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Re: Some problems with the WebDAV protocol

From: Yoram Last <ylast@mindless.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 22:41:00 +0300
Message-ID: <37221E4C.19D3D596@mindless.com>
To: Greg Stein <gstein@lyra.org>
CC: ejw@ics.uci.edu, WEBDAV WG <w3c-dist-auth@w3.org>
> > It seems to me that some of your bogus (in my mind, at least) arguments
> > below are the result of a misinterpretation of what the HTTP protocol
> > is and how it works. I would thus like to start with a fairly general
> > description.
> >...
> > So I'm really very sorry this is the case, and I tried to explain it as
> > well as I could, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone in the process, and
> > I'm tired myself of the whole thing, but I think that your protocol is
> > broken and that you should fix it. It is your protocol and you can
> > obviously do what you want, but trying to dismiss a significant design
> > error by using faulty arguments will not solve the problem.
> 
> You open your email with a paragraph that is highly insulting and
> patronizing to Jim,

Given that I'm not a native speaker of English, nor versed at the
particular speech culture of this group, it is very hard for me to predict
how certain things end up being interpreted. My opening paragraph starts
with "It seems to me" than has "(in my mind, at least)" following the
terrible word "bogus", and then this is being related to "a misinterpretation"
(which in itself suggests things can and do have different interpretations).
Furthermore, you might note that this whole paragraph does not at all
relate to Jim, but rather to certain arguments that he made in the context
of a specific debate. It is intended to convey the information that (in
the context of this debate) Jim and I interpret some things in totally
different ways (and it is then followed by a very lengthy description of how
*I* interpret them). This paragraph is not aimed to claim any fact beyond
saying that Jim and I seem to have very different views of certain things.
Now if you say that it ends up coming across as "highly insulting and
patronizing to Jim" then I must take your word for it and apologize (again)
for wording things in an inappropriate manner. This was not the intended
message of this paragraph. 

> yet you don't understand how you are offending
> people?

Some parts of my message where intentionally stated in bold terms.
Since my previous arguments in this matter ended up being dismissed,
it seemed to me like I need to choose between folding my tail between
my legs and letting it go, or trying to present my case in the strongest
possible way. Given that the message which I am trying to get across is
of an inherently unpleasant nature, I was knowingly aware of the fact
that some people may find some portions of my message offensive and that
doing things in this way will not make me popular. However, I was (and
still am) hoping that people will read my arguments in spite of their
unpleasant nature, and that by presenting them in the strongest (albeit
unpleasant) possible terms they will end up having a convincing effect
that I did not know how to achieve otherwise. I might have done the
wrong thing. Time will tell.

> Also, to come to Jim's aid here: I would simply state that he is
> very well versed in HTTP/1.1. If he has a question, then he turns around
> in his office to ask his office-mate Roy Fielding (and I'm sure you've
> seen Roy's name on the HTTP/1.1 spec). Of the people involved in this
> "discussion", I would suggest that your claim of a misinterpretation on
> Jim's part is patently wrong.

I never questioned the fact that Jim is "very well versed in HTTP/1.1."
However, some things can (and do) have different interpretations, and
an interpretation is something that usually depends on the context in
which it is made. I claimed that some of Jim's interpretation of certain
wordings in HTTP/1.1 is inappropriate for the context at hand. I further
tend to believe that the real context in which this interpretation was
made is the context of trying to rebut some of my own claims in this matter,
which is not the same as the context of what these wordings really mean in
practical situations that are relevant to this matter. People that engage
themselves in debates are free to use arguments, but they should also be
prepared for the possibility that the other side would try to rebut their
arguments. Lawyers do that all time. Now my own view of Jim's message was
as one aimed towards dismissing my basic claim (that there are certain
problems in RFC 2518 that should be fixed) by using certain arguments,
and I saw it as within my legitimate right to try and rebut these arguments
to the best of my ability. There where no personal intentions here of
any kind. I was trying to use reason (even if somewhat boldly worded)
in order to rebut certain arguments. This whole thing need not be
taken at the kind of personal level you seem to attach to it, and it was
never intended to be interpreted in such a context.

> That said, it is also fair to note that
> Roy said that he agreed with some of your points.

Yes. I noted. But, I got the impression that the main people that are
involved in creating the WebDAV protocol are mostly trying to dismiss
my claims without having truly compelling arguments to do so.

> Regardless of the merits of your email, I only skimmed the thing. That
> opening paragraph and the length simply made me say "fuck it" and ignore
> it.

The "length" took a considerable effort on my part to produce. I wish I
had known how to try and convey my message in a shorter way. While it may
be hard for you to imagine, I too have some other things to do with my time.
The basic message of "fuck it" is what I felt I was getting anyway in
response to my previous postings in this matter (even if it was worded in
more polite terms), so I didn't think I had that much to loose here.

> You have zero credibility with me, and I would posit with many of
> the others in this forum that you are attempting to "persuade".

Now you are really pushing the argument to a very personal level. While I
may be sympathetic if you say that I'm a rude arrogant SOB, I don't see
why my "credibility" should be affected. In any event, I do not hold any
hard feelings towards you. I really do see the whole thing as something
that should be discussed at an intellectual level. I further think that
getting overly sentimental and personal about such things cripples one's
ability to have a proper intellectual discussion. I don't think this
would be a good thing in an IETF workgroup. 

> You certainly won't "solve the problem" by offending people and trying
> to overwhelm them with lengthy email.

I am making a sincere attempt to try and get a certain thing (that I
consider to be a significant problem) fixed, and it had already required
a considerable effort on my part (which was not originally planned for).
Winning anyone's respect or affection was not my goal here, and if I end
up loosing some of those, then this is an additional price that I would
need to pay. I hope that people will look at my arguments in spite of their
unpleasant nature, and draw those conclusions which I believe to be inevitable.
Now obviously, if most people will be looking at this whole thing from a
sentimental point of view, and would consider their potential dislike of
my presentation as a valid reason to ignore my message, then my effort is
not likely to have a constructive outcome. I am still hoping, though, that
this would not be the case.


Yoram
Received on Saturday, 24 April 1999 15:41:56 GMT

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