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Re: Datestamping HTML

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jkorpela@cs.tut.fi>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 13:20:52 +0200 (EET)
To: "<www-html@w3.org> <www-html@w3.org>" <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0401231306440.27964@korppi.cs.tut.fi>

On Fri, 23 Jan 2004, David Dorward wrote:

> On 23 Jan 2004, at 09:28, Sue Craig wrote:
> > I wonder if you could let me know to whom I should write about
> > suggesting
> > that all HTML documents get automatically datestamped as they are
> > uploaded
> > to the server?
> Isn't this the point of the Last-Modified http header?

Yes and no. If a file is uploaded in a normal, typical way, then the
Last-Modified header indeed tells the moment of time of the upload.
This seems to be what Sue Craig was asking for, but I don't think
what she's really after.

If I upload a document of mine written in 1999, and never changed after
that, it will get a timestamp of the moment of upload. It would be
wrong to rely on the Last-Modified header, or any similar information
provided by the server, as telling how old or new the document is.

Besides, what servers do isn't really much of an HTML business.
It would be wrong to require that they insert some date stamps.
Ultimately only the author knows when the document was really written
or modified. An authoring tool might help in creating and maintaining
information about that, but that's really external to HTML specifications.

I don't think HTML needs any new features for datestamping, since
authors already have the option of using things like

<head profile=
  <meta name="DC.modified" scheme="DCTERM.W3CDTF"

What we need is browsers and search engines and other software that
supports such notations, which are far from an ideal solution, but
surely a reasonable way.

If authors wish to include visible notes on creation and change dates
into the document body, they can do so. I don't think it would help
much to develop specific markup for them (except perhaps as part of
a general solution to the problem of making information available both as
metadata and as part of document proper). An element for dates or times or
both would be nice, especially since it could help speech browsers in
reading notations like 2004-01-22 correctly (and not e.g. as a
mathematical expression).

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Friday, 23 January 2004 06:25:51 UTC

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