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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

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.

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

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