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   The Internet Principle (was: Some comments on the 1.1 draft)

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Gavin Thomas Nicol wrote:

> "Be conservative in what you produce, and liberal in what you consume" is the 
> internet mantra..

It used to be.  But as volume rose, and more and more Bad Stuff was
being generated, some applications switched to the conservative/
conservative style.  The first case I know of was when C News decided
to drop Usenet articles with non-standard Date: headers, rather than
using a forgiving-but-expensive parser to try to make sense of them.
The howls were many, but compliance of news posting software went up.

(Return-to-sender isn't feasible on Usenet, where From: lines don't
necessarily contain usable email addresses, and random mixtures of
old-style and new-style news forwarders can cause a flood of
bounce-o-grams for a single posting.)

Similarly, HTML was officially conservative/conservative, in
practice conservative/liberal at first, and eventually liberal/liberal,
causing the well-known race to the bottom ("my browser understands
more disgusting tool-generated hacks than yours does").  At the
insistence of the major HTML browser manufacturers, therefore, XML
adopted a conservative/conservative strategy -- so far quite

> That said, even in these cases, I think control characters are not text.

All that is done by line-end characters in XML could be done by
markup, but we do not go so far as to ban them, or even to filter
them out at the parser level.

Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
    the corridors               || http://www.reutershealth.com
during the hours of repose     || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel


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