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Which meta tags would you consider to be worth listing on a site, for whatever reasons?
1. Content type
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<meta name="description" content="A short description of your page here.">
<meta name="keywords" content="widgets redwidgets foobars">
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">
is unneccessary - the bots will index anything not specifically excluded, so the "all" is implicit.
5. Image toolbar
<meta http-equiv="imagetoolbar" content="false">
6. Author, Revisit-after, fifteen million other things
<meta name="favorite-fuzzy-animal" content="koala">
Conclusion - there should be a maximum of five meta tags on your site, and most of the time, you can get away with one or two - or maybe none at all.
I never dropped the keywords tag when the search engines stopped using it, because I see it as a very handy place to keep notes about what words my page is targeting. I often have as few as 2 or 3 kws in there, and rarely more than 8.
Having said that, PICS labels can successfully be sent as an HTTP header too, possibly avoiding the need for another meta tag.
Of course, if you want to classify a document and you can't rely on the metadata, you have to use another method: for example, a third-party classification dependent on on-page factors, inbound links, etc. all arranged according to a complex algorithm - the best-known of which is Google.
Otherwise, we could all try putting something like
<meta name="DC.Googlerank.position" content="1">
You never know, it might work... ;)
See also Metacrap [well.com] which covers the problem in more excruciating detail than you'd ever need.
(Sorry about the double post)
However, on an intranet many can be invaluable. The "closed" environment makes "truth" in meta-data more likely than out in the world wild web and the author/date originated/date updated/version/contributors/etc. elements can be used to narrow searches.
As usual with anything computers, if you see a need, use it; if not, do not.
And what about the author meta tag? Its contents are short, but is it nevertheless a waste of space?
For example, I work in a government organisation which has 40,000+ web pages and also has a large corporate intranet. We have our own search engine (we use htdig) which we use for searching our own pages (both internet and intranet). We have a corporate policy of using the Dublin core standard metatags plus half a dozen others. We configure the search engine to give special weighting to different metatags to give us the most useful ranking possible. So for us, the kewords metatag is very useful, so is date.modified, and so are others that are not often used by other sites.
In conclusion: How you choose to use metatags to record information about your pages depends on your particular circumstances.