[SPEC] Backwards-compatible metadata in Gemini

Lars Noodén lars.nooden at gmx.com
Tue Feb 23 09:15:56 GMT 2021

On 2/23/21 10:05 AM, Stephane Bortzmeyer wrote:
> The good point is that it already exists so we don't reinvent
> the wheel.


Some of this depends on what kind of metadata we are talking about.

I am reluctant to discuss extension.  I would have to say that the only
 topic of potential interest to me [1] in that area would be about
document metadata: Gemini is about transmission of information and
metadata is information.  By document metadata I mean information
/about/ the document content.

As for the questions of network budget, fingerprinting, pressure to
include, and complexity[2], those can be addressed.

If the document metadata is in the body of the document, then there are
no extra network requests.  That addresses fingerprinting and mostly
addresses network budget.

The metadata does not have to be marked up in a difficult manner to be
both machine readable and human readable.  Borrowing from the link
syntax [3],


which could look like this in the body, but would be up to the client as
to how it is dealt with.  Left unprocessed, it would degrade gracefully
and be quite readable.

=:	dc.title	A Random Title
=:	dc.date 	2021-02-23
=:	keywords	cat; dog; bird

Again, by being included anywhere inside the body, there would be no
extra network calls.

There should be no requirement as to what is in the metadata, which
terms are allowed, or what the terms mean.  Any extension should say
only how terms may be included and leave the rest up to the capsule and
the client software.  Otherwise the details would lead to discussions
which would last years [4] at best while also reinventing the wheel.

If a tipping point is ever reached regarding use then there might be
some pressure for clients to support it.  But if the trajectory follows
that of HTML metadata, its use will be inconsistent, niche, and

Anyway, the type(s) of metadata would be up to the capsule owner to pick
and for them follow a schema or vocabulary or not.

All that said, there is usually more to gain by KISS than by extension
or creeping featurism.


[1] I (a retired digital libraries specialist) got into setting up a
Gemini capsule only two weeks ago but used to run a gopher site both
back when it was relevant and in more recent years as an Onion service.
 As for the WWW, I did not get into running any Web sites until 1994,
the second of which was briefly so visited by the end of that year that
it caused a local network outage.

[2] https://lists.orbitalfox.eu/archives/gemini/2021/005504.html

[3] Project Gemini : Speculative specification

[4] See also The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative.  What started out as a
consensus of a common descriptive core, a simple, no-nonsense list of 15
semantic metadata terms which could fit on a single web page,


has morphed since the 1990s into this egregious monstrosity:


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