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[glossary] Re: 24 January 2002 WCAG WG minutes - Definition of Normative

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 08:00:40 -0500 (EST)
To: <jonathan.odonnell@ngv.vic.gov.au>
cc: WAI GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, WAI Cross-group list <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0201310746560.4512-100000@tux.w3.org>
Moved to xtech (cause it is glossary discussion), and because there was a
discussion in the AU group this week about explicitly using normative and
non-normative as they are important technical terms.

Please follow this thread up on the xtech list and not on WCAG.

Thread starts in WCAG at
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2002JanMar/0186 (pointing to
an older thread). Continues in xtech archives...

The definition in the User agent guidelines seems to be a little vague. As I
understand it, it could be rephrased as "the things that are included in the
most concise version of the guidelines"

But I don't think that is what it means. As I understand it, it means "the
things that are required by the guidelines, as opposed to information that is
provided to make them easier to understand. For example, the text of a
checkpoint is normative, but the introduction section of the guidelines is
informative, or non-normative, because it isn't part of the formal
requirements of the guidelines"

or something like that.

I agree with Jonathan that if we are going to use thhis term (and it seems
that we should) that we should provide a good clear definition based on the
technical meaning normally given in standards writing.

I think that where we introduce the term - for the first time in a single
page version of the guidelines - we should give a very clear plain english
explanation of what it means.

I suggest also that the first time it appears in a single page document (e.g.
there are guidelines and techniques documents that are broken into multiple
web pages) we should try to find a short equivalent phrasing. For example:

  The techniques in this document are not normative requirements (i.e. it is
  not compulsory to implement them in order to claim conformance to the
  XXX specification), but informative, or non-normative, guidance provided by
  the working group.

And I think that the word should be linked to the glossary wherever it
appears - it is a word with a lot of different technical meanings it seems,
and not a very common english word.

chaals

On Thu, 31 Jan 2002, Jonathan O'Donnell wrote:

   --- goliver@accease.com wrote: > In the minutes
  Annuska asks for a definition of
  > normative
  > Annuska you may be interested in the thread that
  > starts
  >
  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2001OctDec/0101.html

  Hi Graham and others

  In that thread, Anne Pemberton describes how people in
  the Education discipline understand 'normative'. [1]

  Other disciplines have widely differing definitions.

  Economics:
  "Normative: subjective, value laden, emotional" [2]
  This seems to be exactly opposite to our
  understanding.

  Ethics:
  "...normative theory tries to tell us how things ought
  to be (people ought to be honest)" [3]
  As opposed to Descriptive theory, which "...tries to
  explain how things are (e.g., this paper is white)"

  And even studies of the future:
  "The word, "Normative," then, is a type of foresight
  that deals with preferable futures" [4]
  As opposed to 'plausable', or 'possible' futures.

  It seems that we should use it in the very strict
  sense of the discourse on standards, or not use it at
  all.

  The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 defines it
  as:
  "...that on which the requirements of this document
  depend for their most precise statement." [5]
  Can't we just point to that definition?

  [1]
  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-gl/2001OctDec/0109.html

  [2]
  http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/are012/lecture/lectur1/tsld005.htm

  [3]  http://www.stedwards.edu/ursery/norm.htm

  [4]  http://www.cl.uh.edu/futureweb/spaceship.html

  [5]  http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/glossary.html#def-normative

  =====
  Jonathan O'Donnell
  mailto:jonathan.odonnell@ngv.vic.gov.au
  http://purl.nla.gov.au/net/jod

  http://my.yahoo.com.au - My Yahoo!
  - It's My Yahoo! Get your own!


-- 
Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI    fax: +1 617 258 5999
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Received on Thursday, 31 January 2002 08:00:51 GMT

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