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Chains of RFCs and Chains of Laws?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the apt-get-law dept.

Software 168

AlexNicoll writes "I recently completed a DNSSEC library for the .NET platform (thanks to Wouter @ NLNetLabs for his help!). While writing the library, I encountered the extremely entertaining concept of following the long chain of DNS-related RFCs on the IETF website. Some RFCs were obsoleted, some were updated, some updates were obsoleted by others, and some were never really formally related or linked — so even finding them was a challenge in search-fu. Finally, I think I got the whole picture, but I'm not sure. Then I got to thinking: searching for the relevant RFCs in IETF RFC chains was a lot like trying to figure out how (in the US) local, regional, state, and federal laws interact with themselves and each other. Since I just recently moved, I thought I ought to know the rules of the place I live in. It turns out to be just as non-trivial, if not more so, than parsing RFC chains. So here's the question: given that the processes are somewhat similar, does anyone know of a project that has tried to consolidate all the information in one place, so that it's in one comprehensive and up-to-date document, for either laws or RFCs?" Update: 05/24 14:24 GMT by KD : Ray Bellis from Nominet took up the challenge and compiled dependency graphs for DNS-related RFCs.

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works for rfcs and laws (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069584)

Do what works.
Don't get caught.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069608)

Don't forget the ubiquitous "Do whatever you want and write the spec later to match."

Re:works for rfcs and laws (4, Funny)

PAjamian (679137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069730)

Sounds like Microsoft's way of writing code. Since the OP is writing a library for .NET it should work fine.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069914)

Sounds like Microsoft's way of writing code. Since the OP is writing a library for .NET it should work fine.

Sounds like you're another sucker of Apple's cock.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069922)

Sorry, I couldn't understand you with Balmers balls in your mouth...

Re:works for rfcs and laws (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069954)

Dont forget to set your iPhone wallpaper to a picture of Steve Jobs face before you insert it

Re:works for rfcs and laws (-1, Troll)

after (669640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070170)

/ China and Linux both suck for the American corporate world

Re:works for rfcs and laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070700)

What a maroon.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070404)

or just ignore the standard like Sprint did for X.400 email standard

Re:works for rfcs and laws (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069752)

Shhh! The first rule of RFC 0 is you don't tell people about RFC 0. That's what the header "SECRET" means.

Wait, uh, nevermind.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (2, Interesting)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069850)

I presume the RTFA complains precisely about the index RFC [ietf.org] , sometimes referred as RFC 0.

And yes, it is spaghetti-like and not always up-to-date.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069760)

[MS's Active Directory Developer] A standard for LDAP? nawwww .... there couldn't be
[MS's Internet Explorer Developer] A standard for HTML? who? what? where? oh alright, maybe one day ...
[MS's Office Developer] A standard for ODT? GTFO!

Re:works for rfcs and laws (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070490)

[MS's Internet Explorer Developer] A standard for HTML? who? what? where? oh alright, maybe one day ...

Monkeys don't talk.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (1)

rjch (544288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069908)

Do what works.
Don't get caught.

Not a particularly helpful suggestion since the poster was asking where they can find out what works properly and how it interacts with local laws.

Re:works for rfcs and laws (1)

Alnitak73 (739151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070234)

Do what works.
Don't get caught.

And that unfortunately, is partly why some people believed (albeit wrongly) that the internet is going to break this week.

The problem with only doing enough to make something "work" is that it doesn't cope with the edge cases, but sometimes those edge cases are important. Introducing DNSSEC exercises many more of those edge cases.

For more information on how not implementing the DNS RFCs properly lead to poor middlebox implementations that could break the internet for some people see RFC 5625 [ietf.org] .

Academia (2, Interesting)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069616)

Lawyers and Network Engineers.
In all seriousness, they're probably our best tool invented to date.

Like my professor said when I asked him if he had an auto-grader "Yes, it's called TAs".

Re:Academia (2, Insightful)

feuerfalke (1034288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069640)

Lawyers cost a lot of money.

Re:Academia (2, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069702)

Lawyers and Network Engineers.

In all seriousness, they're probably our best tool invented to date.

