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Re: LC comment for SpecGL : 'what does "MUST define scope" mean?'

From: Lynne Rosenthal <lynne.rosenthal@nist.gov>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 20:09:39 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: www-qa@w3.org

The use of RFC2119 was a topic on last monday's QAWG telecon.  The 
discussion and resolution was as follows:

It was pointed out that *everyone* is broadening the use of the keywords 
beyond the original communications/protocols context. Based on creative 
interpolation and extrapolation.   The context and usage of the keywords 
has been broadened, they are in common usage beyond 
communications/protocols applications, they are widely used in diverse 
applications in W3C with creative extrapolation from RFC2119's implicit 
context, etc.   [Note: the new W3C Process Document also uses these keywords]

Additionally, the other part of our resolution is to suggest that W3C 
(possibly Comm and QA) need to write a Note, a modern interpretation of 
RFC2119 and how to use it across diverse W3C standards.


At 05:37 PM 4/23/2003 -0600, Alex Rousskov wrote:

>On Thu, 24 Apr 2003, Dan Connolly wrote:
> > "Conformance requirements: the specification MUST define the subject
> > matter of the specification"
> >
> > how can I tell whether my spec has defined the subject matter of the
> > specification or not?
>This requirement is not "testable" in general, of course. In other
>words, it is impractical to give you an algorithm that will find scope
>definition given an arbitrary spec.
>In most cases however, it is possible to search for the word "scope"
>in the spec text, read abstract/introduction sections, or use other
>approaches to find spec's scope. Spec authors should be able to find
>the scope definition and should make it easy for others to do the
> > SpecGL uses MUST in the sense of RFC2119, but RFC2119 says, of
> > MUST/MAY/SHOULD keywords...
> >
> >    In particular, they MUST only be used where it is actually
> >    required for interoperation or to limit behavior which has
> >    potential for causing harm
> >
> > What interoperability failure results from the
> > failure of a spec to define conformance?
>We are talking about scope definition, not conformance definition here
>(though a lack of any conformance definition is also bad).
>The MUST in question limits behavior which has potential for causing
>harm. Potentially harmful behavior in this case is omitting scope
>definition. Absence of a [well-defined] scope is harmful both for spec
>authors (they tend to document things they should not care about,
>increasing the amount of their work and the complexity of the spec)
>and for spec users that will have to spend extra time figuring out
>whether the spec applies to their case, often making mistakes.
> > Don't use MUST to constrain specs; specs aren't software agents.
>RFC2119 scope is not limited to specs about software agents.
Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2003 20:09:59 UTC

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