Specification For HTML Meta Element with Name Value Pro-Auth


Section 1: Introduction

This is the specification for the HTML meta element with the name attribute value set to “pro-auth”. This is version 1.0.2 of this specification. Non-normatively, there is an article about this specification and closely-related specifications include Specification For HTML Meta Element with Name Value Pro, Specification For HTML Meta Element with Name Value Pro-Auth-Field, and Specification For HTML Meta Element with Name Value Pro-Auth-Fragment.

HTML is the HyperText Markup Language, which is a commonly used, perhaps the most commonly used, non-natural language for pages hosted on the World Wide Web. HTML is generally written approximately in accordance with specifications that have been revised several times. Two of those HTML specifications are the HTML Living Standard (as updated and (One-Page Version treated here as if authoritative) (<https://html.spec.whatwg.org/>, as accessed and )) and HTML 5.1 (version of ) (<http://www.w3.org/TR/html51/single-page.html>, as accessed before and on ). The HTML Living Standard is maintained by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) and HTML 5.1 is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Each of those HTML specifications specifies numerous elements and, in section 4.2.5 of each such HTML specification, one such element is the meta element. For that element, each of those HTML specifications specifies attributes including the name attribute, specifies some names that can be values for that attribute (limited to one such value per such attribute per such element), and provides, in section 4.2.5.2 of each such HTML specification, a means by which extensional or additional names may be proposed to be values for that attribute, each such proposal to include a link to a specification for that extensional or additional name. This specification may appropriately be linked to from such a proposal.

This specification, as published on this page and which, except as otherwise stated, is normative, shall also apply, insofar as compatible, to any specification of the HTML Living Standard or of HTML 5.1 other than those referenced above and of any version preceding or succeeding HTML 5.1; except that it shall not apply to any page authored before this specification was first published (the date of such first publication being stated below).

Sec. 1.1: Definitions and Construction

The words and phrases must, must not, required, shall, shall not, should, should not, recommended, may, and optional in this specification and regardless of capitalization are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 (also known as BCP 14).

Authority as a mass noun is ‘purported ability to recognize expertise in another person or other entity or in a page on the World Wide Web’.

Expertise is as defined in the specification for the HTML meta element with the name attribute value set to “pro”.

The word field, as used in this specification, is a noun that means ‘subject’ or ‘topic’.

A partial URL is a ‘URL without the string within the URL to the left of the hostname’.

In this specification, if a string, including a null string and a non-null string with no visible or displaying characters, is rendered (including being displayed) with or surrounded by single quotation marks which are curved when a font in which this specification may be displayed has single quotation marks as both straight and curved or is rendered (including being displayed) with or surrounded by double quotation marks which are curved when a font in which this specification may be displayed has double quotation marks as both straight and curved, then the quotation marks that may thus be curved are, unless otherwise stated in this specification, not part of the string. Thus, generally, the string represented by “example” is only seven characters long, not nine.

Sec. 1.2: Problem Being Solved

This specification, together with those for the HTML meta elements with the name attribute value set to “pro”, “pro-auth-field”, or “pro-auth-fragment”, is intended to aid search engines and directory compilers in evaluating the authority of World Wide Web sites that purport to offer expertise; and other uses are not forbidden by this specification.

The balance of this subsection is non-normative.

With respect to all four of the elements: Expertise can be difficult to evaluate except by authorities on the same subject. Without reliable evaluations, search engine results may elevate inexpert websites above expert websites because of unrelated factors. A solution is to consider the advice of known knowledgeable authorities, especially those generally recognized for their authority. A professional organization, government agency, scholar, journalist, publisher of peer-reviewed works, judging panel awarding widely-respected merit-based prizes, or other entity that recognizes expertise within a fragment may be an authority that may recognize some specific websites as having related expertise. A website and an authority may agree with each other that the website likely provides expert content. Meta elements could establish that relationship. A search engine’s management could then decide how much trust or weight to give the authority. Judging each website’s level of expertise would not be necessary for the search engine to do, because that would be left to the authority who has a list of experts. The search engine’s management would only have to evaluate how much weight the particular authority deserves. Judging a small number of authorities would be easier than judging a large number of experts, saving the search engine’s human staff time and allowing more reliance on automated algorithms.

With respect to the element under this specification (“pro-auth”): An authority’s page/s would have this “pro-auth” metatag, but the tag by itself would not prove that the page is from an actual authority. That determination could be made by a search engine’s algorithms and humans. The page with this “pro-auth” metatag could have information and links. Information about the authority (such as credentials, achievements, and recognition) could be used by the search engine’s systems to judge how much weight to give the authority and therefore give to its links. As the information could easily change, setting up an RSS or Atom feed or Topper notifications could be helpful to search engine systems. If the information is inadequate or unsatisfactory, a search engine’s judgment would presumably be for little or no weight at all. Thus, trivial authorities and incompetent would-be authorities would get little encouragement to use this four-metatag system, as they’d be unlikely to benefit. The page with this “pro-auth” metatag could also have links to expert pages. The corresponding “pro” metatag would be on an expert’s page/s, so a search engine would know a relationship of authority exists. Where that relationship exists and a search engine agrees on the authority as deserving weight on the subject, experts so designated by the authority could get higher search result positions. To save time, a search engine would not have to review these relationships often over the years against becoming stale as content changes or should change, because each party could single-handedly pull out of its relationship at any time. It could review whether weight for an authority should be adjusted over time, but the weight in most cases would usually be stable, so reviews could generally be relatively rare.

