TAG Position on Use of Unregistered Media Types in W3C Recommendations

Members of the W3C Advisory Board have recently approached the Technical 
Architecture Group (TAG) to ask for clarification of the guidelines 
regarding references to unregistered media types from W3C Recommendations. 
 The TAG briefly considered this question during their teleconference of 
18 July 2006 [1,2], and again on 25 July [minutes not yet available]. This 
following are our conclusions:

Media types and other formats referenced from W3C Recommendations should 
be properly registered with the appropriate authority.  Nonetheless, the 
TAG recognizes that certain such formats come into widespread use without 
registration, and that there may thus in exceptional circumstances be 
reasons for considering reference to unregistered types in W3C 
Recommendations.  To emphasize that the importance attached to 
registration, the TAG suggests the following guidelines for W3C 

* Workgroups preparing Recommendations should avoid dependencies on media 
types or other data formats that are not properly registered with the 
appropriate registration authority.  In the case of MIME media types, that 
authority is IANA.

* Accordingly, the TAG recommends that Working Groups register any new 
media type intended for use within W3C Recommendation-track documents with 
IANA. Further, we suggest that if pre-existing types are being 
grand-fathered into a Recommendation-track document, then the Working 
Group should clearly document the status of IANA registration efforts for 
the aforementioned types at each stage of the process of moving from 
working draft to Recommendation.

As the TAG is not chartered to address process questions, we suggest that 
the Advisory Board consider the most appropriate means of adapting W3C 
processes to achieve the above goals.  Thank you for your consideration of 
these suggestions.

Noah Mendelsohn
For the W3C Technical Architecture Group

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/2006/07/18-agenda.html
[2] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/2006/07/18-tagmem-minutes.html#item05

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Received on Friday, 4 August 2006 23:51:15 UTC