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ISO Recommends Denying OOXML Appeals 203

Posted by kdawson
from the as-expected dept.
An anonymous reader passes along word that ISO has responded to the four appeals filed against the approval of OOXML as a standard. To no one's surprise, ISO says that there was nothing wrong with the process. Groklaw's coverage is (as usual) the most comprehensive. Andy Updegrove summarizes ISO's position this way: "1. All judgments made during the course of the process were appropriately made under the applicable Directives. 2. The fact that the BRM voted on all proposed resolutions in some fashion satisfies the requirements of the Directives. 3. The fact that a sufficient percentage of National Bodies (NBs) ultimately voted to approve DIS 29500 ratifies the process and any flaws in that process. 4. Many objections, regardless of their merits, are irrelevant to the appeals process."
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ISO Recommends Denying OOXML Appeals

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  • Meaning. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot @ e x i t0.us> on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:26AM (#24152039) Homepage
    We don't care about fair process because it's our game anyway.
    • Re:Meaning. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pegdhcp (1158827) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:51AM (#24152429)
      More likely, "we are bureaucrats, as long as their lawyers are better than yours, you are doomed..." with an evil laughter from '50s horror movies.

      The processing of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 project has been conducted in conformity with the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, with decisions determined by the votes expressed by the relevant ISO and IEC national bodies under their own responsibility, and consequently, for the reasons mentioned above, the appeals should not be processed further

      Typical desk jockey jargon with no content whatsoever... "Vote was counted and records are signed, that is the end of it, just shut up, we do not care if a company bought out some (most) of the votes or not..."

    • Sign to Move On (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:56AM (#24152515) Homepage Journal

      We don't care about fair process because it's our game anyway.

      ISO need not have a monopoly on games. Sure, it's going to take some work to replace it. So the question is, "is it worthwhile doing?"

      • Re:Sign to Move On (Score:5, Informative)

        by rbanffy (584143) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:57AM (#24153453) Homepage Journal

        As for most things IT, there is a body of standards, fully documented and with free, accessible and royalty-free reference implementations. I am using such an embodiment right now to write this e-mail.

        ISO is useful for connectors, naming conventions and mechanical parts specifications. Its role in defining open data-exchange standards is obsolete.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jimicus (737525)

          As for most things IT, there is a body of standards, fully documented and with free, accessible and royalty-free reference implementations. I am using such an embodiment right now to write this e-mail.

          You're not doing a very good job of it - that isn't an email.

  • Does it matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:28AM (#24152069) Journal

    How does it matter whether OOXML is an ISO standard or not. No real world implementation exists, so anyone who wants to actually use a standard is still going to have to use ODF.

    • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gewalt (1200451) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:34AM (#24152149)
      No, it really doesn't matter now, cause it already had the necessary impact. Microsoft has already realized that OOXML is unimplementable and is in the process of moving its own products into compliance with a specification that is actually implementable: ODF.
      • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by Brandano (1192819) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:17AM (#24152853)
        That's not exactly 100% accurate. Microsoft has somehow "promised" they'll implement "interoperability" with ODF, while at the same time requesting OASIS to let them have a shot at maintaining the ODF standard, or at least this is what I gather from their latest letters on the argument. I don't know why, but this worries me a bit. <sarcasm>Not that I'd ever suspect Microsoft of any foul play, like for example trying to embed their proprietary and patent encumbered technologies in the ODF standard. After all their past behaviour is a clear example of integrity!</sarcasm> (this post features sarcasm tags for easier interpretation by the humor impaired)
      • by rbanffy (584143)

        Starting embrace, extend and suffocate maneuvers in 3... 2... 1...

      • by SEMW (967629)

        Microsoft has already realized that OOXML is unimplementable

        ...Was it the statement that the OOSML SDK "will definitely be 100% compliant with the final ISO/IEC 29500 spec, including the changes accepted at the BRM" (Doug Mahugh) that tipped you off that "Microsoft has already realized that OOXML is unimplementable"? Or was it the one about "We are committed to supporting the Open XML specification that is approved by ISO/IEC in our products (Chris Capossela [microsoft.com])?

        And what exactly is it about OOXML that is so "unimplementable" exactly? ISO 29500/Transitional is pret

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          ...with all the deprecated crap (VML, FormatLikeBabbageDiffEngine) stripped out.

          But I like FormatLikeBabbageDiffEngine.

