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  • Should standards compliance be a goal not a requirement?

    Posted on February 19th, 2004 Alan No comments

    Web standards: practice what you preach?
    I’m not so sure. If you say you follow a set of rules, then you shouldn’t be allowed to break the rules when it stops being “convenient”. Especially when there are alternatives within the rules that work.
    Would you consider laws a goal not a requirement? Are speed limits a “goal”?

    If the rules stop working then we should change the rules by the established processes.

    Update:
    I asked a friend (non-blogger), who is a deeper thinker than I his opinion, and this is the thread that ensued:

    Alan: J.J., what do you think?


    JJ: I think attempting to argue this one way or the other will eventually lead to deep questions of inherent superiority, absolute morality, God, etc…


    The problem is that not all standards are created equal, and not all standards are equally virtuous. ISDN, for example, borders on a pool of vomit as far as technology goes, but the comittee that spent years hammering it out would not have accepted such a characterization of their hard work. Time eventually told the truth, but who was to say the truth in say, 1990?  No one.  There were people who *knew* (not just had a strong opinion) that ISDN would go the way of the dodo, but since we don’t have an omniscient being sitting in a lawn chair in the back yard that we can run to and ask the truth every time there is a dispute,  it is almost pointless to even discuss.


    Finally, reading deeper into the subject of the blog, one can see a bit of recursiveness in the concept: it implies that if it were declared that a standards compliance should be a requirement, then *that* in itself is a standard – the standard that standards should be followed.  Naturally, the first time someone breaks away from the standard, then the standard of standard’s compliance will have been violated, and again, since people are not equally capable of recognizing virtue in form, someone will who sees more than the rest will eventually break away.


    So it is silly to try to make standards compliance a requirement, unless we all start thinking exactly alike, or God starts sitting in a lawn chair in the back yard.


    Alan: So what is your definition of a “Standard” and the statement “My software is Standards compliant”


    J.J: A standard is a codification of concensus among a group of people.
    To say “my software is standards compliant” is to say that the software embodies the codification of the
    standard referred to, with emphasis on the “standard referred to.”
    If someone makes a claim to standards compliance  but in fact only adheres to say, 80%, then he is guilty of
    the same subjectivity on which the notion of a standard is founded.  It then remains to be proven whether this person is sufficiently compliant or not, perhaps by those who have determined that the rogue has deviated, certainly an amusing exercise, given the lack of the God in the lawn chair.

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