Re: Request to register "identifier" relation type

Michael Nelson <mln@cs.odu.edu> Sat, 05 August 2017 17:25 UTC

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Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2017 13:25:03 -0400
From: Michael Nelson <mln@cs.odu.edu>
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To: Peter Williams <pezra@barelyenough.org>
CC: Herbert Van de Sompel <hvdsomp@gmail.com>, link-relations <link-relations@ietf.org>, Simeon Warner <simeon.warner@cornell.edu>, Geoffrey Bilder <gbilder@crossref.org>, "John A. Kunze" <jak@ucop.edu>
Subject: Re: Request to register "identifier" relation type
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On Fri, 4 Aug 2017, Peter Williams wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 9:05 AM, Herbert Van de Sompel <hvdsomp@gmail.com>; wrote:
>       ... 
> 
> * Description: A link with the "identifier" relation type indicates that the link
> target is preferred over the link context for the purpose of referencing.
> ...
> 
> 
> How does `identifier` differ from `canonical` ("Designates the preferred version of a
> resource" -- https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6596)?

Hi Peter,

The short version (as per Ed's separate email) is that "canonical" exists 
to resolve URI aliases: 2 or more URIs for the same resource (i.e., 
duplicate content).  In contrast, "identifier" exists to establish 
relationships between different resources (i.e., different content).

Expanding further:

The short phrase for the rel registry RFC 6596 uses is indeed "Designates 
the preferred version of a resource", but then the RFC goes on to say:

    More formally, the canonical link relation specifies the preferred IRI
    from a set of resources that return the context IRI's content in
    duplicated form.  Once specified, applications such as search engines
    can focus processing on the canonical, and references to the context
    (referring) IRI can be updated to reference the target (canonical)
    IRI.

and then gives the illustrative example:

    If the preferred version of a IRI and its content exists at:

    http://www.example.com/page.php?item=purse

    Then duplicate content IRIs such as:

    http://www.example.com/page.php?item=purse&category=bags
    http://www.example.com/page.php?item=purse&category=bags&sid=1234

    may designate the canonical link relation in HTML as specified in
    [REC-html401-19991224]:

    <link rel="canonical"
            href="http://www.example.com/page.php?item=purse">

    or as a relative IRI:

    <link rel="canonical" href="page.php?item=purse">


In contrast, "identifier" is about establishing relationships between 
*different* resources.  This includes providing machine-readable linkage 
between:

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171057

and

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167475

but also between the DOI and the subsequents PDFs, PPTs, PNGs, XML, etc.:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure/image?download&size=large&id=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0167475.g003
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167475&type=manuscript
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167475&type=printable

If you discovered one of the three above URIs out of context, it would be 
nice if they expressed membership in "10.1371/journal.pone.0171057".  That 
wouldn't preclude additional boundary expressions, but the XML citations 
and PNG of an article image clearly can't use "canonical".

This general pattern is abstracted at:

http://signposting.org/identifier/dryad/


The blog post that Herbert mentioned is at:

http://ws-dl.blogspot.com/2016/11/2016-11-07-linking-to-persistent.html

Where it examines the suitability of:


     rel="canonical"
     rel="alternate"
     rel="duplicate"
     rel="related"
     rel="bookmark"
     rel="permalink"
     rel="shortlink"


regards,

Michael


> 
> Cheers,
> Peter
>  
> 
>

----
Michael L. Nelson mln@cs.odu.edu http://www.cs.odu.edu/~mln/
Dept of Computer Science, Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA 23529
+1 757 683 6393 +1 757 683 4900 (f)