[SPEC] Backwards-compatible metadata in Gemini

PJ vM pjvm742 at disroot.org
Wed Feb 24 16:25:19 GMT 2021

On 24/02/2021 15:26, John Cowan wrote:
> A search engine is a server with respect to its users, but a client 
> (of a special kind) with respect to the servers it is indexing.

It is maybe important to note that much Gemini content is written with
just a text editor, by people who might not want to neatly structure
their metadata according to the convention. I'm not sure it would be a
good thing for search engines to rely much on metadata - the term
"search engine optimisation" comes to mind.

> However, it does not mean that metadata is useless to the *user*. For
> example, a user who wishes to do something more with the document 
> than just read it can look for "rights" metadata to see what is and 
> isn't allowed. This can be a Creative Commons or FSF/OSI license
> name or tag, or just plain text.

The user can also look for a line that says "This work is licensed
under...". Metadata need not be structured for human users to understand it.

Anyway, I think there are uses for in-file metadata, particularly for
searching a large collection of documents. And sure, it could be useful
to adopt a convention (either the "-:" line thing or the key-value pairs
at the end of the file thing, or something else entirely) just so that
people would have one way to do this that is commonly understood, and so
that broadly usable tools could be written for using metadata. However,
I don't think it is useful in most of Geminispace, and it should not be
used in places where there isn't a need for it. I definitely think we
should avoid it becoming an expectation for people who write stuff, or
for Gemini clients.

I also think we should choose a convention that is simple and not easily
extensible. The key-value pairs at the end of the file thing seems a bit
better on non-extensibility - it's definitely better on readability.


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