Sec. 2: Method

If and only if the creator of the page claims to be an authority in at least one field and such authority claims to have knowledge of one or more experts each with at least a portion of a website page (such portion marked up with HTML markup so that the portion is identifiable by a fragment identifier) stating expertise in such a field, there may be an HTML meta element with the name attribute value set to “pro-auth” (the element herein referred to as “such meta ‘pro-auth’ element”). (Non-normatively, it is noted that this element would not ordinarily be added to every page of a website or to its home page, although exceptions are possible.) If such meta “pro-auth” element is present, it shall have the content attribute value set to include as a token a partial URL (the token herein referred to as the “partial URL”), the partial URL to be formed from the URL for the page on which the element is present, a portion of such page marked up with HTML markup so that the portion is identifiable by a fragment identifier, a portion of the website that includes such page provided such portion is by the same creator or set of creators, or the website that includes such page provided such website is by the same creator or set of creators (in this context, the distinction is between a website to which multiple creators cooperatively create and a website that permits multiple creators, perhaps for revenue from such creators, to create websites under the rubric of the one website, the former considered here as being “by the same creator or set of creators” and the latter not, although, non-normatively, it is noted that the distinction may sometimes be difficult or impossible to apply).

There may be more than one such meta “pro-auth” element, each with a different partial URL. (Non-normatively, it is noted that generally not every employee, contractor, creditor, investor, and customer is an expert with expertise in a given field who has posted expert content to the World Wide Web.) If there are more than one such meta “pro-auth” element with the same partial URL, all shall be determinative (non-normatively, this would be important if the elements functionally differ for another reason, generally the inclusion or omission of another token).

Any such partial URL may not include a wildcard but may include a question mark indicating a query component within the partial URL. Such partial URL shall not itself be a link. Such partial URL shall not depend on the presence of an HTML base element for a portion of the partial URL, regardless of the degree of similarity between the partial URL and the href attribute value (if any) of the base element.

A page to which any such meta “pro-auth” element is to be added is a page with authority-qualifying content. Authority-qualifying content is ‘at least some renderable content that includes any of the following’:

  • — ‘content establishing that the creator is an authority on expertise stated by another creator’, in which case in such meta “pro-auth” element the content attribute value should be set to include the space-separated caseless token “why” (such meta “pro-auth” element should be on all such pages except that it should not be on pages that are essentially redundant or less informative with respect to establishing authority) (non-normatively, it is noted that content so establishing may be divided across multiple pages, and possibly all such pages should have such meta “pro-auth” elements)

  • — ‘a link to at least one URL that is to at least a portion of a website page of an expert in at least one field, such portion marked up with HTML markup so that the portion is identifiable by a fragment identifier, in which field the creator claims to be an authority’, in which case in such meta “pro-auth” element the content attribute value should be set to include the space-separated caseless token “list” (such meta “pro-auth” element may be on each such page but should not be on a page that is essentially redundant) (non-normatively, different such links may be on multiple pages, and possibly all such pages should have such meta “pro-auth” elements)

Any such meta “pro-auth” element from which in the content attribute value both the token “why” and the token “list” are absent has with respect to such tokens the same meaning as such meta “pro-auth” element in which the content attribute value includes both such tokens.

If such meta “pro-auth” element is on a page that is not to be exposed to the Internet, in the content attribute value a publicly-undefined token may be present instead of the partial URL provided that “private” as a caseless token is also present and all of the tokens are space-separated from each other. A creator may create or accept a private definition for the publicly-undefined token and an owner of an off-Internet intranet or single computer may, insofar as allowed by law other than this specification, require such acceptance of such a private definition. In the event that such meta “pro-auth” element with such a content attribute value (including the token “private”) is exposed to the Internet, a user agent shall ignore the element.

Non-normatively, it is noted that authoring a page for exposure at one time to a user through the Internet and for exposure at another time to a user not through the Internet might be impracticable because it may be impossible or especially difficult for a user or a user agent to determine whether a request by a user agent for a file (or portion thereof) is transiting or will transit the Internet. Therefore, the balance of this paragraph is normative only if such determination can be made in an instance with respect to a file (or portion thereof) on which such meta “pro-auth” element is present. If a page may be exposed to the Internet at one or more times but not at one or more other times, there may be on such page at least two such meta “pro-auth” elements with at least one such meta “pro-auth” element having the content attribute value set for exposure to the Internet and at least one other such meta “pro-auth” element having the content attribute value set for no exposure to the Internet. If a user or user agent determines that the page (or portion thereof) was retrieved not through the Internet, the user agent shall not process any such meta “pro-auth” element from which in the content attribute value the token “private” is absent. If a user or user agent determines that the page (or portion thereof) was retrieved possibly through the Internet, the user agent shall not process any such meta “pro-auth” element in which in the content attribute value the token “private” is present.

