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

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 15:33:12 -0500
To: noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com
Cc: www-tag@w3.org
Message-Id: <1154032392.8748.758.camel@dirk.w3.org>

On Tue, 2006-07-25 at 18:06 -0400, noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com wrote:
> =======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 
> Recommendations:
> * 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 
> depend.

That much is fine. I don't like the last bit, but I wasn't going
to object until you prompted me again ;-)

I'd rather go with just what we talked about on the phone yesterday:

  it's a process question and beyond the TAG's remit to say when
latitude is in order

To elaborate slightly, how about:

  W3C process is a balance of consensus, architecture, and
  timeliness; if a working group requests to proceed
  with references to unregistered media types, it's
  a process question to say whether the extenuating circumstances
  are sufficient.

  As the TAG is not chartered to address
  process questions, we leave it to the Advisory Board to
  establish any policies or just leave it to the discretion
  of The Director.

> 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.

Well, that suggests that we think there are, currently, cases
when Recommendations would benefit from reference
to unregistered media types. I don't think there are.

>   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.

That suggests that in this burden is undue. I haven't seen a case where
it is.

>    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
> [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://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2006Jul/0027.html
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2006Jul/0028.html
> [3] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/2004/0430-mime
> --------------------------------------
> Noah Mendelsohn 
> IBM Corporation
> One Rogers Street
> Cambridge, MA 02142
> 1-617-693-4036

Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
D3C2 887B 0F92 6005 C541  0875 0F91 96DE 6E52 C29E
Received on Thursday, 27 July 2006 20:33:30 UTC

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