Re: SHOULD vs MUST case sensitivity

"C. M. Heard" <heard@pobox.com> Sat, 28 June 2008 01:54 UTC

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From: "C. M. Heard" <heard@pobox.com>
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To: IETF Discussion <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: SHOULD vs MUST case sensitivity
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On Fri, 27 Jun 2008, Dave Crocker wrote:
> Eric Gray wrote:
> > > (By the way, I hope folks are clear that IETF use of these words as
> > normative
> > > does not depend upon the case that is used?)
> > 
> > This is NOT true.  These terms are explicitly defined in all capital letters
> > to make it possible to distinguish when they are being used as normative and
> > when they are not.
> 
> 
> Sorry, no.  Please re-read rfc 2219.  Specifically:
> 
>      "These words are often capitalized."
> 
> The key word is "often" which means not always which means not required.

That quote is taken out of context.  Here is the full text:

   In many standards track documents several words are used to signify
   the requirements in the specification.  These words are often
   capitalized.  This document defines these words as they should be
   interpreted in IETF documents.  Authors who follow these guidelines
   should incorporate this phrase near the beginning of their document:

      The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL
      NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED",  "MAY", and
      "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
      RFC 2119.

I read this to mean that the words are often capitalized in many 
(pre-RFC 2119) documents.  I also read the following two statements 
to mean that the words will be capitalized when following the 
guidelnes in RFC 2119.

The common usage in the IETF is to capitalize the words when used 
with the meanings in Sections 1-5 of RFC 2119 and to use then in 
lower case when ordinary English usage is meant.  RFC 2119 itself 
follows this usage (see, e.g., Section 6, "Guidance in the use of 
these Imperatives").

//cmh
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