[whatwg] Proposal: Change HTML spec to allow any arbitrary value for the <meta> "name" attribute

Robin Berjon robin at w3.org
Tue Jun 4 03:03:58 PDT 2013

On 04/06/2013 11:08 , Smylers wrote:
> Michael[tm] Smith writes:
>> Speaking from my perspective as a contributor to development of a
>> conformance checker: In practice, we receive a lot of comments and bug
>> reports from confused/frustrated users who are trying to use values
>> for meta at name that are not registered.
> Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this.
> Could you give some examples of the kinds of <meta> names people are
> using?

I've seen quite a few. One recent example is bug-assist.js — a script 
that makes it easy for readers of a document to file bugs about it — 
that looks for all metadata names that start with "bug." and uses the 
remainder of the name as parameters to a Bugzilla bug entry.

> And do you have an idea which user-agents are acting on those names?

I am not aware of specific cases in which the browser is acting on the 
names, but there are quite a few in which a third-party system is (e.g. 
when using those as checks that a given person really has access to a 
given site).

The point is often that the person seeing the validity error is not the 
same person who defined the metadata name. Yes, you can register on 
behalf of someone else, but it's a hurdle and it's not the right social 
mechanics. It doesn't seem to buy anyone much, either.

> I'm interested in whether the <meta> tags people are using are
> meaningless cruft or have useful effects in niche fields.

They're not cruft, they're product-specific. In many cases some data-* 
attributes would be better, but they're not what's used.

>> And as far as the strategy of trying to use the spec and Wiki page as
>> a means to educate them about trying to taking the time to register
>> meta at name values and only use registered values and standard values
>> (those listed in the spec), well, that strategy is not working well.
>> They just want the validator to shut up.
> How about a validator interface along the lines of:
>    I see you've used a <meta name=kapow> tag. kapow isn't a <meta> name
>    that I know about. Are you sure that it's a correct name, and that
>    it's doing something useful in your document?
>    If so, please tell me its purpose here, then I'll know what it's for
>    and I won't complain about it again: ______________________________
> Then the validator could add a wiki entry for it.

Going that far might be a bit much, but if there concern is that typos 
in names then a warning should do the trick.

Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/ - @robinberjon

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