[rfc-i] Line/section/page numbers considered useless/useful

Riccardo Bernardini framefritti at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 02:09:24 PDT 2014

On Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 4:13 AM, Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor)
<rse at rfc-editor.org> wrote:
> On 6/26/14, 6:23 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
>> I have found line, section and page numbers to be pretty useless
>> when reviewing I-Ds, simply because they will probably be
>> different in the next version, and for the majority of authors
>> they are meaningless because they are by definition absent from
>> the xml source. So I try to use contextual information only in
>> my reviews, unless I'm being lazy.
>> On the other hand, section, paragraph and line numbers are
>> all by definition stable in RFCs. The latter two can always
>> be added at presentation time, so do not need to be in the file.
>> The RSE needs to remind me whether page numbers would be consistent
>> across the various formats.
> Hello Brian,
> Since not all publication formats will have pages, no, page numbers will
> NOT be consistent across various formats.
> The proposal to add tags to number paragraphs seems to be a reasonable
> compromise to target the same areas across file formats, regardless of
> pagination.

Just 2.0e-2$ from my personal experience...

I program in Ada (yes, I am a white fly...) and every now and then I
need to check the Ada Reference Manual (e.g., ISO/IEC 8652:2012(E)).
In the RM the paragraphs are numbered (e.g.,
http://www.ada-auth.org/standards/12rm/html/RM-1-1-2.html) and it
turns out that this is very convenient when discussing with others
about the language. Since paragraphs are usually quite short, it is
quite unusual that someone needs a resolution finer than the paragraph
level; if you need it, you  just cite the excerpt of text you are
interested in.

BTW, note that the RM comes in a variety of formats, including
non-paginated ones like HTML, so it does not make sense to refer to
page numbers.

Also, I believe that paragraph numbering can be useful also in drafts.
It is true that sections and paragraphs change ad every draft update,
but usually you refer to the latest available draft, so I do not see a
big problem here.  If you want to avoid any ambiguity, you can cite
the draft version, e.g., "In 1.3(12-14) of -05 it is said that ..."
(i.e., paragraphs from 12 to 14 of section 1.2 in draft -05)

Therefore, +2 to paragraph numbering.  Also, as you can see from the
example, numbering can be very unobtrusive. Moreover, this work with
every format, supporting links (HTML, PDF, ...) or not (pure text,
paper version, ...).


> -Heather
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