HTML 3.2 PR: Ordering of META elements

Jon Knight (
Wed, 4 Dec 1996 21:56:45 +0000 (GMT)

Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996 21:56:45 +0000 (GMT)
From: Jon Knight <>
Subject: HTML 3.2 PR: Ordering of META elements
Message-ID: <>

A quick comment on the 3.2 Proposed Recommendation: it would be really
nice to see a small comment added to the section detailing the META
element advising implementations not to reorder or delete this element
from documents without the express authority of the user.  Something along
the lines of:

  The META element can be used to include name/value pairs describing
  properties of the document, such as author, expiry date, a list of key
| words etc. Tools processing HTML 3.2 compliant documents must not
| reorder or delete META elements without the prior consent of the end
| user as this may alter or destroy the meaning of blocks of metadata
| that rely on the explicit ordering of multiple META elements.  The NAME
  attribute specifies the property name while the
  CONTENT attribute specifies the property value, e.g [...]

The reason for wanting this is that the Dublin Core effort to improve
metadata provision on the web is keen on using the META element for
holding embedded DC metadata in HTML documents.  We have currently adopted
the convention proposed at the May W3C workshop on Distributed Indexing
and Searching (see <URL:>
for details) and this involves having documents with more than one META
element in the head.  We'd like to be able to group items and explicitly
specify their order but it has been pointed out that some current tools
would screw this up.  Having an explicit statement in the spec would
hopefully go a long way towards preventing this sort of behaviour and make
the META tag much more useful.

Incidentally, anybody interested in metadata issues and Dublin Core should
pop onto the mailing list (it is a majordomo - usual
subscription mechanism) where you'll find some (often quite heated :-) )
discussion of these issues.  The list archives are available at

Tatty bye,


Jon "Jim'll" Knight, Researcher, Sysop and General Dogsbody, Dept. Computer
Studies, Loughborough University of Technology, Leics., ENGLAND.  LE11 3TU.
* I've found I now dream in Perl.  More worryingly, I enjoy those dreams. *