          Add from column n+1, a.k.a. "names" (John Doe)
          Carry Propagation ("Dear [30 spaces]" -> Dear John Doe)
          Add from column n - 1, a.k.a. "comma" (, -> Dear John Doe,)
          Rest

    • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mhall119 (1035984) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:43AM (#24152305) Homepage Journal

      Because of legislation that requires governments to use only "standards compliant" formats. If OOXML is an ISO standard, then those governments can continue to use MS Office formats that no other software can use.

      • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mariner28 (814350) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:03AM (#24152629)
        Repeat after me:

        "No implementation of OOXML exists. No implementation of OOXML exists. No implementation of OOXML exists."

        Did you understand that? Not even Microsoft has any product which implements the standard. docx, pptx, xlsx - none are compatible with OOXML as approved by ISO.

        Even Microsoft has admitted that it will implement ODF before OOXML.

        • by mhall119 (1035984)

          Yes, but I'm sure that saying "MS Office 2007 implements MSOOXML, which later became an ISO standard" will be enough to justify it's continued use.

          • by Mariner28 (814350)
            Here, let me fix that for ya:

            Yes, but I'm sure that saying "MS Office 2007 will implement MSOOXML, which we've admitted may not be technically possible" will be enough to justify it's continued use.

            Sorry, I forgot to include that little point in my previous posting. ECMA 376, which based on the OOXML which Office 2007 uses, is not ISO/IEC 29500. Why do you think MS will implement ODF before '29500? "Oh, let's do ODF first! It's harder to implement than OOXML - we can just whip that out when we feel l
            • by mhall119 (1035984)

              The point I was making is that for most agencies, the distinction won't be made, and if ISO/IEC29500 is an accepted standard, then MS Office 2007, supporting ECMA 376, will be considered "close enough".

        • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Insightful)

          by itsdapead (734413) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:02AM (#24153545)

          Did you understand that? Not even Microsoft has any product which implements the standard.

          You seem to have the quaint notion that any debate by a government department of contractor over whether .docx is an ISO standard will be based on accurate information and rational argument by open-minded people who understand the technical issues.

          Welcome to our planet, stranger!

          The reality is that the ISO has handed Microsoft advocates a massive FUD weapon. Before, ODF was ISO certified, .doc wasn't. End of story. Now, the salesman can tell your pointy-haired boss (who's genes tell him that nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft anyway) that MS's ISO-certified OOXML format will leverage support for legacy documents without the potential loss of fidelity* associated with ODF without telling an actionable lie.

          (* 'cos half of OOXML seems to boil down to "render this blob exactly like Office 97, right down to the leap-year bugs" - and MS are really going to pull out all the stops to ensure that their ODF implementation is absolutely rock-solid, right?)

    • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:48AM (#24152377) Homepage Journal
      At this point, it isn't about OOXML specifically anymore. It is how the ISO was manipulated and bought so completely right in front of the world. It is ISO under scrutiny now, not OOXML.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        Honestly, even before this, ISO wasn't really particularly relevant. I mean seriously, by their own admission, they were allowing multiple competing standards to develop to solve the same problem.

        I'm not really sure I understand what the point of ISO is if they're going to allow multiple competing standards to develop. Perhaps it's that I don't work in IT, but how on earth is multiple standards a good thing? How exactly is it useful to the consumer or whoever is implementing them to get to choose amongst mu

        • Honestly, even before this, ISO wasn't really particularly relevant. I mean seriously, by their own admission, they were allowing multiple competing standards to develop to solve the same problem.

          I think that you misunderstand what the ISO is all about. They are not there to pick the winners. They just allow a single definition of things in the hope that each vendor doesn't come up with their own slightly different version.

          It is just as valid for the ISO to standardise both ODF and OOXML as it is for them to standardise C++ and Fortran. Both are competing for the same goal, but it means that you can choose a programming language/document format and get the same C++, Fortran, ODF or OOXML no matter w

    • by residieu (577863)
      Microsoft will say they support OOXML, and OOXML is an ISO standard, therefore they support ISO standards. They will neglect to mention that the version of OOXML they support isn't even the version that was submitted to ISO, and certainly isn't the one that was approved.
    • No real world implementation exists, so anyone who wants to actually use a standard is still going to have to use ODF

      Office implements OOXML. It has some minor deviations from the standard, but it is closer to the OOXML standard than OpenOffice is to the ODF standard, as measured by the number of validation errors you get if you validate real-world documents against the schema for the two specs.

  • ISO has failed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:29AM (#24152089) Journal

    They either need to replaced or it must be built up from scratch. If this does not happen, there can NEVER be any trust in them again.

