[rfc-i] not just 'lineprinter' (was Re: Fwd: New Version Notification for draft-flanagan-plaintext-00.txt)

George, Wes wesley.george at twcable.com
Fri Jun 27 09:01:47 PDT 2014

On 6/27/14, 9:12 AM, "Dave Crocker" <dhc at dcrocker.net> wrote:

>This use of 'lineprinter' as a tag for text presentation is a clever bit
>of distracting marketing.  It places this category of RFC representation
>into a nicely archaic box, serving to reduce the sense of its current
WG] I think the phrase here is, "if the shoe fits..." ;-)
But seriously, the implication of something archaic is intentional,
because I honestly don't have a sense for the current utility, so I don't
see a point in treating it with any particular reverence. I think you're
continuing to overstate the unique utility of the *format* itself in vague
terms order to make your case, so I think we're both guilty of some
rhetorical license, and unlikely to convince each other if we continue
like this.

>By way of the simplest possible example, please note that IETF
>discussions about draft revisions usually are in a form that is based on
>the text version and not on a markup version.  Sometimes xml2rfc form is
>used, but not that often.  Essentially never in html or epub or...
WG] We debate the content of the text, not the format, and the tags that
tell the machines what to do aren't overly useful for humans when debating
the content, so we leave them out. That's not news, and it doesn't
necessarily justify any particular format. In other words, the format is
completely transparent unless one is actively debating a point on
formatting, or actively editing the document for publication.
I'm reading the HTML versions of I-Ds when I review, and when I want to
quote text, I highlight it in my browser, copy, paste into email, and
through the magic of technology, I come out with something that looks like
plain, monospaced text, often even block-quoted properly, even if it might
actually be in an HTML-formatted email.
I can quote from this format:
or this one:
just as easily as I can quote from this one:
and it has no bearing on our ability to have the discussion about its
content. Same if my mail client reflows the text so that it doesn't
strictly adhere to 72-column lines, or dispenses with the monospaced font
where it's not strictly necessary for text alignment, or if I quote a
section that spans a page without including the page footer.

What I've been saying all along is that the restrictions imposed by the
current format and/or the requirement to maintain a text-only version of
I-Ds and RFCs add no value by themselves because the original reasons that
those rules were put in place have been overtaken by events and technology
and therefore the format no longer has a valid use case, and you keep
implying that somehow they do without actually explaining how, unless
you're conflating the format with the content and the process as above and
in previous messages.

>Consider this the next time you see or create an old/new sequence during
>a discussion and let's stop trying to marginalize the text version with
>inappropriate tags.

WG] Sure, just as soon as you stop trying to oversell its value justified
primarily by your own assertion that it has value and/or the duration of
its successful use within IETF.

Wes George

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