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[Bug 17684] New: Wiki documentation of Pragma directive requirements are unworkable as currently written

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2012 23:16:47 +0000
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <bug-17684-2495@http.www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/>

           Summary: Wiki documentation of Pragma directive requirements
                    are unworkable as currently written
           Product: HTML WG
           Version: unspecified
          Platform: Other
        OS/Version: All
            Status: NEW
          Severity: normal
          Priority: P2
         Component: HTML5 spec
        AssignedTo: ian@hixie.ch
        ReportedBy: theimp@iinet.net.au
         QAContact: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
                CC: mike@w3.org, public-html-wg-issue-tracking@w3.org,

The HTML5 spec. (Meta/Other pragma directives) currently states:

> Extensions to the predefined set of pragma directives may, under certain conditions, be registered in the WHATWG Wiki PragmaExtensions page.

> Such extensions must use a name that is identical to an HTTP header registered in the Permanent Message Header Field Registry, and must have behavior identical to that described for the HTTP header.

This seems to be a problem, because there seems to be significant interest in
“documenting reality”: put it in the wiki first, sort out conformance with the
IANA later (ie. never). The argument goes that the ends justify the means; that
conformance with the spec. (indeed, with any spec.) is relatively unimportant
if you're a vendor, that developers are better off understanding how the real
world works than how to play nice, and that documenting how to do things that
you're not allowed to do is the ideal role of a specification.

The situation we have at this stage, is that people put whatever they want in
the wiki, which the HTML5 spec. says is invalid (IANA registration is required
before directives can be added to the wiki), but which it also says is valid
(defer to the wiki for a list of valid directives).

[The preceding paragraph is, in essence, the totality of this bug.]

This might be a minor issue, except that attempts to reconcile the wiki with
the spec. seem to spark edit/revert wars.

So, if the HTML5 spec. is to avoid contradicting itself, one, or both, of those
requirements must change, or something else must change which will render the
contradiction moot.

Apparently, there is agreement on that wiki, that this situation must indeed be
resolved, and by changing this spec.; so, I have filed this bug so that the
issue can be formally considered.

Possible resolutions include:

* Remove the IANA requirement requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec.
Apparently dealing with the IANA “annoying”, and there is “No need to abide”
with such annoyance (according to the Talk page on that wiki). Expect new
pragma directives to flourish.

* Remove the wiki requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec. Just delegate
to the IANA, as was done in the past. The spec. won't be wrong, but it
apparently won't match reality.

* Remove all requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec. Let people check
with the vendor as to what is required for compatibility with a given product,
and decide for themselves what to do.

* Clarify in the spec. that non-IANA registered entries are permitted in the
wiki for documentation purposes, but remain invalid for use without IANA
registration. Then people can document reality all they like, while developers
now have to check two registries to determine pragma validity.

* Create an additional "informative" wiki entry for adding known (invalid)
pragma directives, for the purposes of documenting them. To satisfy developer
curiosity, I presume, since they are invalid for use.

* Eliminate the registry, and update the spec. every time a new and important
header enters widespread use (the “living document” argument).

* Do nothing, let edit wars rage on the wiki, requiring hourly updates to
conformance checkers, and crush the hope out of anyone who wants to code their
websites to the standard.

See also:
Bug 9530

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Received on Wednesday, 4 July 2012 02:04:03 UTC

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