Paul has volunteered (was Re: Overloaded URIs must GO!)

Tim Bray tbray at
Mon May 31 21:43:33 BST 1999

At 02:05 PM 5/31/99 -0500, Paul Prescod wrote:
>I'm talking specifically about the definition of HTTP URLs. 
>"The HTTP URL scheme is used to designate Internet resources accessible
>using HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)."
>(I guess from a formal logic perspective it should end with "and no

No, that's not a "formal logic" change, that's a huge basic semantic
change.  If the IETF had wanted to forbid people using these for
other purposes, they should say so.  Note that one of the co-editors
of the URI RFC is one T. Berners-Lee, who among other things signed
off on the namespace spec.

>If you use them to designate non-Internet resources NOT accessible by HTTP
>then I consider that an obvious abuse, even if the HTTP spec. isn't
>sufficiently anal to disallow the practice from a formal logic

Uh, namespace URIs do not designate resources.  The namespace spec
is crystal-clear on this.  They serve as names, that's all.

>Otherwise I could put http:// URLs on my website and say: "Oh, you were
>supposed to interpret those as gopher URLs. The URL spec. doesn't disallow
>that you know!" 

That analogy is bogus - the semantic of a URL, when used in a web hyperlink, 
is well-defined.  We are not specifying that the namespace URI be used as 
anything but a string, for comparison purposes.  There is no convincing 
evidence that this violates the letter or spirit of any standard 
anywhere. -Tim

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