[rfc-i] [IAB Trac] #266: Requirement for "Clear Printing"

George, Wes wesley.george at twcable.com
Tue Feb 19 13:47:06 PST 2013

> From: rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-editor.org [mailto:rfc-interest-
> bounces at rfc-editor.org] On Behalf Of Martin Rex
> If there are fancy new features proposed that interfere with producing
> pre-paginated TXT RFCs that come out equal on A4 and US paper, then
> those fancy new features ought to be postponed until there is proof that
> we absolutely need such breaking features.
[WEG] Though I do not believe anyone is proposing breaking the ability to use the canonical format to generate a paginated and printable text version (putting aside the ASCII text art debate for a moment), I felt the need to respond to the larger issue that this comment represents.

I highly doubt that anyone could ever produce "proof" of "absolute need" of *any* change to the current format such that it would actually convince those who share your view on the matter. I hope I don't have to provide examples of the technologies we benefit from whose proponents ignored similar nonsense about proof of absolute need before just going off and making it happen.

It continues to mystify me how an organization that is supposed to be inventing the future can be so resistant to even the smallest change. It is especially troubling when that ossification seems to be justified solely by individual preferences and habits hidden behind a "need" to conform to decades-old technology limitations that are no longer relevant (LPR, ASCII terminal, etc) because that behavior is being emulated on a much more capable device.

There is a point at which the anachronistic limitations that are part of IETF's process move from charming, quaint, or quirky and become barriers to productivity for a majority of the participants. That point is likely different for different people, so let's focus on the *majority* part. Given the way that the majority of average people produce, format, and consume text today, I seriously doubt that we're on the correct side of that line right now, let alone in the time until the next major revision of the RFC series format.

Wes George

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