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The Alternates response-header field has been proposed as a means for the origin server to inform the client about other available representations of the requested resource, along with their distinguishing attributes, and thus providing a more reliable means for a user agent to perform subsequent selection of another representation which better fits the desires of its user (described as agent-driven negotiation in section 12).

The Alternates header field is orthogonal to the Vary header field in that both may coexist in a message without affecting the interpretation of the response or the available representations. It is expected that Alternates will provide a significant improvement over the server-driven negotiation provided by the Vary field for those resources that vary over common dimensions like type and language.

The Alternates header field will be defined in a future specification.

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