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Re: w3process-ISSUE-124 (WHATWG-blacklist): Normative Reference policy should explicitly black list WHATWG specs [Normative Reference Policy]

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 05:45:33 +0000 (UTC)
To: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
cc: public-w3process@w3.org
Message-ID: <alpine.DEB.2.00.1410070526370.12123@ps20323.dreamhostps.com>
On Tue, 7 Oct 2014, Daniel Glazman wrote:
> On 06/10/2014 23:57, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > 
> > I disagree that that is a priori important. The purpose of the 
> > snapshot is just to provide a reference for patent lawyers in cases 
> > regarding patent infringement, and government officials in contracts 
> > whose precise details are ignored (as discussed in my last e-mail). In 
> > neither case is the history of the document important.
> Ian, did you read my message here about a third important case? I 
> entirely agree with Dave Singer; snapshots should contain links.

I assume you mean:


| large companies having to control the deployment of browsers internally 
| because their operations rely on critical intranet web sites

| They would like to know exactly what is implemented and based on what
| spec's level.

No spec says exactly what is implemented.

There are no browsers that implement HTML4 as written.

There are no browsers that implement _any_ standard exactly as written.

Having a snapshot specification does not serve the purpose that you 
describe as needed in this argument. It is why I have not included this 
purpose in the list of purposes served by a snapshot.

In fact, when it comes to the HTML spec, the living standard has always 
addressed this use case significantly better than any HTML snapshot that 
has ever existed, for two reasons: one, the living standard keeps being 
updated to match the actual deployed browsers, especially those behaviours 
that are actually required by deployed content; and two, the HTML 
specification has for many years had documentation within the 
specification itself saying what major browsers implement what features. 
(This documentation was recently upgraded further; now it actually lists 
11 different browsers, and gives the earlier version of that browser with 
support for the feature, using the data from caniuse.com.)

| But when a browser vendor says "X is implemented", it doesn't refer to a 
| given commit, it refers to a spec. 

It refers to their aspirations, but no document exactly documents what 
they implemented.

What snapshot of HTML do you think browsers mean they implement when they 
say they implement "HTML5"? I can assure you that it certainly isn't the 
version that the W3C is about to publish -- that version has literally 
months of fixes missing from it, fixes that made the WHATWG version a 
closer description of what browsers shipped than the W3C snapshot.

Further, what exactly do you think is the difference between a commit and 
a spec, or a snapshot of a spec? A snapshot, by definition, is a copy of a 
specific commit (possibly a commit plus a branch label). Anything you can 
say about a snapshot, you can say about a specific commit.

| If the spec is a living standard, there could be changes between the 
| state of the implementation and the relevant prose in the living spec.

If the spec is a snapshot, there could be differences between the state of 
the implementation and the relevant prose in the snapshot spec. In fact, I 
guarantee that there would be.

> What is this leitmotiv about lawyers and governments, as if they were 
> useless and mentioning them was immediately pejorative?

If they were useless, we wouldn't need the snapshot for them. Mentioning 
that the document is for them is no more pejorative than having a version 
of the specification for Web developers say so (as in the specification 
variant found at developers.whatwg.org , for instance -- heck, even the 
hostname for that spec mentions the audience!).

> > Other than the title, for the URL spec, it is done:
> > 
> >    https://whatwg.org/specs/url/2014-07-30/
> Ian, please do change the title. Please.

It's a snapshot with legal rammifications; multinationals have made 
specific legal commitments to the text of that document. Changing it in 
any way is simply not on the table. The suggestion being discussed here is 
to use a new title in a future snapshot. I explained in detail the 
reasoning for having such a carefully crafted title in my earlier e-mail:


I haven't seen any compelling arguments against the current title. My 
advice to future people making snapshots of WHATWG spec would be 
unchanged; the format we used in the URL spec is excellent, IMHO.

> It is just insulting hundreds of thousands of people.

It is insulting nobody.

> And please add a link to the most recent version as Dave asked. This is 
> a perfectly valid request.

It's already there. It's literally the first link in the document, in the 
first sentence of the document; the entire purpose of that first sentence, 
indeed, is to provide this very link. To make it as obvious as possible, 
that sentence is the only sentence in the entire first paragraph. I don't 
really know what more one could possibly do.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 05:45:56 UTC

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