Re: [apps-discuss] A modest proposal for MIME types (and URI schemes)

Nathaniel Borenstein <> Mon, 14 November 2011 15:32 UTC

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From: Nathaniel Borenstein <>
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Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 10:32:12 -0500
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To: Larry Masinter <>
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Cc: Roy Fielding <>, "" <>
Subject: Re: [apps-discuss] A modest proposal for MIME types (and URI schemes)
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I certainly don't believe that name collisions are irrelevant; they can cause plenty of problems.  In particular, I don't understand what's supposed to happen in this kind of case:

1.  Company X designs a new media type, perhaps even only for internal use, and registers it as application/foobar

2.  Company Y designs something entirely different and registers it as application/foobar as well.

3.  Each company builds up months or years of experience with their own type, which gets scattered all through the archives, etc.

4.  Company X buys company Y and starts to integrate its infrastructure.

This wouldn't trouble me so much if there were *any* way to tell the two uses apart.  Isn't that the whole point of a registry?  If name collisions are to be allowed, why do we need a registry at all?  Why not just have independent communities of folk wisdom with their own interpretations of media type names, and pay big bucks to consultants to sort out the problems? 

If I want to define a media type for a moving picture flip-book, is it really OK if I call it "My Pictures Emerge Galloping" and use a media type of video/mpeg?  Mightn't my doing that cause problems for a whole lot of people with no responsibility for my idiocy?  -- Nathaniel

On Nov 13, 2011, at 1:59 PM, Larry Masinter wrote:

> I'd like to discuss the proposal for MIME registrations from Roy Fielding in
> and the possibility that such changes should also apply to URI schemes.
> You can read Roy's rationale, which makes sense to me, but my summary is: 
> * Eliminate standards, vendor, personal trees distinction for MIME types (For URI schemes, eliminate distinction between provisional and permanent schemes)
> * ENCOURAGE vendors to ship with vendor-neutral short-named types regardless of whether they have been registered yet or not;
>  ENCOURAGE the public to register any names that they have seen in deployed software. (same for URI schemes)
> * DO NOT try to avoid duplicates 
> * EXPERT REVIEW for updates to existing registrations
> * Eliminate any IESG or consensus review requirement
> "There is absolutely no need to prevent name collisions in the registry itself because those collisions are irrelevant -- what matters is how the names are interpreted by recipients of messages."
> "There is absolutely no need to prevent people who are not the owners of a media type from registering that type without any prefixes."
> "The registry is not operable -- it is just documentation of how the Internet is operating, and it should reflect the reality of that operation even if that means we have multiple definitions per registered type."
> I find this perspective appealing, and can't find anything wrong with it except that it's a break with tradition. If you're at IETF this week and want to talk about it, find me.
> Larry 
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