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RE: Fw: CfC: Close ISSUE-177: ietf-id-wip by Amicable Resolution (ACTION-350)

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:13:36 -0800
To: "Michael[tm] Smith" <mike@w3.org>, "julian.reschke@gmx.de" <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
CC: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>, Karl Dubost <karld@opera.com>
Message-ID: <C68CB012D9182D408CED7B884F441D4D06A86D3589@nambxv01a.corp.adobe.com>
Under TAG ACTION-350 I originally took on
https://www.w3.org/2001/tag/group/track/actions/350 

to carry forward a "best practice" around references to updating specifications
(draft http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2009Oct/0075.html)

In the course of discussion of this as a potential TAG finding, Karl Dubost  noted an existing w3c recommendation
   http://www.w3.org/TR/qaframe-spec/#ref-define-practice 
covering the topic. 

This Recommendation (qaframe-spec) represents a community consensus for references from one document to another; my current take is that any additional TAG work on ACTION-350 should be couched in terms of updates or extensions of that recommendation, if any.  (I think we have some things to add to the qaframe spec still, but mainly to extend the scope to cover non-normative references and to talk about the nature of the review process.)

However,  even without any additional TAG work,  it would seem to be the responsibility of working groups, chairs, editors, and staff contact to make best effort to follow the quaframe-spec recommendations; if for some reason doing so is impractical, working groups should document why they cannot be or should not be followed.

In this particular case "ietf-id-wip", the applicable guideline from quspec-frame says:

# Each normative reference to another specification (from W3C or not) should adhere to as many of the following principles as apply:
# * Make reference to a precise and unique version of the other specification.

An undated URL reference does not follow this principle. Is there a reason why the reference should be undated and not a unique version? Personally, in the years that I have edited specifications, I've not found it too difficult to include a specific dated identified reference, and just update it as necessary.

In addition, it mentions:
# * When referencing a generic technology and all its future versions, be sure that the technology is orthogonal to yours and that future versions will not create incompatibilities for conformance or implementation.
# * When referencing a generic technology and all its future versions, make it clear that the conformance requirements to a fixed version of your specification will potentially change over time to reflect changes made in the referenced technology as it changes in future versions.

I
Now, Julian's proposed solution (merely to annotate the references as 'work in progress') may not in itself be adequate to match the requirements of qaframe-spec, although a label "(work in progress)" does help to notify the reviewer that conformance requirements might change.

To at least some degree, W3C's credibility as a SDO (recognized by ISO, IETF, and other standards development organizations) depends on the perception that W3C is careful about dependency of one specification on others and the management of the review & standards process.

For example, IETF attempts to reduce reliance of a stable specification on an unstable one by controlling "downward references" (i.e., references to specifications with more volatility.) There is an exception in the IETF rules for references to specifications by "other SDOs" (which includes W3C) based on the assumption that W3C specifications would follow its own rules.

Insofar as W3C allows individuals to disregard these QA recommendations, and call it a matter of "personal taste", it reduces the credibility of W3C in the eyes of others for whom such distinctions are important. 

In any case, given the amount of effort that has gone into the discussion of the general issues around normative references, it seems inappropriate to say that this is merely editorial, a matter of taste, or a waste of time.

Larry
-- 
http://larry.masinter.net
Received on Friday, 27 January 2012 00:14:21 GMT

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