W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-opentag@w3.org > April 2012

Re: how to refer to a user

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2012 12:01:31 +0100
To: Michiel de Jong <michiel@unhosted.org>
Cc: public-opentag@w3.org
Message-ID: <8B13D3735E73435D86752468DA06C0A9@marcosc.com>

On Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 23:32, Michiel de Jong wrote:

> Thanks for opening this community group! I have a question right away:
> how should we refer to a user?
> I consider 5 ways to do this (this is a cross-post from last week on
> the 'unhosted web apps' mailing list:
> human-readable ways to refer to a user:
> -----
> H1- by their user address (user@host)
> H2- with a non-unique description, e.g. avatar + first name + last name
> machine-readable ways to refer to a user:
> ----
> M1- by dereferencing a document about that user, e.g. http://host/user.html*
> M2- by dereferencing an interface to that user, e.g. mailto:user@host*
> M3- as the user herself is not "on" the web, simply don't refer to it.
> refer instead to her interfaces (e.g. her email address) and documents
> about her (e.g. her webfinger profile)
> M4- the w3c way (this is a bit complicated and inconsistent, but i'll
> explain it below)
> I think when we ask a user to identify themselves, it should always be
> done in way H1. If we ask a user to identify another user, it can be
> done in way H1 or H2. If we want to display a reference to a user,
> then it can be done with (a combination of) H1 and H2.
> I when referring to a user in a machine-readable document, the obvious
> way to do it would be M1, M2 or M3. A machine can treat an email
> address as if it were just a magical thing. A human is probably
> incapable of thinking about an email address without thinking about
> the user behind it, so that's why i put M3 only under the
> machine-readable options and not under the human-readable ones.
> The w3c way is a variation on M3, with the following modifications:
> - instead of saying that when we say mailto:user@host we are talking
> about an email address, we have to interpret the context. If an email
> address fits into the context, then it refers to the email address. if
> a user fits in the context, then it refers to the user owning the
> email address. If both would fit then it breaks. (this can happen for
> instance if you talk about the colour of a building. you might be
> talking about the colour of the web page that describes the building.
> - all interfaces (mailto:, xmpp:, tel:, etcetera) are allowed, but
> http and https addresses are only allowed if they point to fragments
> of documents, not if they point to whole documents. So if you see a
> URN with no '#' symbol in it, then you can be sure that it refers to
> the document. If there /is/ a '#' in it, then it might refer to either
> the document or to the thing described by the document.
> Especially the third special rule seems very random to me.
> I find the w3c way of referring to a thing crazy and wrong, and I
> think it's holding back the web. I think a lot of people agree with
> this. M1 and M2 are probably not going to get a lot of adoption, since
> pointers are hard to understand. So we can use M3, which means instead
> of:
> user == 'mailto:user@host*'
> we say:
> userContactMethods == ['mailto:user@host']
> and:
> userDescriptions == ['http://host/~user/foaf.json#me']
> I think this is called the fenomenological approach to metaphysics. It
> avoid incorrect statements like user ==
> 'http://host/~user/foaf.json#me' and also avoids scary dereferencing
> of pointers. This is for machine-readable references to a user. For
> human-readable ones, we just use user addresses, and imprecise things
> like first + last name.

I guess it depends one the context and application (sometimes I might not want to give you my email for privacy reasons), but the above makes sense to me.  

Marcos Caceres
Received on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 11:01:59 UTC

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