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Re: [csswg-drafts] css should define and use consistent terminology for words like "deprecated", "obsolete" (#5644)

From: Michael[tm] Smith via GitHub <sysbot+gh@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2020 00:52:27 +0000
To: public-css-archive@w3.org
Message-ID: <issue_comment.created-714087512-1603327946-sysbot+gh@w3.org>
> Is there some systematic (and formally defined) existing use of these words by other groups we could align to?

The HTML spec never uses the word *deprecated* at all; instead it only uses *obsolete* — but further makes a distinction between A) obsolete features that are *obsolete but conforming* — which is what most other specs label typically use *deprecated* for — and B) obsolete features that completely *non-conforming*.

See https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/obsolete.html#obsolete

The reason the HTML spec uses *obsolete* rather than *deprecated* is that it wouldn’t make any sense to label those case B completely non-conforming features as “deprecated”.

So in the HTML-spec taxonomy, I think all three cases listed in the issue description map to “obsolete but conforming”.

And given that, I think what the issue description focuses on is basically what most other specs would call “deprecated”.

The HTML-spec taxonomy is arguably idiosyncratic and not aligned super well with what most other specs do.

That said, I think the HTML-spec taxonomy does expose that there’s at least one more case to consider, which is this:

4. This feature/name is in no way currently specified anywhere — and it’s either gone from implementations already, or else if if it’s still in implementations, you should have zero expectation that it works interoperably. Don’t use it.

That \#4 case is what the HTML case calls *non-conforming*.

But I think most other specs don’t even list such completely non-conforming features at all.

Given all that, as far as just the question of how to distinguish *deprecated* vs *obsolete*, I would suggest not to use both but instead only use one or the other. And between the two, I think *deprecated* is the one that’s more-commonly used by most specs, and the one that’s somewhat less ambiguous.

However, if as the HTML spec does, you also want to include consideration of case \#4 — features that are completely non-conforming — then it seems necessary to use the word *obsolete* rather than *deprecated*; it otherwise wouldn’t make much sense to describe any features as “deprecated and non-conforming” (whereas it does make sense to describe such features a “obsolete and non-conforming”).

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