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RE: Approved TAG finding: Authoritative Metadata

From: Booth, David (HP Software - Boston) <dbooth@hp.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2006 16:19:18 -0400
Message-ID: <EBBD956B8A9002479B0C9CE9FE14A6C2FD8486@tayexc19.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: "Hugh Winkler" <hughw@wellstorm.com>, "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>, "Anne van Kesteren" <annevk@opera.com>, <www-tag@w3.org>

> From:  Hugh Winkler
> . . .
> Many server vendors have not provided adequate support for authors to
> generate the correct Content-type headers. They did not understand the
> authoritative aspect of content-type by reading RFC 2616 and
> predecessors. Put a different way, they placed a different semantic on
> Content-type. So there are content-type headers being served up out
> there, some adhering to one, authoritative semantic, and others
> adherign to a less authoritative, more "hinty" one. Wrongly, we think,
> but there you are.
> The real problem is a user agent can't know which semantic the server
> has used. Same header name, different meanings.
> If servers added new information, maybe a new parameter on
> Content-type e.g. "Content-type: text/html;
> charset=utf-8;authoritative=yes"
> Then browsers could distinguish between the two. Whenever a browser
> encountered a missing "authoritative" parameter, well, things would be
> no worse than now. When it does encounter the "authoritative" content,
> the server promises reliable content types.

You raise an important practical point, but I would imagine that the
same tool vendors who are doing it wrong now would again mindlessly add
"authoritative=yes" to their generated headers, regardless of the
document's actual content type.  Then, to distinguish that misuse from
really authoritative usage we'd have to add yet another attribute
"really-authoritative=yes".  And then the same thing would happen all
over again, and we'd have to add "really-really-authoritative=yes", and
so on.  

David Booth, Ph.D.
HP Software
Phone: +1 617 629 8881
Received on Friday, 18 August 2006 20:20:43 UTC

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