Re: Last Call: UTF-16, an encoding of ISO 10646 to Informational

From: Keith Moore (
Date: Sun Aug 15 1999 - 16:00:25 EDT

> > The idea of MIME is that the sender can tell the receiver what he has used.
> > Nothing else.
> >
> Then it's a bad idea. Because it has led to the insupportable situation we
> have now with email.

The alternative is worse: people will still send proprietary stuff,
(and some vendors will still build MUAs that favor use of their
proprietary data formats, to try to make their competitors' products
look bad), but they'll either do so without accurate labelling
(e.g. mislabelling vendor-proprietary-codepage as iso-8859-1)
or without precise labelling (e.g. labelling everything as
application/octet-stream and expecting recipients to guess the
content-type based on the filename suffix). In fact, both of these
have been done, the products are widely deployed, and those products
cause interoperability problems.

Furthermore, the strategy you suggest has been tried, and it failed.
Very early in the lifetime of MIME we tried to restrict content-type
definitions to standard or interchange types, and we quickly found
out that it didn't fly - people would either mislabel types, or
they would make up their own type names without registering them.

At least when the labelling is accurate, the recipient has some chance
of being able to do an appropriate conversion.


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