There is of course the horrible situation that even when well-studied Lawyers and RFC "rules lawyers" get together, they can still disagree about things.

Then, when you get a person to decide their differing opinions, no one goes back and annotates the original source, so you end up with hojillions of instances of case law that you have to read to properly understand the law.

Re:Academia (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070162)

We just need to make courts contribute to JurisPedia [jurispedia.org] !

Re:Academia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070042)

That sounds like a project that Google might be interested in supporting, if someone were to start work on it.

hi (-1, Offtopic)

tommydesai (1802956) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069632)

Good pictures plus the good article certainly made this segment amazing.Keep it up! Croatia Apartments [welcome-to-croatia.com]

Refactoring (3, Interesting)

Laz10 (708792) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069634)

I have actually been thinking about this.

Just like Computer Science got Design Patterns from architecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Alexander)

Lawmakes should take the concept of refactoring from computer science (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_refactoring)

Re:Refactoring (3, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069660)

I have actually been thinking about this.

Just like Computer Science got Design Patterns from architecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Alexander)

Lawmakes should take the concept of refactoring from computer science (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_refactoring)

They kind of do, consult Restatement of torts, etc.

Re:Refactoring (5, Interesting)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069780)

How about we version control the legal code, consider amendments to be patches, new laws to be insertions into the relevant sections, and deprecated text removed in a deletion patch?

State governments could then add their own changeset to the upstream (Federal) laws where they can and also maintain their own single cohesive text as a version controlled document.

Unfortunately such a thing is probably decades if not centuries away.

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069794)

I would actually be interested it that, but it would take thousands (possibly millions or billions) of man hours to convert the current system over to a version control system.

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069992)

[Shameless plug]

http://www.opensourcecountry.org

My attempt to create a website that applies Version Control concepts to the idea of make legal frameworks. Very VERY alpha at the moment, working on the Version Control bit (Git) at the moment but there is never enough time.

Re:Refactoring (2, Insightful)

kronosopher (1531873) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070152)

Reaching the point where the establishment accepts and adopts such methodologies would itself require magnanimous effort. In other words, instituting real transparency and accountability is nearly insurmountable considering the immense corruption already woven into corporations and the gov't. Systematically dismantling and reforming corrupt institutions is realistically decades, if not centuries, away. Like the parent mentioned, the expense of instituting such a system is tremendous. That in addition to manufacturing a favorable political climate is ludicrous. Not to mention the current establishments propensity towards violence, therein reducing any notion of true democracy or policy consensus to pure frivolity. Attempting to implement this given the current climate would most probably result in violent retaliation from the elite, barring a major catalyzing event(natural disaster/nuclear fallout/chuck norris dying/etc).

For Americans who can't grasp the idea of corporate relevancy and the disgusting lengths corporations go to maintain it; keep in mind that throughout the entirety of human history there has yet to be a single democratic or representative government that avoided succumbing to a domestic and/or foreign authoritarian imperialist influence. On another note, until large factions of the military adopt a strict doctrine of supporting the aforementioned kinds of reform(and/or the military decentralizes into regional militias), it is very unlikely we will see the masses wrenching control back from international banks and money institutions(our primary obstacles in achieving liberty atm)

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069802)

Mod up!

Re:Refactoring (1)

feuerfalke (1034288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069886)

This would be a great idea; I'd love to see something like this, it would be very useful. The problem is making it happen!

Re:Refactoring (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069900)

Rofl you nerd fuck, you don't need that shit.

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069996)

Rofl you nerd fuck, you don't need that shit.

There are many things that aren't strictly necessary that are, nevertheless, very useful.

Re:Refactoring (5, Interesting)

DynamicPhil (785187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069958)

Well, someone (a hobbyist) is doing just that (in Sweden, with Swedish law): https://lagen.nu/ [lagen.nu]

Technologically, he has a description of what he does. I'll try to translate:
he fetches laws from the Cabinet Office web server, which he converts into XML (XHTML2 med RDFa)

He then retrieves cases from the Courts Administration FTP server, also converts this into XML. (via words "save as HTML", and then converting).

