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   Metadata and titles

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 16:25:37 +0100

I know I have been described as too grandfatherly [I'm not one - yet...] on
this list, but please can I make a plea for our use of titles.

Titles like:
	Re: Irony heaped on irony (packaging and schemas)
can cause problems...

	Since we are currently talking about semantics, the words we choose are
very important. [Carroll and Borges can use "Irony heaped on irony" to mean
"syntax or semantics" and later use the same character string to mean
"latest release of IE5 parser", but it causes problems for many of us.]

Titles serve (at least) the following purposes:
	- a description of the material before opening the message. This is
important since many XML-DEVers are busy and read so much mail that they
wish to delete some before reading. The only useful metadata they have are:
		date [*-04-01]
	[I imagine that many experienced readers delete messages with "LISTRIVIA"
in the title - quite appropriately, whereas newcomers are excited to read

 If the subject matter changes under a given title, a reader may delete it

	Even more importantly, it is important to give consideration to those who
find it hard to read the messages, such as non-anglophones and those with
accessibility concerns. In XML2000 Scandinavia, I was told of two
colleagues (independently) who read through Braille readers, 40 or 80 chars
at a time. Here it is extremely important to give guidance as to the
content of the posting. [It would be useful to know of XML-DEV readers who
know of ways to make mail lists more accessible and whether we could do
anything about it.] This is the major reason that I keep reminding posters
of the length of messages, the need to snip signatures and the need for

	- a tool for hypermailers to use for organising threads. It would be very
useful to have views on this. [Recently I joined FOP-DEV@apache.org. Some
of the header fields contained munged information which meant that even
when I changed the subject completely, the reply appeared to be in the same
thread. Is this a useful way forward or harmful?
	If a subject has pre- or app-ended characters [other than Re:] does this
help the hypermailer, or does it treat it as a new subject? Perhaps Karl
can suggest what the current tool(s) do.

	- a tool for indexing the discussions. This is really important, because
we are currently discussing a major aspect of the future of the web. Many
of us will wish to re-read a lot of what has been written, and the only
guide we have is titles. [Query: is there any way that metadata can be
added to mailing lists?] Indexing bots will not be much use on the present
content, I suspect, and the titles are critical.
	I am not suggesting that we have to have completely boring titles! [I
don't know where the "irony" one came from - was it a crossposting?] But
when the subject changes it is worth thinking of changing it.


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