    Fuck ISO

    • Re:ISO has failed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:37AM (#24152201) Homepage Journal
      This is explains why this decision mattered, because the ISO has discredited itself. Its other standards are now called into question. It is a shame, a real shame.
  • On the plus side.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:31AM (#24152107)

    I can demand that all clown shoes must be measured in cubits and have it made the clown shoe standard. That doesn't mean people will use it.

    • by thedonger (1317951) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:44AM (#24152315)
      Realistically, clown shoes should be measured in qubits. Thus, any attempt by a clown to actually measure his shoe would necessarily alter the shoe, thus changing it's size, and that would be funny. It would also allow clown shoe entanglement, thus changing every other clown's shoe size when any one clown measures his own. Quantum theory can then explain why so many clowns can fit inside of a very small vehicle.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Just Some Guy (3352)

        Quantum theory can then explain why so many clowns can fit inside of a very small vehicle.

        Compressability is an inherent property of bozons.

  • by Daryen (1138567)

    Many objections, regardless of their merits, are irrelevant to the appeals process.

    Hmm, what is the difference between an objection and an appeal again?

    define:objection - expostulation: the act of expressing earnest opposition or protest.

    define:appeal - challenge (a decision); "She appealed the verdict"

    Ahh yes, completely different.

  • Bleah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:33AM (#24152141) Journal

    Even MSFT gave up on trying to use the thing as a standard (for now)... but at least ISO's actions show us just how worthless and suspect (and probably corrupt) an ISO standard can get nowadays.

    Guess I should've seen it coming back in the 1990's, when companies were plastering "ISO (insert number) Certified!1!1!!11!" across every marketing material surface that would hold ink.

    Ah well... back to the good ol' RFC's, methinks.

    /P

    • ISO 9000 (Score:3, Informative)

      by dj245 (732906)
      ISO 9000/9001 certification (which is what you are talking about) is a somewhat vague standard that says, in simple terms, that any process or actions your company performs must have a written description of the process, instructions, checksheets, etc. It is intended to try to improve quality and consistency. It doesn't mean that in all cases (or even most) that quality and consistency are improved.

      Its a fairly meaningless certfication, since the company can still be turning out crap. But at least
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:34AM (#24152153) Journal
    I think we need to teach these cocksuckers a lesson. Let's boycott ISO and all ISO standards. Hopefully, it will be as successful as our amazon boycott!!
  • by gweihir (88907) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:34AM (#24152165)

    The way I see it is that they have exactly two options:

    1) Clean up their process and make resilient against amoral scum like Microsoft, that have a lot of power and absolutely no restraints on using it.

    2) Let them get away with it and have all their standardization efforts become meaningless.

    Seems to me that ISO is bound to beceome irrelevant unless they chose 1). This would be detrimental to the whole world and a real pity. Can they just admit that their process has been successfully hacked and take a stand and poclaim that they will not tolerate it? Obviously not. Pathetic.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:10AM (#24152733)

      2) Let them get away with it and have all their standardization efforts become meaningless.

      ISO standards may be meaningless to all rational people if they continue down this road. Sadly, there are a lot of powerful organizations that have a lot of influence on many of our lives that are not even close to rational. As someone who has occasionally had to deal with standards for products used by the US government, I can tell you right now there is nothing rational about the requirements or procedures. It is millions in consulting fees being handed to people for completely useless certifications, largely as a way to prevent competitors from bidding on contracts. I actually saw a Windows 95 based "device" win a contract we wanted to bid on, because that was the only OS "certified" for security for that use. The "certification" basically amounted to MS stating it was not guaranteed to be fit for any purpose and paying contractors to fill out a boatload of paperwork. Any vendor with a pile of money could get "certified" but it took time and cost a lot of money.

      The problem with ISO and OOXML is that it won't be viewed rationally and it will likely be used as a way to make MS Office a legal requirement in certain government applications without any regard for the real merits of other software packages. Even if all rational people know ISO certification no longer means anything, that doesn't mean we won't be spending millions in tax dollars needlessly because of it.

    • by gtall (79522)

      I think the whole ISO thing is irrelevant:

      M$ Pimp Bureaucrat: Ye must use an ISO standard for documents.

      M$ Business School Product: We have an M$OOXML implementing thingy that produces docs and M$OOXML is an ISO standard.

      M$ PB: (checking bank account) I see here that you have not yet implemented yon standard.

      M$ MSB: Check your bank account again, you'll find we have indeedy implemented something like what you are suggesting.

      M$ PB: (checking bank account again) Why yes, I see it says right here that you have

  • by llamalad (12917)

    Many objections, regardless of their merits, are irrelevant

    So even if an objection is relevant... it's somehow not relevant?

    Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:39AM (#24152237)
    Did anyone expect them to say "It's a fair cop gov, you caught us red-handed"?
  • I think instead of having standards bodies, perhaps we should just say, defacto, that the open source application that manages an open document is in fact the reference implementation. It has all the knowledge in code, for public display and re-use, and that's way better than mere requirements. Like, I'm a total Windows bigot, but I do more C++ on Linux and I now expect that Visual C++ should actually perform the same way that GNU does, rather than vice versa, because I trust GNU more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      That's a good idea. But my version of gcc prints "Rob Malda is a child molester." as the startup banner, so I guess that's part of the C Standard. Oh which version of gcc is the standard? 4.2.1? I hope not, because that one had a buffer overflow. Or is it Apple's fork of it? Oh, and of course gcc isn't the only open source C compiler. In fact, in my undergraduate compilers course, I wrote a C compiler. It doesn't really handle the entire language, but it's open source, so it must be the reference im
      • by mortonda (5175)
        And you expect any implementation of OOXML to fare any better???? *Spock's one-eyebrow-raise*
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Like, I'm a total Windows bigot, but I do more C++ on Linux and I now expect that Visual C++ should actually perform the same way that GNU does, rather than vice versa, because I trust GNU more.

      Problem #1: You trust GNU more, but that doesn't mean the GNU way will win out. What happens when the most prevalent de facto standards is held up by someone unscrupulous, and you want to do something about it? We'll all be sitting around saying, "We sure wish there was some group that could study the different formats to use and make unbiased recommendations, so that the less-knowledgeable among us can make better decisions about what to implement."

      Problem #2: Standards bodies (when they're working prop

    • What you need is a reference (clean room) implementation which implements all the defined behaviour of the standard. This becomes the "gold" standard to test real world implementations. (Also it serves as a testbed to refine the standard and get the warts out).

      In practice though, it's really hard to do this - I used to know someone who spent a long time doing a real ISO reference C compiler. (Standards are mind numbing stuff - particularly the corner cases).

      Andy

  • zz (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday July 11, 2008 @09:48AM (#24152383)
    So, an irrelevant and self serving international body decides to ignore the general feeling and collective wisdom/insight of the community and ratify an standard used by nobody (including its creator).

    really, who cares?

    Who are the losers here?

    MS - because this has all come out in the wash, they are going ODF anyhow and its made them look daft for not even using their own standard. I mean, how could they now?

    ISO - because this has generated enough mud to stick and tarnished their reputation maybe beyond compare.
    • Re:zz (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:13AM (#24152787)

      Who are the losers here?

      You forgot, taxpayers, who will end up paying for purchases of MS Office because of government regulations requiring use of specific ISO standards, like OOXML, for particular uses. It will basically be used as a way to lock out everyone but MS for certain contracts and we'll be paying the bills.

    • Re:zz (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cervo (626632) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:15AM (#24152819) Journal
      MS didn't lose. Sure the version of OOXML that was standardized was never implemented. But that doesn't mean that they can't say OOXML was ratified with ISO. And Microsoft Office Implements OOXML. They will conveniently forget that the two versions of OOXML are not the same. And for a typical end user, they will not think that critically. They will just say MS implements OOXML which is an ISO standard and that is that. This is a win for MS.
      • IOW: OOXML is like OSI for documents.
        Neither have a implementation that exists.
        MS' OOXML is the closest but no cigar.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      MS - because this has all come out in the wash, they are going ODF anyhow and its made them look daft for not even using their own standard. I mean, how could they now?

      We don't know what Microsoft's endgame is here. They might implement ODF in a buggy, half-assed manor, argue that it's because ODF is a sub-standard format, and then say, "Hmmm.... I guess we need to find a new format. Luckily, we have another ISO standard all ready to go!"

      It could all just be a PR play so they can claim, "We tried to do what those FOSS fanatics wanted, but gave up when we realized how awful the format is. Those guys just can't be satisfied!"

  • by Androclese (627848) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:02AM (#24152623)
    ...when it has no standard implementation?

    What does this say about ISO Standards when their decisions are rejected by the community at-large?
    • Yup, its like OSI for documents.

      Neither have a implementation that exists.

      • Quite a few ISO standards don't have full implementations, or took many years to get full implementations after approval, take C++ for instance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by prshaw (712950)

      This is not that unusual.

      I have been a C++ programmer for many years, long before the standard for C++ was passed. When it was passed there was no complete implementation of it, and it was many years before there were implementations that came close.

      I still have trouble forgetting the effort it took to get 'standard' code to build on AIX, Sun, and Windows.