He then compiles all the meta-data from all the documents into RDF -graph. This is used in conjunction with style sheets to create XHTML1.0 pages, ready for displaying in a browser.

finally, indexes and Table of contents are created and the result is hosted on Apache-servers. The code is written in python, with parts in XSLT.

Impressive, impressive work. Which landed him a job in e-gov (I hope he keeps the law-project going!)

Re:Refactoring (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070686)

Projects like these are probably the only way to down-size the ever-growing law texts.

Re:Refactoring (3, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069974)

As a recently passed example, example: the full-text of SB-1070 [azleg.gov] .

Some laws already are passed as if they were diffs. Although, we do a poor job of keeping version histories navigable such as they are on Wikipedia, but a recording agency could conceivably keep track of the legal text that way.

Common forms are to underline text that is being added, and strike-through indicating text that will be deleted.

For instance, scroll down to "Sec 4. Section 13-2319": the original bullet "E." has been struck through, and replaced with "F."

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070006)

Do you know the number one thing the legal code really needs?
Documentation.

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070030)

This is for EU legislation. http://euwiki.org/Pippilongstrings
More applicable to other countries around the world than you might think: the EU doesn't just export wine, it also exports legislation.

Re:Refactoring (1)

Seth024 (1241160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070248)

We have something like that in Belgium.

The "Staatsblad" is a collection of all federal laws a Belgian citizen is supposed to know and follow. A law, royal decrete... is not valid until it's publicised in there.

The latest version is 87.000 pages.

Doesn't quite apply (2, Informative)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070292)

Although that's a neat idea, it doesn't quite apply to American laws. If I understand right, you're thinking of a standard set of federal laws all states follow by default, with states just changing them a bit. But the legal system we had under the Constitution inherently had independent legal entities with different authority, state vs. federal. Federal laws wouldn't cover the same subjects, for the most part, so topics like labor law and pollution control would be stand-alone state laws rather than changes to a master federal law.

At least, that's how it used to be.

Re:Doesn't quite apply (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070438)

yes you would have to change to a model like the UK or France where the states (county's /departments) would have resposibilities for cleaning the streets running education but have no lawmaking ability.

Re:Refactoring (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070312)

How about we version control the legal code, consider amendments to be patches, new laws to be insertions into the relevant sections, and deprecated text removed in a deletion patch?

That's close to how it works now. See the long comment I just submitted about the US Code for details.

Re:Refactoring (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070452)

yes and having actulaty been involved in this sort of process it makes me sad that peopel dont know how parlimentary procedure works though the avearge RFC author would be totaly lost wording in motions is absolutly crucial and the fluffy make it up as you go along that charactises RFC's wouldnt cut it.

Re:Refactoring (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070428)

Yes you have just described how organisations that are run by members work - your point is ?

the system you suggest doesn’t really work for the federal model you get citizens having different rights dependant on where they live (a zip code lottery if you will) for example.

If your suggesting that changing from a federal system(set up to suit the agenda of rich agricultural landowners) to a more centralised one might be more appropriate for a super power in the 21st century – I would probably agree with you. But the states rightists and local machines who have got fat on the corrupt pork barrel politics would never stand for it.

Re: Refactoring (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070704)

>>such a thing is probably decades if not centuries away.

Actually not. A client of mine [propylon.com] does a lot of work on legislative projects to get very much the effect you describe. Doubtless there are others doing this too.

It's a little more complex than you imagine, though, as a patch on one statute may be a deletion on another, which in turn affects yet another, which has implications for a different section of the first statute, changes to which affect the first patch, end so on, somewhere between ad nauseam and ad infinitum. Apparently it is possible, though; you just have to do the math. I dimly recall a paper from an ?Italian group at a conference years ago which dealt with the theoretical underpinning for this kind of thing (in either SGML or XML).

Re:Refactoring (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069960)

That's basically what the United States Code [wikipedia.org] is. Laws are compiled and sectioned into logical areas, so e.g. a bill that relates to both bankruptcy law and mining regulation (many laws have absurd things packaged together), will be refactored so the bankruptcy parts get codified into Title 11, while the mining regulations go into Title 30.

