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Sure, but if it's going to treat it like HTML, then why not just send proper HTML?

Agreed. However, if you are not sure that every single bit of code in your application produces valid HTML then you are much safer with the text/html MIME type. As for the SGML vs XHTML debate, I'd rather not get into that since the whole thing got a bit religious at this point.

XHTML is proper HTML5.

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