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5.2.5. Associated Meta-information: META Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5.2.5. Associated Meta-information: META

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5.2.5. Associated Meta-information: META

5.2.5. Associated Meta-information: META

The <META> element is an extensible container for use in identifying specialized document meta-information. Meta-information has two main functions:

  • to provide a means to discover that the data set exists and how it might be obtained or accessed; and

  • to document the content, quality, and features of a data set, indicating its fitness for use.

Each <META> element specifies a name/value pair. If multiple META elements are provided with the same name, their combined contents-- concatenated as a comma-separated list--is the value associated with that name.

    NOTE - The <META> element should not be used where a specific element, such as <TITLE>, would be more appropriate. Rather than a <META> element with a URI as the value of the CONTENT attribute, use a <LINK> element.

HTTP servers may read the content of the document <HEAD> to generate header fields corresponding to any elements defining a value for the attribute HTTP-EQUIV.

    NOTE - The method by which the server extracts document meta-information is unspecified and not mandatory. The <META> element only provides an extensible mechanism for identifying and embedding document meta-information -- how it may be used is up to the individual server implementation and the HTML user agent.

Attributes of the META element:

HTTP-EQUIV
binds the element to an HTTP header field. An HTTP server may use this information to process the document. In particular, it may include a header field in the responses to requests for this document: the header name is taken from the HTTP-EQUIV attribute value, and the header value is taken from the value of the CONTENT attribute. HTTP header names are not case sensitive.

NAME
specifies the name of the name/value pair. If not present, HTTP-EQUIV gives the name.

CONTENT
specifies the value of the name/value pair.

Examples

If the document contains:

    <META HTTP-EQUIV="Expires"
          CONTENT="Tue, 04 Dec 1993 21:29:02 GMT">
    <meta http-equiv="Keywords" CONTENT="Fred">
    <META HTTP-EQUIV="Reply-to"
          content="fielding@ics.uci.edu (Roy Fielding)">
    <Meta Http-equiv="Keywords" CONTENT="Barney">

then the server may include the following header fields:

    Expires: Tue, 04 Dec 1993 21:29:02 GMT
    Keywords: Fred, Barney
    Reply-to: fielding@ics.uci.edu (Roy Fielding)

as part of the HTTP response to a `GET' or `HEAD' request for that document.

An HTTP server must not use the <META> element to form an HTTP response header unless the HTTP-EQUIV attribute is present.

An HTTP server may disregard any <META> elements that specify information controlled by the HTTP server, for example `Server', `Date', and `Last-modified'.


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