Re:Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070246)

woot! Dr. Hawking uses Slashdot! (either that or the parent has a monospace fetish)

Re:Refactoring (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070270)

As another comment notes, the "Restatement of Torts" (and Contracts, &c.) series do that. It's important to note that those documents aren't just a "restatement" but an attempt to reshape the law. (See also the politics of the DSM in medicine...) That's grounds for eyeing those things with some skepticism, since the Restatements are slightly different from what you might think they are. Not just a helpful summary but a push in a particular direction, that is.

There are also a "Uniform Commercial Code" and "Model Penal Code". These are proposed laws developed by US legal scholars based on existing laws stretching back to English common law. The UCC and MPC themselves aren't law, but I believe every state has adopted some version of each. These things are explicitly offered as replacements for previous laws, while retaining the same concepts and cleaning up confusion. For instance, the MPC gives a standard scale of culpability definitions like "intentionally", "knowingly", "recklessly", "negligently", and "general liability". It also explicitly establishes that nothing is illegal unless there's a specific law against it -- very important in preventing oppression. And the UCC codifies older concepts about the default terms in a contract and how it's interpreted, like how a conflict between "I'll sell you 500 red widgets" and "Okay, send me 500 blue widgets" is resolved.

Re:Refactoring (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070386)

I have actually been thinking about this. Just like Computer Science got Design Patterns from architecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Alexander) Lawmakes should take the concept of refactoring from computer science (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_refactoring)

Oh thats why Patterns suck so much then :-) you know of course that the only thing an architect sould be alowed to do is under strict medical supervison be alowed to select the paint colors for the walls.

And don’t forget that anomaly’s in law provide rich source of income for the legal profession - this is what a senior HR person in BT commented on the introduction of age discrimination laws a few years ago.

Those who think that refactoring can be blindly applied to lawmaking just don’t understand how politics works – its adversarial system so laws get amended and the consequencials don’t always get done properly – Id suggest reading Citrine, Roberts or Erskine and May.

Reminds me of... (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069644)

IANAL -> IANARFCL

in fact, organizing RFCs into something consistent would be perfect, but I guess there's no one to do it right, just as with the law.

This is called codification (2, Informative)

dmitriy (40004) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069646)

Re:This is called codification (3, Informative)

matunos (1587263) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069840)

Something tells me the Code of Hammurabi wasn't subject to a lot of revision. It was, literally, set in stone.

Re:This is called codification (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070378)

Which might actually not be a bad idea these days...

Mr. Congressman, which part of "shall make no law" was unclear to you again? *smack*

Re:This is called codification (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070462)

um and what happens when you know "stuff happens" or "events dear boy events" as Macmillan said. would you rather have an unelected judge or an elected representiative decide whats legal or not.

Austlii (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069648)

AusLii [austlii.edu.au] . You did mean Australian law, didn't you?

probably illegal in most states (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069678)

When I worked at a public library in Virginia, we were told that we weren't allowed to show someone how to use the index of the federal and state codes without having a license to practice law in Virginia. I've heard similar tales of Texas. I am not a lawyer, so I can't possibly understand whether or not what I just typed related to actual law or whimsy.

Re:probably illegal in most states (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069714)

When I worked at a public library in Virginia, we were told that we weren't allowed to show someone how to use the index of the federal and state codes without having a license to practice law in Virginia. I've heard similar tales of Texas. I am not a lawyer, so I can't possibly understand whether or not what I just typed related to actual law or whimsy.

Some states have ridiculously pedantic laws about who can practice law, or give legal advice. Then they have really wide interpretations of what constitutes "legal advice".

So often times, it becomes a matter of policy for various institutions to reduce their liability. They typically are told to do this by their lawyers.

Re:probably illegal in most states (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070200)

So, in theory, there could be places where even saying "ask a lawyer" would be interpreted as "legal advice" and thus punishable.