If more than one such meta “pro-auth” element with the content attribute value not including the token “private” are present, all such meta “pro-auth” elements shall be determinative and the content attribute values shall be processed as having no additional weight due to duplication of such meta “pro-auth” element or of any token in the content attriibute value.

Any such meta “pro-auth” element with the content attribute value not including the token “private” may include the caseless token “public” space-separated from any other token in such content attribute value. The meaning of the token “public” is the same as the meaning of the absence of both of the tokens “private” and “public”. Both of the tokens “private” and “public” shall not be in the same such meta “pro-auth” element and if both of the tokens “private” and “public” are present in the same such meta “pro-auth” element then the two such tokens in such meta “pro-auth” element shall have the same meaning as if the token “public” was absent. Non-normatively, it is noted that the token “public” is offered for stylistic consistency and for convenience in discussing any such meta “pro-auth” element.

The absence of such meta “pro-auth” element shall not have a meaning.

This specification does not require or recommend that any entity have any responsibility for any person, website, content, or usage not otherwise the responsibility of such entity. The duty of such entity to act in accordance with law is irrespective of this specification. Non-normatively, it is noted that such entity should consider the risks of authority and of claiming, providing, publishing, associating with, and promoting purported authority with respect to expertise and may disclaim to the extent permitted by law.

This paragraph is non-normative. The creator of a page with such meta “pro-auth” element may solicit requests from creators who wish to be recognized as experts but need not do so and, if doing so, may use any procedure for soliciting and responding to such requests that it wishes to use.

Anyone (this non-normatively includes search engines and Web directory editors) may use other means to evaluate the degree of authority to provide or recognize for a page that purports to offer authority on expertise and may decline so to evaluate.

Non-normatively, it is noted that, for the purpose of this specification and for a partial URL, a link element would be less conformant with HTML and not more useful than would be a meta element, because the partial URL in that element’s content value is not intended to be a link in itself and, if present in a link element, may not include a fragment identifier or be limited to a multi-page directory or website and the link element may not be sufficiently extensible as to the relationship the link element is to establish for a page to encompass the purpose intended by this specification; and fulfilling the purpose intended by this specification does not require proposing that an HTML specification be enhanced.

Sec. 3: Security, History, and Backwards Compatibility

This section is non-normative except as otherwise stated.

Sec. 3.1: Security

A creator or website owner may prefer privacy against disclosing to the public whom the creator or owner, respectively or not, believes to be expert and whom not, but use of this meta element may preclude such privacy. Otherwise, no security implication has been identified with respect to this specification.

Sec. 3.2: History

The original author and editor of this specification, except as otherwise stated, was Nick Levinson, who can be contacted through a link on this page.

Prior to the publication of this specification, consideration was given to requiring entry of strings identifying entities (such as organizations and individuals) in lieu of URLs, but it was decided that such strings would need an expensive central database containing millions of the strings and needing maintenance and revenue and that some strings would simply be put into use without being entered into the database, leading to risks of inclarity, intellectual property infringement, and conflict through duplication; but this planned requirement was rejected in favor of partial URLs.

Version 1 of this specification was published on this page on . Version 1 was revised into version 1.0.1, published on . Version 1.0.1 was revised into this version.

Sec. 3.3: Backwards Compatibility

In a future version, backwards compatibility should be provided.

Sec. 4: Intellectual Property For This Specification

Sec. 4.1: Copyright Status

Insofar as lawful, with respect to the CC0 1.0 Universal legal tool (herein “CC0”) (summarized at https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) (both URLs as accessed ) of the Creative Commons Corporation, Nick Levinson, the original author and editor of this specification, has, upon first publication of this specification, hereby become the Affirmer under CC0 and hereby elected to apply CC0 to this specification, to publicly distribute this specification, and to make this specification available all as provided for in CC0 and hereby waived, abandoned, surrendered, granted, affirmed, offered, and disclaimed all as provided for in CC0 with respect to this specification.

Sec. 4.2: Trademarks, Endorsements, and Associations

“Creative Commons” is a trademark of Creative Commons Corporation; use of such trademark does not imply endorsement by or association with Creative Commons Corporation.

“CC0” is a trademark of Creative Commons Corporation; use of such trademark does not imply endorsement by or association with Creative Commons Corporation.

Sec. 4.3: Other Claims

Except as otherwise referenced, the original author and editor of this specification, Nick Levinson, is not aware of any claim by any other person or entity to intellectual property adversely affecting this specification.

Sec. 5: Section Titles Not Restrictive

Titles of sections, including subsections at all subsectional depths, are provided solely for convenience and do not restrict the meaning of the content of the respective sections. Titles of sections include headlines of sections.