Re: Uppercase question for RFC2119 words

Barry Leiba <> Mon, 28 March 2016 14:10 UTC

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Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2016 10:09:51 -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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> 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.
- 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.