[whatwg] Link rot is not dangerous

Shelley Powers shelleyp at burningbird.net
Fri May 15 12:23:37 PDT 2009

Kristof Zelechovski wrote:
> Classes in com.sun.* are reserved for Java implementation details and should
> not be used by the general public.  CURIE URL are intended for general use.
> So, I can say "Well, it is not the same", because it is not.
> Cheers,
> Chris
But we're not dealing with Java anymore. We're dealing with using 
reversed DNS concatenated with some kind of default URI, to create some 
kind of bastardized URL, which actually is valid, though incredibly 
painful to see, and can be implied to actually take one to to a web address.

You don't have to take my word for it -- check out Philip's testing demo 
for microdata. You get triples with the following:



Not only do you face problems with link rot, you also face a significant 
amount of confusion, as people look at that and go, "What the hell is 

Oh, and you can say, "Well, but we don't _mean_ anything by it" -- but 
what does that have to do with anything? People don't go running the 
spec everytime they see something. They look at this thing and think, 
"Oh, a link. I wonder where it goes." You go ahead and try it, and 
imagine for a moment the confusion when it goes absolutely no where. 
Except that I imagine the W3C folks are getting a little annoyed with 
the HTML WG now, for allowing this type of thing in, generating a whole 
bunch of 404 errors for the web master(s).

But hey, you've given me another idea. I think I'll create my own 
vocabulary items, with the reversed DNS 
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml/custom#com.sun.*. No, maybe 
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml/custom#com.opera.*. Nah, how about 
http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml/custom#com.microsoft.*. Yeah, that's cool. 
And there is no mechanism is place to prevent this, because unlike 
"regular" URIs, where the domain is actually controlled by specific 
entity, you've created the world famous W3C fudge pot. Anything goes.

I can't wait for the lawsuits on this one. You think that cybersquatting 
is an issue on the web, or facebook, or Twitter, wait until you see 
people use com.microsoft.*.

Then there's the vocabulary that was created by foobar.com, that people 
think, "Hey, cool, I'll use that...whatever it is". After all, if you 
want to play with the RDF kids, your vocabularies have to be usable by 
other people.

But Foobar takes a dive in the dot com pool, and foobar.com gets taken 
over by a porn establishment. Yeah, I can't wait for people to explain 
that one to the boss. Just because it doesn't link, won't mean it won't 
end up on Twitter as a big, huge joke.

If you want to find something to criticize, I think it's important to 
realize that hey, folks, you've just stepped over the line, and you're 
now in the Zone of Decentralization. Whatever impacts us, babes, impacts 
all of you. Because if you look at Philip's example, you're going to see 
the same set of vocabulary URIs we're using for RDF right now, as 
microdata uses our stuff, too. Including the links that are all 
trembling on the edge on the self-implosion.

So the point of all of this is moot.

But it was fun. Really fun. Have a great weekend.


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