[whatwg] <a href="" ping="">

Charles Iliya Krempeaux supercanadian at gmail.com
Fri Oct 21 12:38:16 PDT 2005


(Just thought I'd comment on this since I work in this industry.)

For #2, I can tell you that advertising software will NOT use this
unless they absolutely know it works.  There'd need to be some way of
detecting browsers that it works on.  Without having to resort to
browser detecting.  Need to do "feature detecting".  (I.e., don't want
to have to check for specific versions of specific browsers.  But want
to check to see what "features" whatever browser they are on has.)

For alot in the advertising industry, clicks are their "bread and
butter".  It's where the money comes from.  They MUST be able to
"record" a click.

Also, it is often necessay to "ping" more than one URI.  So you might
want to make a system where you can list more than one URI.  (Although
I guess you could just have one "ping" URI and do redirect tricks with

Back to "feature detecting" though.  Maybe if we had a kind of
loopback "ping" that would work.  (If that makes sense.)  That way a
document could initiate a "ping" to somewhere it would be able to

See ya

On 10/21/05, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> One of the patterns I've seen a lot while looking at big sites is this:
>    <a href="record?url=http%3A%2F%2Ffoo.example.com/"> Foo </a>
> ...where "redirect" is a CGI script that records that the user followed
> the link, and that then redirects the user to the real page (potentially
> setting a cookie in the process).
> This is used for four main reasons:
>  1. Improving sites, by getting data regarding how users use the site.
>  2. Keeping track of which adverts were clicked on, for book-keeping.
>  3. Improving services, e.g. by offering a number of options, checking
>     which the user picked, and making that one be the first on the list
>     the next time the user uses the service.
>  4. Uniquely identifying and tracking a user for evil purposes.
> Sometimes more than one of the above is done, e.g. clicking on adverts
> sometimes informs the publisher and the advertiser before moving the user
> to the real destination.
> The problem at the moment is that the redirect mechanism obscures the
> eventual target URI. It would be good to have the target URI separate
> from the tracking URIs, so that the UA can show each of them separately in
> the UI, indicating the user who is getting told what.
> Doing this would also allow the UA to easily turn off the pinging thing
> for users who are worried about point 4 above.
> Bearing the above in mind, I've added a section to the <a> element that
> describes a ping="" attribute. The URIs given in this attribute would be
> followed when the user clicks the link, thus getting around the problems
> listed above.
> Now, because of number 4 above, I'm guessing this is going to be
> controversial, which is why I'm calling this out explicitly (as opposed to
> waiting til I've filled in all the TBW sections and then just asking for a
> general review, since people might miss it if I did that).
> Thoughts? Is it evil?
>    http://whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#ping
> --
> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
> http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.

     charles @ reptile.ca
     supercanadian @ gmail.com

     developer weblog: http://ChangeLog.ca/
 Never forget where you came from

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