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Re: definition of "character"

From: Mike Brown <mike@skew.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 23:58:32 -0600 (MDT)
Message-Id: <200309270558.h8R5wWdI058142@chilled.skew.org>
To: uri@w3.org

Dan Connolly wrote:
> On Fri, 2003-09-26 at 08:52, Mike Brown wrote:
> > Yet nowhere is "character" actually defined.
> 
> Nor is 'point' defined in geometry.
> 
> The URI spec is much more concrete than geometry
> in that the characters are enumerated explicitly.
> http://gbiv.com/protocols/uri/rev-2002/rfc2396bis.html#collected-abnf
> 
> i.e. you want to know what a character is? 'a' is
> a character, as is 'b' and so on, and there aren't
> any others.
> 
> [...]
>
> While I don't think this is necessary, I don't suppose
> it would hurt. But suggesting that the editor "should at
> least make an attempt to define..." is, as far as I can tell, less
> effective than offering suggested text. I would guess
> that Roy has attempted to draft text that makes everybody
> happy some hundreds of times (hmm... thousands, if you
> count the HTTP spec too); I wouldn't be surprise
> if he scans messages for suggested text and deletes
> those that don't have any summarily.

I seem to have struck a nerve. I thought I was humbly deferring to the experts
to choose the ideal wording to address certain issues, and to decide whether I
am overestimating the importance of the issues I am raising -- that is, if
anyone thinks that I even know what I'm talking about at all.

I feel that I can invest time in explaining the nature of an issue and why I
feel it warrants an edit, and I can invest time in making explicit suggestions
of edits (essentially making the edits myself). As a very new and temporary
party to the discussion, with no credentials and no formal role other than
interested observer (unless RFC 2396bis is more of a community effort than I
am led to believe), it seems reasonable to concentrate more on the former
investment than the latter, until directed otherwise. If there are posting
guidelines that I have missed, please send the URL my way.

In the meantime, I hereby revoke my suggestion that "character" be explicitly
defined. Your message made me realize that it would probably be inappropriate
to make such a definition, since URIs are canonically defined in ABNF terms,
and therefore inherit ABNF's implicit "definition" (declaration, rather) of
character.

I do still feel that opportunities to correct widely-held misperceptions about
character & encoding-related concepts & terminology should not be squandered,
if retention of said misconceptions makes the spec more difficult to
understand or detracts from its usefulness and implementability. But whatever.
Never mind.

-Mike
Received on Saturday, 27 September 2003 01:58:28 UTC

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