Re: w3process-ISSUE-54: Change Recommendation to Standard

Hi, David–

I agree with you that "Recommendation" is a poor word.

I'd suggest that we do more than produce specifications; we also make 
comprehensive test suites, marshal together implementers, build 
consensus from key stakeholders, support a community of contributors and 
consumers, promote technologies, and many more things that nourish the 
ecosystem around a specification.

Anyone can write a specification, from a design document to an 
organization-internal set of guidelines; as such, it's not as meaningful 
a term as "standard", and doesn't match what we do as well.

Again, Wikipedia provides some useful distinction here [1]:

A technical standard is an established norm or requirement in regard to 
technical systems. It is usually a formal document that establishes 
uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and 
practices. In contrast, a custom, convention, company product, corporate 
standard, etc. that becomes generally accepted and dominant is often 
called a de facto standard.

A technical standard can also be a controlled artifact or similar formal 
means used for calibration. Reference Standards and certified reference 
materials have an assigned value by direct comparison with a reference 
base. A primary standard is usually under the jurisdiction of a national 
standards body. Secondary, tertiary, check standards and standard 
materials may be used for reference in a metrology system. A key 
requirement in this case is (metrological) traceability, an unbroken 
paper trail of calibrations back to the primary standard.

A technical standard may be developed privately or unilaterally, for 
example by a corporation, regulatory body, military, etc. Standards can 
also be developed by groups such as trade unions, and trade 
associations. Standards organizations often have more diverse input and 
usually develop voluntary standards: these might become mandatory if 
adopted by a government, business contract, etc.

By those criteria, W3C clearly produces voluntary standards, though not 
"primary standards" or mandatory standards.

I understand your concern about the implications that we are claiming to 
produce mandatory standards, which I agree is undesirable; but I think 
we can manage that in other messaging.

If you think it would cause friction with specific "real" (formal, 
mandatory, or government-endorsed) standards organizations, we should 
handle that with kid gloves, and make our intentions clear.

So, I would like to see us use the word "standard" in our formal 
communications, especially since people already use that for W3C 
Recommendations in the vernacular.



On 11/12/13 2:40 PM, David Singer wrote:
> Hi Doug
> I think the word 'standard' has overtones of something that is
> endorsed or mandated, e.g. ITU standards for telecoms, and is
> produced by a formal standards body.  I am not sure we want the
> overtones.
> I think we produce specifications, and that's a good word.
> As I say, 'recommendation' is a poor word;  when we say something is
> 'recommended' *within* a spec., it's a 'should' statement. Even in
> normal english terms, what exactly are we 'recommending' and to whom
> in our specs?
> People who do formal standards might be concerned, though the IETF
> uses the term and it's accepted there.  I don't think it would raise
> too much opposition.
> But, people say, casually, "go read the CSS specification", "it's in
> the HTML spec", and we may as well embrace that and use the name.
> On Nov 12, 2013, at 14:33 , Doug Schepers <> wrote:
>> Hi, David–
>> On 11/12/13 10:29 AM, David Singer wrote:
>>> Ouch.
>>> Traditionally, 'standard' means something from a standards body,
>>> and we are a trade association.  But I agree, 'recommendation' is
>>> a poor word (who is recommending what?)
>> That's an interesting point. I'm not sure I agree with it, based on
>> the definition of a trade association on Wikipedia [1] (emphasis
>> mine).
>> [[ A trade association, also known as an industry trade group,
>> business association or sector association, is an organization
>> founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific
>> industry. An industry trade association participates in public
>> relations activities such as advertising, education, political
>> donations, lobbying and publishing, ***but its main focus is
>> collaboration between companies, or standardization***.
>> Associations may offer other services, such as producing
>> conferences, networking or charitable events or offering classes or
>> educational materials. Many associations are non-profit
>> organizations governed by bylaws and directed by officers who are
>> also members. ]]
>> However, I sense that there's some underlying reason you are shying
>> away from the word "standard", and I think it would be valuable to
>> explore any potential risks or confusion there.
>> Personally, as someone who does a lot of developer relations and
>> outreach, it's burdensome to clarify to that audience what a
>> "Recommendation" is, and I end up saying "it's what W3C calls a
>> 'standard'", which is a known and common nomenclature (even
>> informal groups like WHATWG use it for their deliverables). So,
>> this would clarify and simplify our communications to several
>> audiences.
>> Are there audiences we aren't thinking of that would react badly to
>> our using the word "standard"?
>> [1]
>> Regards- -Doug
> David Singer Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.

Received on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 07:01:04 UTC