Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins

Keith Moore <> Wed, 26 October 2022 21:40 UTC

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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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On 10/26/22 15:46, Brian E Carpenter wrote:

> We are a diverse group of people and many here are not native speakers 
> of the language. I suggest that using sarcasm or satire in this group 
> is an ineffective and confusing method. If half the audience takes the 
> sarcasm or the satire seriously, the argument will cancel itself out.
You have persuaded me (via private mail) that at least satire is 
unlikely to work well in IETF context.   I'd support a document that 
recommended against using it.

More generally, if you write something in IETF context that is meant to 
be interpreted as the opposite of the literal meaning of those words, 
and don't explicitly say that, it's not surprising if someone who isn't 
a native English speaker doesn't understand what you intended.

However there is something that might not be universally understood 
here, which is that this kind of response is actually a very common 
convention in (at least American) English.   When someone makes an 
argument that is so unreasonable or unsupportable that any normal kind 
of response (like refuting logic, providing additional information, 
clarifying question) seems pointless, it's common to respond in a 
non-literal way.   Satire and sarcasm are similar in that respect, in 
that the recipient is supposed to realize (without being told) that the 
speaker doesn't mean that response literally.

Quite often the unreasonable/unsupportable argument will be labeled 
"ridiculous" (from a Latin word meaning "laughable"), and the response 
will be intended as some form of ridicule of the argument.

So while I understand and accept the argument that we shouldn't use 
satire or sarcasm in IETF, I think it will take time for English 
speakers who are accustomed to that convention, to learn to not respond 
to such arguments in the conventional way.  And I suspect we need some 
other way to respond to those kinds of arguments, without having to 
pretend as if those arguments were in any way reasonable.