[rfc-i] summary of Removing postal information from RFCs

John R Levine johnl at taugh.com
Sun Jul 11 14:34:08 PDT 2021

Here's a somewhat tardy summary of the postal element discussion.

It's still not clear to me what people think the purpose of the 
optional postal address is.


I said:
  One of the changes to the xml v3 grammar since RFC 7991 is a new
>> <postal> element with a set of subfields such as <street>, <region>, and
>> <code>. To render addresses we use a python library that depends on an
>> open source address database originally from Google.  While tracking
>> down a rendering bug, we found that the rendering database is not
>> actively maintained and has a long list of unresolved pull requests.  We
>> don't know of any other reliable source of rendering patterns.

> That is misleading. Most of these elements date back to RFC 2629. RFC
> 7991 has added <postalLine> which allows authors to format their
> information the way to want it, instead of having to live with the baked
> in address formatter.

(True but it's switched from just enumerating the items to using patterns from
the datatbase, with extra fields.)

Brian said:
> (FWIW I have never received paper mail in my life about any RFC that I've co-authored, but of course it is essential to give an attribution and enough of an address to distinguish
one person from another. We've had at least one case of two people with the same name and the same employer, and at least one of them is an RFC author.)

Julian responded: In which case the email address should help, no?
Brian: Yes, but not over a 20 or 30 year timespan with people moving from job to job.

> So if we want to have a country, let's please extract that from postal, deprecate postal in total (or everything except postalLine), and put the country beside the postal address.

  Larry Masinter  said:
>I think it's important to keep and encourage authors to supply as part of identity metadata.

I said: Many RFCs have no postal info. If we're going to demand postal info from everyone, that is quite a large change to existing practice.

Larry: Identity metadata is data the author supplied to establish their identity.  Whether you could send postal mail to the person isn't the point.

John: I don't get it.  Given that the IETF has never verified anything about RFC authors other than their e-mail addresses,
what difference does it make if they provide a street address?  What if I just made one up?  Or in my case, since I live
in a small town, I could provide an address that has everything but the 
town wrong and I'd get the mail anyway.

If we want identity metadata, we could ask for ORCID. I doubt we want to go there.

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