[rfc-i] Re: request to deprecate numeric citations in

John C Klensin john+rfc at jck.com
Wed Jan 12 20:05:48 PST 2005


Although I've used numeric citations, I favor this change.
However, I would encourage folks to think through two
potentially unintended consequences:

(1) What converted me to numeric citations was the realization
that there was no way to alphabetize mnemonic/text references if
the references section itself was divided into two parts.    The
style manuals I use seem to think that asking the reader to flip
through two separate "references" sections in order to find a
given reference is not a good idea.  With numeric references,
one can at least number straight through and have 

    Normative references
    [1] ...
    [2] ...
    Informative references

Now, one might use
    Normative references
    [N.Bozo95] ...
    [N.Clar97] ...
    Informative references
but I don't think I've ever seen it in an RFC and the XML2RFC
model doesn't make it easy to generate, to put it mildly.

(2) More generally, the names that are needed to make public
entities unique are fairly nasty for symbolic references.
[RFC9999] is fine, but [I-D.ietf-bozo-foo-bar-content] is fairly
unpleasant.  It is pretty late in the game to think about this,
but I wonder whether we should have had those external library
entries structured so that they did not contain the <reference>
tags themselves.  That would have permitted

   <reference anchor="Bozo05">

or, given the above issue,
   <reference anchor="N.Bozo95".

But I don't know how to get there now unless we permit
<reference> to have <reference> elements.  I'd like that for
compound references, but I gather I'm in the minority for
wanting those at all.


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