Bugzilla – Bug 17684
Wiki documentation of Pragma directive requirements are unworkable as currently written
Last modified: 2013-01-21 16:00:50 UTC
The HTML5 spec. (Meta/Other pragma directives) currently states:
> Extensions to the predefined set of pragma directives may, under certain conditions, be registered in the WHATWG Wiki PragmaExtensions page.
> Such extensions must use a name that is identical to an HTTP header registered in the Permanent Message Header Field Registry, and must have behavior identical to that described for the HTTP header.
This seems to be a problem, because there seems to be significant interest in “documenting reality”: put it in the wiki first, sort out conformance with the IANA later (ie. never). The argument goes that the ends justify the means; that conformance with the spec. (indeed, with any spec.) is relatively unimportant if you're a vendor, that developers are better off understanding how the real world works than how to play nice, and that documenting how to do things that you're not allowed to do is the ideal role of a specification.
The situation we have at this stage, is that people put whatever they want in the wiki, which the HTML5 spec. says is invalid (IANA registration is required before directives can be added to the wiki), but which it also says is valid (defer to the wiki for a list of valid directives).
[The preceding paragraph is, in essence, the totality of this bug.]
This might be a minor issue, except that attempts to reconcile the wiki with the spec. seem to spark edit/revert wars.
So, if the HTML5 spec. is to avoid contradicting itself, one, or both, of those requirements must change, or something else must change which will render the contradiction moot.
Apparently, there is agreement on that wiki, that this situation must indeed be resolved, and by changing this spec.; so, I have filed this bug so that the issue can be formally considered.
Possible resolutions include:
* Remove the IANA requirement requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec. Apparently dealing with the IANA “annoying”, and there is “No need to abide” with such annoyance (according to the Talk page on that wiki). Expect new pragma directives to flourish.
* Remove the wiki requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec. Just delegate to the IANA, as was done in the past. The spec. won't be wrong, but it apparently won't match reality.
* Remove all requirements from that part of the HTML5 spec. Let people check with the vendor as to what is required for compatibility with a given product, and decide for themselves what to do.
* Clarify in the spec. that non-IANA registered entries are permitted in the wiki for documentation purposes, but remain invalid for use without IANA registration. Then people can document reality all they like, while developers now have to check two registries to determine pragma validity.
* Create an additional "informative" wiki entry for adding known (invalid) pragma directives, for the purposes of documenting them. To satisfy developer curiosity, I presume, since they are invalid for use.
* Eliminate the registry, and update the spec. every time a new and important header enters widespread use (the “living document” argument).
* Do nothing, let edit wars rage on the wiki, requiring hourly updates to conformance checkers, and crush the hope out of anyone who wants to code their websites to the standard.
This bug was cloned to create bug 18025 as part of operation convergence.
I think this bug describes some valid problems, but note that Hixie has marked this resolved=later upstream. I'd suggest doing something similar for this, so we're all on the same page.
see bug 18025 for upstream status
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Change Description: No spec change.
Rationale: Let's take this up in HTML.next, as Mike™ suggests.
I do not think that this is a satisfactory response.
It is of course the spec. writer's prerogative as to when and which bugs are resolved, but as stated, the spec. is contradictory and therefore unimplementable as currently written.
Any one of the many obvious solutions (most of which are semantic and not technical) would serve well enough for now, even if they are not ideal in the long term. However, I disagree strongly with not addressing this in any way at this stage, because the current state benefits no-one.
There is already evidence that, for example, validator user agents have completely refused to implement the contents of the wiki in any way, and this bug is one of many reasons why (along with other issues such as the spontaneity of updates to the wiki, and the unavailability of the wiki content as machine-readable output).
As it is already unimplemented, and there is both observed and documented dissatisfaction with the current state of the spec. by vendors, in respect of this bug, I do not think that "deal with it in the indefinite future" is acceptable.
Mass move to "HTML WG"