specified") and how we want to operate it, and I am sure we can arrive at a sensible result that will last.

On Sep 3, 2010, at 13:04 , Aryeh Gregor wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 6:27 PM, David Singer <singer@apple.com> wrote:
>> The idea that registries should trawl the world looking for usages, guess what they are and what they mean, invent definitions and specifications to back up those guesses, is, if you think about it, rather bizarre.  But I can't think what else you are suggesting (well, maybe telepathy) if the registry is to be criticized for not containing things that no-one has tried to register.
> It's not the operators of the registry who will be looking for changes
> -- it will be its *users*.  On a wiki, any user who sees anything
> wrong can fix it with almost no effort.  That's how wikis work, and it
> works really well.  You put an "edit" link on every single page, maybe
> an "add an entry" link at prominent points on your list, and your
> *viewers* will keep it up to date.  Again, if reliability is a problem
> in practice, a separate stable version can be maintained that a
> largish group of trusted people sync to the untrusted version
> regularly after review (e.g., daily).
> We are not evaluating the effectiveness of the IANA's registry in a
> vacuum.  We are comparing it to a well-tested alternative, namely, a
> wiki.  Evidence suggests that the wiki-based microformats.org registry
> is much more up-to-date than most IANA registries, so in that sense,
> it works much better.  At this point, I'm not clear what your concrete
> objections are to using a wiki.  The incredulity at the idea that web
> pages can be kept up to date without anyone following some formal
> submission process is hard for me to understand, given the success of
> wikis in the last several years, but as a MediaWiki developer, maybe
> I'm biased.  :)

David Singer
Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.
Received on Friday, 3 September 2010 23:49:49 UTC

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