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Re: Proposed HTML ping attribute

From: L. David Baron <dbaron@dbaron.org>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 14:38:51 -0800
To: www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <20080115223851.GA12414@ridley.dbaron.org>

On Tuesday 2008-01-15 17:09 -0500, noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com wrote:
> 1) Based on his personal knowledge of the needs of the "user tracking" 
> community, Roy speculates that the proposed ping attribute will not be 
> widely used for its intended purpose, and thus is a bad idea.

The relevant questions are really:
 (1) how much tracking currently done using redirects and/or script
     would be converted to <a ping>? (an improvement)
 (2) how much additional tracking would be done? (worse?)
 (3) what are the relative magnitudes of the improvement of
     switching from redirects and/or script to <a ping> vs the
     worsening of doing more tracking?

> 2) He notes that while some particular resources may indeed interpret 
> empty body posts in the intended manner, others may not.  If we understand 
>  him correctly, Roy is suggesting that a malicious (or negligent) author 
> of  Web pages with ping attributes could "trick" a user into causing such 
> a  POST to be sent to a resource that would interpret it in ways that were 
>  destructive.

Does this introduce anything that form.submit() can't already do?

> 3) He suggests that if a ping attribute is to exist, user agents must 
> distinguish for users actions that will cause pings to be sent from 
> actions that won't.  I.e., an ordinary hyperlink access is "safe" in the 
> sense we discuss in Web architecture;  the ping is not safe and could have 
>  consequences, including unintended consequences as in (2) above, so "the 
> UI for a user action that is safe (a link) must be rendered differently 
> from all other actions that might be unsafe."

Considering that script can already do lots of things when a user
clicks a link (including send pings), having such user interface
already requires solving the halting problem.  While some
implementations may want to provide additional user interface, I
don't think the TAG has the necessary experience in user-interface
design.

> Members of the TAG believe that the ping attribute as proposed in HTML5 
> may have a deep impact on the architecture of the Web itself. Accordingly, 

That seems rather dramatic for something that makes something that
adds a declarative markup mechanism for something that's already
quite common on the Web, thus making it a little easier to do and
giving it a slightly better user experience.


That said, the way privacy issues were dismissed rather than clearly
explained when there was first significant press around <a ping> may
mean it's DOA anyway, because the significant negative coverage it
already received may make implementors hesitant to touch it or turn
on support by default.

-David

-- 
L. David Baron                                 http://dbaron.org/
Mozilla Corporation                       http://www.mozilla.com/
Received on Tuesday, 15 January 2008 22:39:01 GMT

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