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

Last week I circulated a preliminary draft [1] of a TAG email on use of 
unregistered media types in W3C Recommendations.  Based on responses to 
that, as well as input on today's telcon from members who were not present 
for last week's discussion, I am offering this revised draft.  There is 
still no specific plan to turn this note into a TAG finding, but we note 
Mark Baker's suggestion [2] that some of this guidance might fit well into 
a future revision of Tag finding "Internet Media Type registration, 
consistency of use" [3] .  As with the first draft, the following is NOT 
the agreed position of the TAG, just text that's being circulated for 

=======START OF DRAFT NOTE==========
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 
note is being circulated to publicize 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, workgroups should 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 

The TAG does recognize that there are a few unregistered media types 
already in widespread use, and we agree that there may be exceptional 
cases when Recommendations would benefit from reference to such types.  We 
believe that the W3C process should recognize that there is great value to 
encouraging W3C groups to promote the registration of such types, but 
should also recognize that asking a workgroup to do this as a precondition 
for referencing a type could in some cases be burdensome.   In short, 
registration is important and requiring registration should be the norm; 
very occasional exceptions might be allowed in cases where arranging for 
registration of the referenced types is deemed unusually difficult.

We suggest that the W3C Advisory Board is the appropriate group to propose 
specific changes to the W3C Process that would capture these principles. 
The goal should be to ensure that workgroups are suitably attentive to the 
requirements for registering media types, and also that the appropriate 
tradeoffs are considered when a need is seen for reference to as yet 
unregistered types. 

Noah Mendelsohn
For the W3C Technical Architecture Group


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


Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142


Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

Received on Tuesday, 25 July 2006 22:06:26 UTC