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

On the TAG teleconference of 18 July 2006 there was some discussion of use 
of unregistered media types in W3C (see agenda [1] and draft minutes [2]). 
 I was assigned an action [3] to draft a very short note that the TAG 
might circulate to clarify its position.  For the moment, there is no 
specific plan to turn this note into a finding, but we might choose to do 
so later.  Anyway, the following is my first cut at such a note.  At this 
point, the following is NOT the agreed position of the TAG, just text 
that's being circulated for consideration.

=======START OF DRAFT NOTE==========
Several groups within the W3C 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 this note is being circulated to publicise our 

In general, it is desirable that media types and other formats referenced 
from W3C Recommendations 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 also in 
exceptional circumstances be good reasons for using or experimenting with 
new formats that are not registered.  Accordingly, the TAG suggests the 
following guidelines for W3C Recommendations:

* Workgroups preparing Recommendations should in general make reasonable 
efforts to 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, workgroups should in general arrange for registration of 
new media types that they may create, and should make reasonable efforts 
to promote the proper registration of other formats on which their 
Recommendations depend.

* W3C Recommendations may and indeed should refer to unregistered media 
types when necessary to meet the needs of users, e.g. when required for 
proper interaction with widely deployed software.  In such circumstances, 
it is typically appropriate for the Recommendation itself or for the 
materials accompanying the submission of the Proposed Recommendation to 
briefly explain the reason for dependence on an unregistered format.

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

=======END OF DRAFT NOTE==========

[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
[3] http://www.w3.org/2006/07/18-tagmem-minutes.html#action02

Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Received on Friday, 21 July 2006 13:50:42 UTC