Re: [apps-discuss] The acct: scheme question

"Paul E. Jones" <> Thu, 24 May 2012 14:03 UTC

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From: "Paul E. Jones" <>
To: "'Henry S. Thompson'" <>
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Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 10:03:34 -0400
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Subject: Re: [apps-discuss] The acct: scheme question
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> Paul E. Jones writes:
> > The "acct" URI scheme has a narrow scope . . . I suspect appreciation
> > for that URI scheme will grow with wider deployment of WebFinger,
> > though.
> I find those two statements bordering on the contradictory.  It is
> precisely because if it does indeed turn out that acct: URIs address a
> real need, they will 'leak' out of WF and into wider contexts (i.e.
> "appreciation . . . will grow"), and so acct: needs review as such in the
> normal way any new URI scheme needs review.

It wasn't intended to be.  Several have said before that they do not like
"acct" and prefer something else.  However, I think that is because "acct"
is presently not widely deployed and the novelty concerns people.  It has
been suggested, for example, to use the URI scheme "mailto" instead.  So, my
intent was just to say that once "acct" is adopted for querying for a user's
account information using "acct", people will appreciate it more than they
do now.  I think back on the examples I've given where I feel "mailto" just
isn't right because it relates to email and some of my accounts on the
Internet have no relationship to email.

That's not to say that "mailto" could not be used.  If the OpenID spec
declared that was the URI to use, then that's what that protocol mandates
and I'd have no objection to it.  What I'd like to see mailto used for,
though, is to provide information to my mail client so it can be
provisioned.  Someone referred to RFC 6186 as a way to do that, but that RFC
only specifies what POP, IMAP, and SMTP servers to use globally.  Users are
often clustered on certain machines and I'd personally like to see a link
relation called "config-email" that has a URI that, when queried, would
return JSON like this:

    "imaps" : "",
    "smtp-submission" : ""

That link relation could be returned when querying for my account (via the
"acct" URI), but if there was a document that defined mail
auto-configuration, then it could specify the use of "mailto" and I believe
that would be a perfectly good example of where "mailto:" would be more
appropriate than "acct".

The "acct" URI should be used to return a wide variety of information about
a user's account.  I view it as information that is largely of interest to
people other than the actual user.  That would include information like my
contact list or my picture or other information.

Anyway, we've discussed before that WebFinger can operate on a variety of
URIs.  The one that should relate to the users account we put a stake in the
ground and declare to be "acct".  If we want to specify other URIs for a
subset of that information or instead of "acct" (e.g., mailto for mail
configuration), that would be a reasonable thing to do.