Re: [Tools-discuss] Chinese name order versus surname and initial attributes in <author>

Toerless Eckert <> Tue, 27 July 2021 20:05 UTC

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Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2021 22:05:34 +0200
From: Toerless Eckert <>
To: Carsten Bormann <>
Cc: Michael Richardson <>, Paul Hoffman <>, Tools Team Discussion <>
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Subject: Re: [Tools-discuss] Chinese name order versus surname and initial attributes in <author>
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Btw: Someone told me in PM that my mail was perceived as a joke
and as an attack against persons, cultures and identities. It
actually is meant very serious, and i don't quite understand
how it could be misunderstood in that way.

I have repeatedly had trouble figuring out gender/pronouns for 
IETF participants that i never met in person, especially because
given names often do not even are clear indicators of gender and
of course not at all any preferred pronoun if its not simply derived
from obvious gender. Sure, its not a deadly problem one can
write text around it, just repeating the name instead of using
a pronoun, but then if one makes a mistak with the name, then
that blunder (such as using wrong order or using the surname
when you wanted to use the given name but didn't know which of the
two names that is) becomes even more problematic.

As far as i know from passing, social networks do provide the
option to explicitly enter public profile information like
given name, surname, preferred pronoun. I think it would be
great if datatracker would provide such fields. When i then again
fumble addressing a person in IETF mails incorrectly, i can at least
suggest to the person to fill in the datatracker profile to avoid others
to make the same mistakes. And maybe preferred name ordering
(surname given-name or other way around) would be useful information
to declare as well.

To the extend that the mayority of RFC authors have datatracker
accounts, this might also help with the original issue of this


On Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 03:57:38PM +0200, Toerless Eckert wrote:
> In the first place it would be good to figure out if we can
> come up with the list of things someone is expected to provide
> to the IETF community if that person wants to be correctly
> addressed by the community. Whether in publishing or email.
> a) Identity pronoun
> b) How to address the person in informal communications (email)
>    given name only ? Surname ? surname-given-name ? ...
> c) How to address the person in information communications
>    when there is a need for further disambiguation (as in JohnA...JohnZ).
> d) How to address the person in places where the IETF may be
> under some legal constraints, which i guess is RFC publishing.
> Aka: Sufficient good faith effort for IETF not being made
> responsible in any possible legal proceedins like IPR litigation
> (Your John Doe does not exist, IETF is violating copy and trademarks
>  in this RFC, please pay $$$$$$).
> IMHO, d) mostly likely comes for free when we had a)-c) in before,
> and i for once do regularily struggle with a)-c) for people
> whom i have not met in at least voice conferencing, but only
> encounter in IETF email threads. 
> Alternatively, we can simply address IETF'ler in email by 
> the first RFC number in which that person is the first
> named author. But that is probably discriminatory ;-)
> Of course, i am also happy to address other IETF'er purely
> by "rfcXXXX siad"
> I am happy to address
> On Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 03:11:44AM +0200, Carsten Bormann wrote:
> > > 
> > > (The meta-problem is that we seem to be perpetually behind on fixing our XML
> > > specifications. At least, that's what it appears to me)
> > 
> > If we try to do semantic markup, and don’t think the semantics through, we'll need to do endless fixing.
> > 
> > In a similar case, postal addresses, we are in the process of deciding to get away from semantic markup and let everyone format their addresses the way they like them.  May seem like a regression, or like a liberation, depending on your perspective.
> > 
> > Personal names are really hard to get right [1].
> > RFCs make that much harder than it needs to be by employing initials, which are a computation on personal names that only makes sense if you don’t care about most of the people in the world.
> > If we got rid of that, we could reduce the need for semantic markup of names, and everything would be wonderful.  Depending on your perspective.
> > 
> > Grüße, Carsten
> > 
> > [1]:
> > Read on at least until you get down to number 40 :-)
> > 
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