[SPEC] Backwards-compatible metadata in Gemini

Stephane Bortzmeyer stephane at sources.org
Wed Feb 24 12:09:49 GMT 2021

On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 08:08:48PM +0100,
 nothien at uber.space <nothien at uber.space> wrote 
 a message of 72 lines which said:

>     They're not necessary.

Nothing is necessary (except eating and breathing) but metadata are

> What's the /point/ of standardizing a format for providing metadata
> about a document?  Seriously, I don't understand.

This argument surprised me. All the people who professionally manage
documents use metadata. I didn't think it was necessary to explain
their uses. So, let's try;

> What's the benefit of letting a client know who the author is?  If
> you, an author, want users to know that you wrote something, just
> write "I wrote this".

Using structured metadata allows you to search into documents those
written, by John Guy (or Alice Gal). grep or other tools for
unstructured searches don't help here since they cannot tell the
difference between a page written by Alice Gal and a page discussing
the life of Alice Gal.

Other examples of useful metadata: date of publication so you can
find, for instance, the most recent, or exclude those that are too old
/ too young, licence, so you can find "only documents under a free
licence", etc.

Basically, it is not because YOU don't use them and don't see the
point of them that nobody does.

> just write in full sentences ('this was written on the 23rd of
> February').

This is not parsable, so useless for programs.

> The problem with 'just' posting ideas and suggestions and proposals like
> these is that they waste everyone's time (including yours).

I strongly disagree. What's the point of this mailing list if not to
discuss ideas when some of them (may be most of them) will turn out to
be wrong? We can think of better tools for discussion, of course
(separate mailing lists, issue trackers, whatever), but we need a
place to receive and discuss ideas.

Otherwise, what will happen? Since the Internet is permissionless,
people will do it anyway. And probably in a worse way. If "we" (we
being "the Wise Gemini People" or "Gemini Experts" or something like
that) reject everything (or even if we are PERCEIVED as rejecting
everything), people will do it elsewhere and may be do it badly. We
cannot (and don't want to) prevent people from doing Gemini stuff
outside of the "Gemini Official Channels" but we can at least act in
good faith, and propose them a serious and documented way to have
proposals examined (and may be rejected, but not dismissed without a
serious examination).

> We (and I'm speaking for a lot of people here) are tired of dealing
> with new ideas from eager new Geminiauts

Then, the solution is for these people to stop subscribing to the
[spec] tag (or move to a separate mailing list, my personal opinion is
that we need several lists).

And new Geminauts are a good thing, this is the goal we try to reach.

> Read the spec, read the FAQ, read the companion documents, read the
> mailing list, and /understand/ the spirit of Gemini.

This is really patronizing. Most people who sent proposals on the
mailing list clearly know about Gemini and studied the matter
seriously. Of course, there are some guys sending stupid wild ideas
but they are a very small (and unavoidable) minority.

Your contempt is the kind of attitude which risk to turn away people,
either completely away from Gemini, or towards a de-facto fork.

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