Standards, such as the consensus standards created by ANSI, IEEE, ISO, W3C, and others, are very expensive to produce and, especially in software, are sometimes of questionable value. They can take years to produce, no vendor is required to conform to them after they are produced, and even if vendors do conform, no consumer is required to care.
This site exists for the purpose of questioning whether all the baggage of software standards are really necessary or appropriate.
But if they aren't always necessary or appropriate, what would one do instead? The thought, and for now it's just a thought because it is not yet implemented, is that substandards are the answer.
Does this even require implementation? Aren't there already lots of ways to publish? That might turn out to be enough. It's worth considering seriously.
If not an implementation, what is this site contributing? At this point, just this thought: That standards might be more than what's needed in a lot of cases, and that substandards might suffice. That standards work is not always healthy, and that the absence of a standards work is not necessarily bad.
But what about consensus? Consensus may be overrated. Do we require consensus about what the best soda or beer is? Can't there just be more than one? Why does a "standard" have to be more than just an individual's (or corporation's) declaration that they have done something a certain way and plan to stick to it. Getting everyone in a community to agree that one way is the best way doesn't sound realistic in all cases, and sounds quite coercive in some cases.
The traditional justification for standards is to accommodate specific issues in antitrust law. Are those issues in play now? Who knows? This idea is not being offered as legal advice. Do markets benefit from standards? Sure. But the claim here is that most of what they benefit from is just “publishing a protocol” and very little of knowing who agreed is what helps. After all, if you want something to run on Windows, and Microsoft says it will and points you to documentation, what more do you really need? Why does knowing that Steve Jobs agrees it's a good idea make things better?
If you have answers to the questions asked here, or if you just have more questions, perhaps you'll want to share your opinion.
Meanwhile, if you want more details, read more details.
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