Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You know you're working on standards too much when...

I saw a traffic sign today on University Ave. that said "Bicycles may use sidewalk". My very first reaction was that the text should be "Bicycles MAY use sidewalk"[1]. It was followed by the thought that it should also read "... thus, pedestrians MUST be prepared to encounter bicycles on the sidewalk."

[1] IETF standards have to use capitalized MAY, MUST and SHOULD to be absolutely clear when the specification is prescriptive, i.e. making a requirement, and not just being descriptive.


Juls said...

I know what you mean, sorta. California Code of Civil Procedure is pretty rife with "may" and "shall" signaling when something is in the court's discretion or if it is a prescribed outcome.

Dave Cridland said...

My mother always gets me by telling me I MUST phone my grandmother. I am weak in the face of RFC2119 language.

But seriously, IETF standards don't have to use RFC2119. CATENATE doesn't, for instance.

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