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Re: Revisiting RFC 2822 grammar (Subject field)

2004-01-18 05:14:20

Bruce Lilly <blilly(_at_)verizon(_dot_)net> writes:

RFC 1036's title is "Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages".
While it has no standing as an Internet Standard it certainly claims to
be a standard, and moreover it is current and is THE RFC addressing
message format w.r.t. Usenet (RFC 850 having been superseded by 1036,
and 1036 not having been amended or superseded).

You're simply wrong about this.

There is no standard document governing the message format of Usenet.
There is one obsolete informational RFC that does not agree with current
practice, and an effort to write a standard which is completely stalled.
Presenting the obsolete informational RFC as a standard because it
contains the word "standard" in the title and no one has yet written
anything better is not doing anyone any favors.

As a self-proclaimed standard for message format, and with a number of
discrepancies with other message format RFCs, 1036 presents a problem
for implementors; an implementor apparently has the following choices:

a) ignore RFC 1036, which means ignoring Usenet, since 1036 is THE RFC
   dealing with Usenet message format

This is simply nonsensical garbage.  The world does not magically stop
working when you don't have an RFC to work from.

b) take 1036 into account, which imposes structure on the supposedly
   unstructured Subject field

c) pick and choose bits and pieces from the various standards

It's incomprehensible to me how you can omit the choice that essentially
all Usenet implementors actually take, which is:

 d) write code which works with the Usenet messages in the wild and
    follows commonly accepted best practice, using RFC 1036 as one of many
    guides but not giving it all that much weight

Whether you think this is a viable choice or not, it clearly is because
this is what people actually do.  Reality is at odds with your opinions.

Russ Allbery (rra(_at_)stanford(_dot_)edu)