      A standard doesn't say there is an implementation, it says this is what we expect/want to be implemented.

    • by Shados (741919)

      ::dring dring::

      "Hmm, hello? yes... oh, sure, no problem."

      Buddy, the W3C just called. They wanna speak with you about something.

  • by ZarathustraDK (1291688) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:12AM (#24152775)
    The problem is not whether the appeals hold any merit. The problem is the process handling the appeals (as well as any other ISO process) is flawed.

    It's like asking a paralyzed man to piss and hit toilet.
  • ISO feedback (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    the ISO's website has a nice feedback form, I would encourage people in a restrained and intelligent way to point out what OOXML has done to the ISO's now ruined reputation.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:28AM (#24153001) Journal

    Well, at this point all I can say is fsck ISO. And I think that's the general feeling of many in the IT right now. That's going to have some consequences - like, ISO standards not being worth the paper they're written on, for example.

  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:40AM (#24153175) Homepage Journal

    There was a misstatement in point 1 - it should read:
    1. All judgements made during the course of the process were appropriately made under the applicable tables.

  • In other words... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GuyverDH (232921) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:52AM (#24153349)

    It seems kind of odd to me that certain members of the ISO are fighting so hard to defend their questionable actions during the process. Could it be they are afraid of what may surface during an investigation of what really happened? Could it be they are afraid of what they might lose if it's overturned? Just curious...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gtall (79522)

      That and it would be embarrassing to have to return any "items" which M$ entrusted to their perpetual care.

      Gerry

    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Friday July 11, 2008 @12:17PM (#24154693)

      Have you ever heard of the term "rule of law"? If not, look it up.

      The idea is, opinions do not matter in rule of law (other than legal opinions). If you don't follow the rule of law, then laws become meaningless.

      The same is true for organziations like ISO, and while their rules aren't law, they may as well be for them. If they don't follow them and allow public opinion to sway their actions, then the rules are meaningless. If you don't like the rules, you have to work to get them changed, not cry foul for having followed the rules.

      Most people against the ISO decisions don't seem to understand this. They think that if they just stand up and yell loud enough, then the ISO will (or should) violate it's own rules to side with them. That would be an even worse situation for the ISO and would make them even more worthless if they can be swayed to violate their own rules by public opinion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by argent (18001)

        The rule of law works because there are checks and balances, meta-laws that laws are subject to, judges and juries to interpret the laws, an appeals process. When these are short-circuited, the law becomes ineffective.

        If the rules of a body do not include equivalent mechanisms, if they *have to* be blindly followed, as if every one of these rules was the equivalent of the mandatory sentencing rules that tie judges hands and prevent them from applying the judgement that oils the wheels of justice, then the r

  • Saying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips (752041) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:16AM (#24153789) Homepage Journal

    Reminded saying heard long time ago. [ Probably native speaker can give original saying for my memory is bad with such things. ]

    When process is against you - argue facts
    When facts against you - argue procedure.

    Facts are against ISO. So they are pushing the procedure thing. After all procedure was so to say followed and voting on the so called standard so to say have happened. Or probably "had been happened" is more appropriate wording in the context??

  • I imagine this is not impossible: the ISO has decided they want to be irrelevant and shunned. What better way to oblige them than to start a foundation (I'm sure Sun, IBM and RedHat would love to chip in with a few bucks) that is in direct and totally blatant competition with ISO, just without the bribeability and corruptability of the ISO? After the OOXML fiasco, I think this new international standards organisation would have no major problems getting established.

    Probably other donors would appear: Nokia,

  • To paraphrase ISO's response: "We're still relevant!!!"

    No, you are not.

  • by rfc11fan (922027) on Friday July 11, 2008 @01:30PM (#24155743) Homepage

    Before the first time I ever participated in a "standards body", I thought that the committees consisted of really smart technical people gathering together to figure out what was best for the industry at large. How naive!

    Then came the rude awakening: The committees are almost entirely comprised of representatives (who often reflect minimal technical expertise in the domain of interest) of the major commercial players in the industry. Each of the reps does whatever he/she can to promote his/her constituent employer's stance on each and every detailed issue, without regard for ethics, and with no regard whatsoever to what is "best" for the industry at large. Buying votes is certainly considered within the pale, in these contexts.

    Consequently, the only standards I can respect are the RFCs published by the IETF, for 2 major reasons:

    • They are framed as "Request For Comment" documents, not as "international standards."
    • They are required to reflect real implementations, so they don't invent new art or speculate about what only might be possible. They reflect things that are genuinely implementable.

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