Re: Perils of "guidance" (was Re: lock-null's Still Locked after MKCOL or PUT conversion?)

> And to be clear, there certainly is the need for documents that
> give implementation guidance to implementors (and with the internet,
> there are a variety of inexpensive mechanisms for distributing
> that information), but putting that guidance in the specification
> itself is extremely harmful.

Perhaps we should go ahead and start an implementation guide wiki (or 
similar), so that the "guidance" texts have a place to live, so that 
people feel like those clarifications won't get lost if they aren't in 
the spec.

Those who want a more explicit spec won't like this, since the text 
will clearly be non-normative, and there will be two places to go to 
figure out what to implement.  However, if it means that implementors 
don't have to solve the puzzle box themselves (if they know where to 
look), maybe that would be good enough.

> It would be very easy (and very tempting) for the authors that are
> largely exhausted by this process to just agree to put in random
> bits of this kind of guidance even though we know it is harmful,
> but it would be wrong and remiss of us to do so.

And I'm sure that folks who are concerned about the potential for 
interop problems feel similarly.  Let's see if we can't explore some 
ways to work together with each other without having to resort to the 
assumption that bad faith exists.

As I've said recently, standards-making is both a technical *and* a 
political process.  Finding a way to achieve consensus, while not 
giving up on core convictions such as these requires copious amounts of 
maturity, camaraderie, or self-deprecating humor.

> I believe the recent support from Roy has demonstrated that there are
> experienced and successful protocol designers that agree with the
> position taken by the authors.  It used to be the case that the
> chair of the WebDAV working group gave guidance and suggestions,
> but ultimately respected the judgement and experience of the authors.  
> Ah, those were the days (:-).

Um, this last bit may have strayed slightly from the collegiate tone 
that Ted was just trying to coax us towards.  Anything else I could 
stay would push us even further from that ideal.

Joe Hildebrand
Denver, CO, USA

Received on Sunday, 30 January 2005 23:51:49 UTC