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Re: References Re: What are the requirements/problems? Re: Working on New Styles for W3C Specifications

From: Noah Mendelsohn <nrm@arcanedomain.com>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:09:09 -0500
Message-ID: <4EE93AA5.5000000@arcanedomain.com>
To: Jim Melton <jim.melton@oracle.com>
CC: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>, Bert Bos <bert@w3.org>, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, chairs@w3.org, "spec-prod@w3.org" <spec-prod@w3.org>

On 12/14/2011 5:55 PM, Jim Melton wrote:
> It is not always the case that the "latest published version" of a
> referenced document is intended.  There are situations in which a specific,
> dated reference is required, because the document containing the references
> was written with respect to a specific, dated version of some referenced
> document.  Furthermore, the editors of documents sometimes change from
> publication to publication, although that is perhaps relevant only if
> specific, dated versions are required.

Strong +1.

I have been in working groups where the choice of referencing "latest" vs. 
"dated" was the subject of long and subtle debate. In some cases, reference 
to latest can introduce bugs, including security holes. For example, if the 
reference is to a character set standard such as ASCII or UNICODE, one can 
imagine a situation in which a future change to a specification would 
create security problems, if not outright crash bugs. Conversely, there are 
good reasons in many cases for an open reference to the "latest".

In any case, the choice of "latest" vs. "dated" must be left to the 
individual working groups. Even if the W3C were to have guidelines, working 
groups must have the flexibility to make the case for exceptions in 
particular situations. Choices like this should >not< be locked into 
templates or other generic spec production tooling.

Received on Thursday, 15 December 2011 00:11:55 UTC

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