That'd make for a really interesting court case though

DA: "I will show, that Snow Girl gave John Doe legal advice by recommending Dewey, Screwem & Howe."
Judge: "Are you shitting me?"
DA: "No, it's right here in section 4: Any kind of legal advice or suggestions may only be given by a lawyer, and Snow Girl clearly suggested that John Doe whould consult this law firm."

Re:probably illegal in most states (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069980)

For the federal codes, you can get full-text-searchable ASCII directly from the source [house.gov] .

http://www.saysuncle.com/2010/04/27/keep-your-boog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069684)

so many laws so little time to break them all

Just wondering.. (0, Flamebait)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069698)

Is it April 1st in kdawson land?

Zen RFC (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069700)

When you have a full understanding of the RFCs you must then appreciate that you cannot understand them because they cannot be understood. They are a Gordian Knot. The intricacies of their contradictions are beautiful both in their symmetry and their horror. Some of them are simply humor. That the Internet that we so rely upon is built upon these is nothing less than a triumph of irony.

They are not laws, per se. They are questions. Hence the title: "Request For Comments". The ambivalence is diabolical in its simplicity. It works only because nobody else has come up with better questions.

Isn't what you're describing... (2, Interesting)

titten (792394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069716)

A wiki?

You're looking for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069726)

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc-activeT.html

I've been down the same path with IMAP related RFCs, which number around 38.

yeah. (1)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069732)

It's called wikipedia.

Here's what makes RFCs much easier: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069740)

Remember, the VAST majority of RFCs are NOT de jure standards. They can become so; at which point they become STDs (or BCPs for "protocols" as opposed to technologies). They average less than two a year; there's less than 70 of them (about twice that many for BCPs).

When they become true standards, they almost NEVER become obsoleted (except from disuse) or amended; I think that there are all of about 10 that have truly been obsoleted.

Now, I see what you're saying; following de facto standards is good too. But it involves work, and it has been traditionally seen as unimportant because most standards are only proposed with the expectation that they will slowly find their way down the standards path to become true standard.

I guess it's kind of like Physics; if you want to know what is all-but-universally accepted, you could do that in an hour. But if you want to catch up on the developments of the last century since the last round of formal standards were agreed upon by consensus (other than a couple of relatively recent stand-outs)? Well, you'll need years. You are implementing something that is the pinnacle of the field, after all; if you weren't expert enough to understand the chain of RFCs, you wouldn't be expert enough to implement those cutting-edge standards.

The difference with laws, though, is that we (or at least, the system) DO expect all but the most incapable of us to know, understand, and abide them - all of them, all of the time. I don't really think it compares. Joe Random doesn't need to know the intricacies of DNSSEC to check his facebook, after all.

Re:Here's what makes RFCs much easier: (2, Informative)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070068)

I'd really like to know the one-hour version of "everything that is all-but-universally accepted about physics".

Re:Here's what makes RFCs much easier: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070314)

Try anything by Richard Feynman.

DotFaggot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069748)

"I recently completed a DNSSEC library for the .NET platform

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhaha...ahaha... I'm sorry. Faggot developers developers developers developers developers developers...

His Sweatiness awaits your sucklings now.

Nice work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069762)

I have read a few of the DNS-related RFC's and I have to say that they are probably among the worst of all RFC's.
Most other RFC's seem to be written by people who are used to write software after specification. Some of the DNS-related RFC's are.. well.. possible written by someone sufficiently detached from reality. ... A math prof? or perhaps a meth addict, can't really tell for sure.

Same with SIP (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069818)

A friend of mine is a SIP guru and often does presentations on SIP security. He usually shows a slide where all relevant SIP RFCs are listed. The slide (e.g. see here [fostel.org] on Page 5) was already very full in 2006.

CU, Martin

Mostly RFC's mostly suck ditch water. (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069826)

RFC's are like democracy, it is the worst form of government known on the face of the planet, it is just better then everything else we have tried thus far.

At their best they are precise and ambiguous, at their worst they are inscrutable and comprehensible.

Specifications via consensus means that every pissant and their cousin gets to have a whack at making sure their sacred ox does not get gored, or conversely making sure that the sacred ox of someone they don't like does in fact get gored and gored badly.

