Welcome to the forums, sderenzi.
Yes, a transitional HTML 4.01 doctype seems fine for your purposes. I'd suggest you use a full doctype, however, like this:
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">
Notice that it includes the W3C URL - this will ensure that Explorer 6 displays in standards mode.
As for the meta tags - most of them have little use as far as search engines, although you may want to place them there for other reasons (finctions internal to your site, or to declare your ownership very clearly).
As for the specific the meta tags, here are some comments:
1. abstract, author, copyright, date
These are not read by search engines. I would save the files size and not use them, unless you have solid need for some reasons.
Many times, this tag will show up below your title on search engine results. You probably want full sentences, and not a list of words and phrases here.
Again, not read by the SEs, and not commonly used.
Barely used by major search engines, but fine to include. Just don't agonize over it. I notice that you separated your words with both a comma and a space. Use just one or the other - no need to waste file size.
Not really needed. Your DTD and charset meta tag handle it just fine.
OK, if you have some concern that MS Smart Tags will ever be an issue. It looks like MS backed off on these plans because of the uproar they caused, so I don't worry with this one either.
7. publisher, rating, reply-to
I also think these are a waste of bandwidth.
Unless you use a third party search engine (for your own internal search for instance) that uses this tag, it's of no use. Major search engines ignore it.
9. <meta name="robots" content="all,index,follow">
The correct syntax is simply "index,follow". However, if that is the behavior you want (index the page and follow the links), that's what robots will already do by default - so no meta tag is needed. So I'd only use this if you want some combination of noindex or nofollow for a particular page.
Definitely don't bother. But DO begin your head section with an HTML <title></title> element, preferably right after your DTD.
IN years gone by, when search engines were very crude, text-match affairs, putting a long list of meta information in the head "may" have helped a bit in some cases. It does nothing for you today, however.
One more comment - you asked about the frames on your site and the DTD. The HTML 4.01 frameset DTD is only needed if you are writing STRICT html, as far as I know. But with transitional code your chosen DTD is fine for a page, with or without frames.
<edit>I was completely wrong in the above statement - the frameset doctype IS what you need for any HTML 4 frameset page. My apology to anyone I misled.</edit>
The W3C's list of full DTD's is here:
[edited by: tedster at 4:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 27, 2004]