[rfc-i] Is there a use case for 2119 keyword markup?

Larry Masinter masinter at adobe.com
Thu Jun 19 22:49:51 PDT 2014

If I were wishing for a change in how RFCs (and other standards) were written, I’d suggest marking up what constituted a ‘feature’ to allow a framework for answering whether there were multiple independent interoperable implementations of every feature.   To come to consensus on that question does require the kind of agreement.

Normative text is anything you have to know to decide whether an implementation implements the protocol’s features correctly.



From: rfc-interest [mailto:rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-editor.org] On Behalf Of Tim Bray
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:21 PM
Cc: RFC Interest
Subject: Re: [rfc-i] Is there a use case for 2119 keyword markup?

The idea of marking up the normative text around the 2119 words is seductive but I think a mistake.  There’s endless room for argument as to exactly how far to mark up, but RFCs seem to work OK when we leave that up to the judgment of the reader.  So I’d say just mark up the magic words and leave it at that.

On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 9:17 PM, Dave Crocker <dhc at dcrocker.net<mailto:dhc at dcrocker.net>> wrote:
On 6/19/2014 1:31 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
>> > Marking the whole chunk of text that says something normative, on the
>> > other hand, could tell us something interesting.
> Yes. Like <code>

The idea is entirely reasonable.

However this would also represent a substantial cultural change in the
writing of specifications.

Specifications are not currently written with that kind of clarity and
precision about what characters fall under the umbrella of being
normative and what characters do not.  It's not just the normative word
and it's not (necessarily) even just the sentence the normative word
appears in.

Worse, besides being more editing work, it will require more working
group consensus effort, so there agreement on what's normative and what


Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking
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- Tim Bray (If you’d like to send me a private message, see https://keybase.io/timbray)
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