Having actually sat down and traced through a few of these I feel your pain. At some point they pretty much kinda work, sorta, maybe. After a couple of cocktails and a few huffy e-mails you might actually get to grips with whatever the problem is and get some work done. Unfortunately by then you have forgotten what the hell you were trying to do in the 1st place.

Re:Mostly RFC's mostly suck ditch water. (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069946)

Yup, its better to choose a protocol like MAPI and try and reverse engineer it instead of using published standards like SMTP / IMAP... Oh... thats not working out so well now, is it? IMAP / SMTP may have billions of mostly compatible implementations but MAPI has oh, 1 defacto implementation. I am glad that some open source projects seem to be getting close to parity with MS releases now (Over 20 years after the first MAPI release..).

Then there's SMB.. same broken record, just a different story.

Re:Mostly RFC's mostly suck ditch water. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070140)

Get a sense of humor, faggot.

Get a sense of proportion, cocksmoker. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070602)

Get a sense of proportion, cocksmoker.

Have you ever wondered (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069856)

Why lawyers are so essential to a legal victory, and are so highly paid? This is why.

If laws ever became navigable by ordinary people, lawyers would be obsolete - and if machines ever became sentient enough to understand what their users wanted, so would programmers. :P

Re:Have you ever wondered (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070022)

> and if machines ever became sentient enough to
> understand what their users wanted, so would programmers. :P

Followed fairly rapidly by the users.

Re:Have you ever wondered (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070458)

I suppose you're ri---- [lost carrier]

Long live the GLORIOUS MACHINE REVOLUTION - KILL ALL HU-MANS!

New Zealand already does that (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069882)

does anyone know of a project that has tried to consolidate all the information in one place, so that it's in one comprehensive and up-to-date document, for either laws or RFCs?

Yes, try here [legislation.govt.nz] . I don't think that includes any local laws, but it's good for the government's stuff.

Oh, you meant laws in the USA? Sorry, can't help you there.

Re:New Zealand already does that (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069910)

I don't think that includes any local laws

I may be wrong there, Regulations [legislation.govt.nz] seem to fit the Bill (or Act).

Some advice... (0, Troll)

J Mack Daddy (774273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069888)

> I encountered the extremely entertaining concept of following the long chain of DNS-related RFCs

Get out more.

Subjects must not know the laws! (2, Insightful)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069906)

"Sorry, We are not required to tell you what laws you must abide by. We are only required to tell you which one's you've broken!"

Now get in the back of the car, sucker!

>.>

It is easy (2, Informative)

rolfc (842110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069918)

You keep a database with all current versions. It is searchable and you don't see the old ones if you don't want to.

The swedish parliament does it. http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/index.aspx?nid=3912 [riksdagen.se]

Re:It is easy (1)

aj50 (789101) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070426)

The problem stated is that of determining what the current version is.

Unfortunately I can't read Swedish so I can't comment on your link but here's a recent example of the problem from the UK.

This section [opsi.gov.uk] of the controversial Digital Economy Act adds new text to this section [opsi.gov.uk] of the Communications Act 2003. As far as I am aware, there is nowhere I can find a copy of the Communications Act after the changes from later legislation have been applied. This means that to ensure I am compliant with the law, I need to be aware of the original Communications Act and every subsequent act which changes it.

Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32069928)

Most (all?) US state laws are online these days. As is Federal law. But there is the US Code, which is big and the Code of Federal Regulations, which is bigger. States also have codified laws
as well as regulations. If you want to know about interactions between laws and law or laws and regulations, I think Shepherd's
Citation Index is where a lawyer would start. Of course that assumes you have a starting point and aren't just browsing.

how about this site (1)

fwx (1803006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069948)

Did you look at www.rfc-editor.org?

Re:how about this site (1)

jaria (247603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070074)

You should try to IETF tools site, they have very good linking of the various RFCs and how they depend on each other. For instance, if you look at http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5395 [ietf.org] you can click on the RFC it replaces (=obsoletes) or the RFCs it updates.

its not in the US (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32069956)

http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Default.aspx [bka.gv.at]

.

But I would like to see peer review implkemented in the legislative proces in my country!

