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Working Group Decision on ISSUE-101 us-ascii-ref

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2011 11:13:18 -0400
Message-ID: <4D7F820E.5020706@intertwingly.net>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
The decision follows.  The chairs made an effort to explicitly address
all arguments presented in the Change Proposals on this topic in
addition to arguments posted as objections in the poll.

*** Question before the Working Group ***

There is a basic disagreement in the group as to what reference is to be
used for the ASCII character set in terms of Unicode code points.  The
result was an issue, three change proposals, and a straw poll for


== Uncontested observations:

  * RFC 1345 is a non-maintained, historic, informational RFC.  It also
    is stable, and likely to continue to exist.

  * The ECMA-6 homepage explains briefly what it is and how it is

  * A reference to RFC 1345 may be perceived to be less Official.

  * RFC 1345 contains material unrelated to the definition of ASCII

  * RFC 1345 contains a reference to an official (for pay) definition
    of ASCII.

None of these were decisive.  There were people who supported either of
these proposals even after taking these facts into consideration.  In
the cases where they were acknowledged up front, this acknowledgement
was appreciated.

=== Objections

After we accounted for the uncontested observations, the following
objections remained:

* References need to actually define the term in question.

* Referencing a pay-for spec is useless, requiring a royalty is against
   the spirit of the W3C's approach to royalties on specifications.

* The ECMA reference does not define the code points in terms of

As the third objection is uncontested, and the effect of adopting the
change proposal which would have introduced this reference would leave
the document in an inconsistent state (i.e., with a reference to a
document that does not contain the information the ASCII character set
in terms of Unicode code points), we found this to be sufficient to
eliminate this Change Proposal from consideration.

This leaves us with two strong and rather orthogonal objections.  We
then turned to look at what the practical implications would be if each
were adopted.  Despite not being a "definition", we found no statement
to the effect that RFC 1345 is not useful for the purpose of an
informative reference.  We did find statements that referencing a
for-pay spec would cause less people to actually make use of the

As such, we found the objection to referencing a for-pay document
stronger than the objection to referencing RFC 1345, even if the RFC
does not provide a normative definition for ASCII.

*** Decision of the Working Group ***

Therefore, the HTML Working Group hereby adopts the "retain link to free
of charge reference for ASCII" for ISSUE-101.  Of the Change Proposals
before us, this one has drawn the weaker objections.

== Next Steps ==

Bug 8845 is to be CLOSED and marked as WGDecision.

Since the prevailing Change Proposal does not call for a spec change, no
further action is required.

== Appealing this Decision ==

If anyone strongly disagrees with the content of the decision and would
like to raise a Formal Objection, they may do so at this time. Formal
Objections are reviewed by the Director in consultation with the Team.
Ordinarily, Formal Objections are only reviewed as part of a transition

== Revisiting this Issue ==

This issue can be reopened if new information come up.  An example of
possible relevant new information include:

* Identification of a stable, maintained, official reference that is
   made available royalty free that defines ASCII in terms of UNICODE
   code points.  Ideally such would be available via the web and use a
   format such as plain text, HTML, or PDF, and would be produced by a
   standards group known to have a hand in stewarding the specification
   of ASCII.

=== Arguments not considered:

   "this whole issue is a giant waste of time", "editor's discretion",
   "purely editorial", and that "this became an issue at all is also

While it was not found to be the strongest objection, the fact that the
IETF no longer considers this RFC to be official is a serious issue is a
strong objection that merits consideration by the Working Group.

   "make this the formal reference, with a note that its successors such
   as the ISO and ECMA-6 documents are easier to find"

We only considered proposals that actually were brought forward.
Received on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 15:13:52 UTC

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