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Re: Normative and Non-Normative - Why?

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 11:25:00 +1000
Message-ID: <15308.56812.93024.700340@gargle.gargle.HOWL>
To: Web Content Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I think the confusion lies in a failure to distinguish between the
meaning of "normative" and the implications which it has for our

The meaming of the word, quite literally, is essentially this:
Normative means in effect, "of the rule"--that is, whatever is
normative, is the rule/requirement that must be followed in order to
implement the specification.

The remaining so-called "definitions" are not genuine definitions at
all, but rather consequences of this basic meaning.

I am unaware of any official definition of the term, apart from what
one would find in a good dictionary. I think the word should be
included in the glossary, however, to avoid any future
misunderstandings by readers of the guidelines; and perhaps the
paragraph which explains what parts of the document are normative,
should also make clear what this means.

The terminology (normative vs. informative) is very familiar to people
who write and read specifications, and hence it should be used
appropriately in our documents. However, for the benefit of those who
aren't familiar with the terminology it should be defined.

I would like to propose two solutions (and if there are no sustained
objections on the list over the next several days I will regard these
as agreed upon):

1. We add "normative" and "informative" (with appropriate definitions)
   as glossary entries.

2. We ensure that the paragraph of the WCAG 2.0 introduction which
   explains the distinction between normative and informative text in
   the guidelines, is sufficiently clear and precise, with ample
   explanations (this would be an action item for the editors).
Received on Tuesday, 16 October 2001 21:25:07 UTC

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