Re: Uppercase question for RFC2119 words

Barry Leiba <> Mon, 28 March 2016 19:09 UTC

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Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2016 15:09:53 -0400
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Subject: Re: Uppercase question for RFC2119 words
From: Barry Leiba <>
To: "Scott O. Bradner" <>
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Cc: "Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor)" <>, "" <>, IETF discussion list <>, IESG <>
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> one minor tweak

A fine tweak.  I'll write it up and pass it to a few people before I
post the I-D.

I'd rather do it as an update to 2119, rather than a complete
revision, even though 2119 is so short, for two reasons:

1. I don't want to get into arguments about other changes.

2. I don't want to make 2119 obsolete: there's value in continuing to
refer to it with that RFC number.


>> On Mar 28, 2016, at 10:09 AM, Barry Leiba <> wrote:
>>> The wishy washy descriptive rather than proscriptive language in the abstract was because I,
>>> the IESG and the community were not of one mind to say that the use of such capitalized
>>> terms should be mandatory - quite a few people felt that the english language was at
>>> least good enough to convey  the writer’s intent without having to aggrandize specific words.
>>> Thus the abstract basically was saying: if you want to use capitalized words here is a standard
>>> way to say what they mean
>> Ah.  Then perhaps the clarification needs to go a little further and
>> make this clear:
>> - We're defining specific terms that specifications can use.
>> - These terms are always capitalized when these definitions are used.
> these definitions are only meaningful if the words are capitalized
>> - You don't have to use them.  If you do, they're capitalized and
>> their meanings are as specified here.
>> - There are similar-looking English words that are not capitalized,
>> and they have their normal English meanings; this document has nothing
>> to do with them.
>> ...and I'd like to add one more, because so many people think that
>> text isn't normative unless it has 2119 key words in all caps in it:
>> - Normative text doesn't require the use of these key words.  They're
>> used for clarity and consistency when you want that, but lots of
>> normative text doesn't need to use them, and doesn't use them.
>> Barry