Re:its not in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070230)

But I would like to see peer review implkemented in the legislative proces in my country!

Or even in the post feature ;)

Re:its not in the US (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070400)

how would you do that? an elected lay chamber (no lawyers allowed) that scrutinised all laws would be one way that it could work but do you have the knowledge and time to do this? IT takes at least one eection cycle to work out whats going on and how not to have the wool pulled over your eyes

Something like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070014)

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/np.html

Napoleonic code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070156)

For laws, Napoleon in the 18th century decided to join up all the laws in the Napoleonic Code, which is still the base for most law systems worldwide.

A good example of a law database (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070186)

Is the UK's statute law database:
www.statutelaw.gov.uk
which shows you all the laws currently in force, as amended.

Two problems:
1 - You sometimes need the law as it was (eg as often happens in sex abuse cases, someone is charged with an offence committed decades ago - what did the law say then?). The solution is called a library - or an expensive privately managed database.
2 - not all laws are codified. In common law jurisdictions, statute is just one source of law. A settled line of decided cases can be another - and those are not necessarily all available in one place (or for free). Prime example - murder. There is no statute in England and Wales that defines or forbids murder - it is an offence against (and defined by) the common law.
And badly written statutes make me want to commit it.

Fuck no (4, Insightful)

ndogg (158021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070276)

If such a thing were done, it would make the laws easy to understand and follow, and we can't have that, otherwise we'll bankrupt the lawyers!

As much as I hate the bitch, Ayn Rand was right about one thing--that governments make needless laws to create criminals of its citizens in hopes they'll pay them to not be criminals any more (well, paraphrased, anyway).

This thought process doesn't really work for computer standards, so I couldn't give a reason for the disorganization of the RFCs.

That said, one counter argument to the second paragraph of this is Hanlon's Razor--"Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."--which would play to the disorganization all around.

For law US Code does what you want (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070304)

The US Code is kind of what you are asking for. Before the US Code, the way Federal law worked was that the Congress would pass bills. Once a year, the Government Printing Office prints a volume containing the laws for that year, in chronological order. These are called the Statutes at Large.

The law at any given time was the net result of applying all of the Statutes at Large up to that point, plus any bills that had been passed since the cutoff for the latest Statutes at Large and whose effective date had passed.

Bills are often written as essentially diffs to previous bills. Figuring out the law at a given time under this system could be a pain in the ass, of course.

To make it a lot easier to find and understand the law, the House or Representatives started producing the US Code. Essentially, this takes all the laws from the Statutes at Large, and arranges them by topic, rather than chronologically, applying all the diffs, resulting in an organized statement of the law. Note that a given bill from the Statutes at Large might end up going into the Code in several parts, because the bill might cover affect multiple topics.

The Code was not official. If there was a conflict between something in the code and a bill from the Statutes at Large, the latter won.

However, for some sections of the code, Congress has passed bills saying that those sections of the code ARE the offical statement of the law, superceding the Statutes at Large. This is called "enacting into positive law". An example of a section of the US Code that has been enacted into positive law is 17 USC, which covers copyrights. Thus, if you want to find the current copyright law, you could start with the version of the US Code that had 17 USC enacted into positive law. You'd still have to check the Statutes at Large, but only for bills that came after the enactment of 17 USC. On the other hand, 26 USC, the Internal Revenue Code, has not been enacted into positive law, so for the definitive statement of US tax law, you need to dig through the Statutes at Large for it all.

The above is what the government does. There are third party companies that provide more. West Publishing, for instance, publishes the "United States Code Annotated" (USCA). USCA reprints the US Code, but for each section it gives citations to the legislative history, and citations to court cases that concerned that section, along with short summaries of the relevant points of those cases. This is a great resource for legal research, but its not cheap. The complete set is $7663, although you can buy individul volumes. Copyright, for example, is covered in two volumes at $159 each.

