W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > September 2002

Re: <meta> tags and their practical use

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 14:33:18 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200209281333.g8SDXIa01830@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-html@w3.org

> Besides, the situations where an author needs to tune HTTP cache 

This is getting a bit off topic, but, anyway...

> control tend to involve either server-side scripting or high-demand 

That's probably when they *need* to, but most people who *want* to,
do so to frustrate caching as much as possible, often including
<meta ...pragma...no-cache>, which is actually meaningless, from a
standards point of view, because it is only defined in the client to
server direction, but works with popular browsers!  Most authors have
no idea that about half of HTTP 1.1 is about efficient use of resources
through caching, but simply want to frustrate it.

> static content. In both cases the author has bigger problems if (s)he 
> can't influence the HTTP headers.

What happens is that people teach themselves HTML, or worse still the
person commissioning the job, learns HTML using cheap web hosting, 
and therefore never learns any mechanism other than meta.  When they
get to do things with proper access to the server, either they call
on their knowledge from cheap hosting services, or the person who
actually controls the server is not the cheap HTML author that actually
writes the code, and the actual author has never seen the big picture.

Another factor is, in the current culture of instant gratification, 
people don't want to learn about HTML and HTTP, only about HTML (which
also explains off topic questions, where people confuse DOM with HTML).

The reasons that cheap web hosting services don't provide proper HTTP
access are:

1) an incentive to upgrade to their more expensive services;
2) security, although anyone offering CGI has probably compromised that if
   they don't know how to maintain the rest of the HTTP server configuration
   in a non-trivial secure condition.
Received on Saturday, 28 September 2002 10:15:18 UTC

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