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Re: Draft of TAG position on use of unregistered media types in W3C Recommendations

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 12:07:24 -0400
To: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF049E2172.3C1730A7-ON852571B2.00572ACE-852571B2.0058923E@lotus.com>
Bjoern Hoehrmann writes:

> How about this instead:
>   W3C Working Groups must resolve dependencies on unregistered Internet
>   Media Types by directly or indirectly registering these types in the
>   IANA media type registry. W3C Technical Reports must not encourage or
>   require use or implementation of unregistered media types.
> How is Web architecture positively affected by following your policy in-
> stead of mine? http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2006Jul/0009
> discusses how interoperability is negatively affected by your policy.

First of all, thank you for the quick response and the suggestion.

As to the substance, we were contacted in part because particular 
workgroups were concerned because of a desire to reference particular 
widely deployed types such as "audio/wav".  While I personally have almost 
no direct familiarity with the history of debates on this media type, my 
understanding is that various groups have been involved over the years in 
so far unsuccessful attempts to register that type.  So, for good or bad 
reasons it is in fact both unregistered and in widespread use.  I think 
that your proposed text would essentially require any W3C group that 
wanted to produce a Recommendation that exploited such a type to be 
proactive in reopening debate in IANA (or other appropriate registration 
body) to get it registered.  Speaking for myself and not necessarily for 
the TAG as a whole, I don't think we should require that in the case where 
the type is already in widespread use, and where the workgroup in question 
is just another user.   I believe that the sense of the TAG was to allow 
some latitude in such cases, and I have tried to capture that in the note.

> I also note that:
>   The TAG's scope is limited to technical issues about Web architecture.
>   The TAG should not consider administrative, process, or organizational
>   policy issues of W3C, which are generally addressed by the W3C
>   Advisory Committee, Advisory Board, and Team.

Agreed.  I believe the AB is in fact  taking the lead on this.  They 
seemed to feel that there was at least a risk that the issue had technical 
as well as procedural implications, and were among those who at least 
informally solicited the TAG's opinion.  Our discussion was motivated in 
part by that.  I don't think there's any intention on the part of the TAG 
to get out ahead of the AB on the procedural aspects of this, but merely 
to offer an opinion driven to a significant degree by an understanding of 
the technical issues (e.g. how hard it is to use a different media type 
when the one you'd prefer isn't registered.)  So, I think we're agreed 
that insofar as this is a process issue, the TAG does not have the lead on 
it.  For example, I would expect the AB (or maybe W3C staff) to decide 
whether any changes to the W3C Process document are merited.

Thanks again.

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
Received on Friday, 21 July 2006 16:07:42 UTC

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