If I don't want to update a resource, but I just want to check if something is valid (in my case, a SQL query), what's the correct REST method?
I'm not GETting a resource (yet). I'm not PUTting, POSTing, or PATCHing anything (yet). I'm simply sending part of a form back for validation that only the server can do. Another equivalent would be checking that a password conforms to complexity requirements that can only be known by the domain, or perhaps there are other use cases.
Send object, validate, return response, continue with form. Using REST. Any ideas? Am I missing something?
What is the correct REST method for performing server side validation?
Asking whether a representation is valid should have no side effects on the server; therefore it should be safe.
If the representation that you want to validate can be expressed within the URI, then, you should prefer to use GET, as it is the simplest choice, and gives you the best semantics for caching the answer. For example, if we were trying to use a web site to create a validation api for a text (and XML or JSON validator, for instance), then we would probably have a form with a text area control, and construct the identifier that we need by processing the form input.
If the representation that you want to validate cannot be expressed within the URI, then you are going to need to put it into the message body.
Additional methods, outside the scope of this specification, have been standardized for use in HTTP. All such methods ought to be registered within the "Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) Method Registry" maintained by IANA, as defined in Section 8.1.
So maybe REPORT, which is defined in RFC 3253; I tend to steer clear of WebDAV methods, as I'm not comfortable stretching specifications for "remote Web content authoring operations" outside of their remit.