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Best Practice and no brainer practice; normative and non-normativ e

From: McBride, Brian <brian.mcbride@hp.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 11:30:54 +0100
Message-ID: <E864E95CB35C1C46B72FEA0626A2E808026A12F0@0-mail-br1.hpl.hp.com>
To: SWBPD list <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>

At the last telecon I failed to resist the temptation to exploit a little
irony and made some facetious remarks that I would now like to clarify.

The question in my mind is how strong a hint do we give to the new user over
using a particular approach in the ontology patterns notes.  I have been
thinking that there will be readers who will turn to these notes and want a
quick answer on how to do something.  These users don't want to evaluate the
different options; they just want to get on with it.

However, this has to be balanced against the fact that if we make too strong
a statement about which approach to take, it might be thought we think we
have the power and the wisdom to define what is best practice.  An esteemed
colleague has pointed out that anything written in a W3C document can be
interpretted by some as being normative, the distinction between rec and
note not being understood.  By chance I was reading a book by Dennet over
the weekend where he emphasised that philophers and engineers are
responsible not only for what they say, but also for the ways what they say
is likely to be misunderstood.

Now, I accept that it will not always be appropriate to suggest a single
approach, and perhaps the classes as values note is one such case. However,
I wonder if we can find a standard form of words that we can use where
appropriate to point readers in a hurry to the solution that is likely to be
most appropriate for them.  Something like perhaps:

[[
This document lists a number of solutions to this problem and the reader is
advised to read the considerations section of each before deciding which is
best for his application.  For the reader in a hurry, we suggest that
approach X is most likely to be suitable.
]]

I am now of the opinion that these hints are a relatively minor service for
our readers, so I don't intend to make anything further of this.  This
suggestion will find favour or not with the editors of the OEP notes.

Brian
Received on Monday, 14 June 2004 06:32:00 UTC

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