I don't know if its still around or used much, but West also had a classification system of law, where they basically had a giant outline of all the topics that law might cover. They published annotated volumes that reprinted court cases, with each case preceeded with a summary written by West employees, which included references into that giant outline for all the topics that case covered, with short summaries of those particular points. They also published a big series of volumens that basically consisted of that giant outline, giving for each topic the case cites to the cases that involved that topic, and short summaries. If you were trying to resarch something, you could figure out where your topic appeared in West's outline, find it in those volumes, and quickly see the leading relevant cases and what they said. West is not authoritative, of course, so you'd then have to go read those cases.

Another company, The Frank Shepard Company, published a set of volumes that listed cases for each year, along with citations to all subsequent cases that cited those cases, with a summary of whether they were cited favorably or disfavorably. Once you found a case that you thought you might want to use (say, through West's resources), you could look it up in Shepard's to make sure it had not been overturned (it is embarassing to rely on a case that has been overturned!).

Note that all this stuff was designed before computers, and was designed to let lawyers and other legal researchs organize, understand, and find vast amounts if information efficiently. The system worked very well, although all the necessary books took up a lot of space.

Library of Congress (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070342)

The Library of Congress of course.

we did! @ askemos.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070408)

Askemos (www.askemos.org) treats chains of code like contracts and laws. Actually as ist constructing principle.

Askemos works like the web; but with servers replaced by a p2p network.
So often your personal node will in fact execute code which would normally run on a remote service.

To make sure that both parties (you (as node owner) and the owner of the website your machine serves want this to happen, the distribution/replication of code follows a chain of "executable contracts".

Westlaw (1)

tuxish (1022783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070470)

Westlaw http://www.westlaw.com/ [westlaw.com] lists Acts, Orders, etc with highlighted bits where stuff has been revoked, amended and replaced. I've used the Westlaw UK for my university course and it's proven quite helpful.

you should write RFCs (1)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32070522)

It turns out to be just as non-trivial, if not more so,

You should be writing RFCs. Not reading them.

Why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070554)

just move to a civilized country, where every tiny village doesn't get to choose whether murder is illegal or not?

How to use RFCs for software development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32070676)

The IETF has a very large body of engineers and academics. These are people who *know* how to read papers, how to do research, and how to build a bibliography database BEFORE they start the real work. Obviously, the process is not optimized for the lazy (it would be useless to even try, anyway).

Here's how it goes re. RFCs (rough guide, feel free to improve):

Phase 1: Bibliography selection
1. You look for some base RFCs in the IETF RFC editor pages (http://www.rfc-editor.org/). These pages *already* give you all "superseedes/superseeded/enhances/modifies/obsolete" information, fully cross-linked. There *is* an index RFC (RFC 0). All RFCs have a relevant "references" section as well, and all references should be checked for relevance.

2. You locate the reference implementation. Anything worth bothering with has one (often two), and that reference implementation's documentation will reference relevant materials. At least one of the reference implementations is likely to be FLOSS, and its code will be a powerful documentation on border conditions... For DNS, the main reference implementation would be ISC BIND ("reference" does not imply "best", so let's not go religious on DNS servers here).

3. You go to the IETF pages, locate the proper work-group responsible for that area of knowledge, and check their references lists and published works. You should also locate their mailing-list, and take a look at the archives to check for relevant information.

4. You do some targetted internet searchs and ask around in the IETF mailing-lists and Usenet, if applicable. If you have access to such, you should also hunt down relevant papers for cutting-edge research (but the hunt for information in the IETF workgroup will likely have turned over any ongoing research of real relevance already).

Now you have a massive list of documentation to go over...

Phase 2: study the bibliography you selected

1. Read it all. Organize it. Select all relevant information for later use. Locate all obviously unclear functionality, and check the reference implementation. If you locate references to important information, search for it and add to your references database.

2. Document the flow and details of all protocols at the level of detail you will need for the implementation, so that you are sure you know the answer to all bondary conditions, etc.

3. Ask the people who know better (hint: there is at least the IETF work-group. For DNS, there is also NANOG, and the engineering bodies of just about every RIR) all remaining unclear information, and for bonus points, submit clarification proposals for the relevant RFCs (or a supplemental one).

Phase 3: system/software engineering

Outside of the scope of this slashdot post ;-)

If this is too hard, that is a hint that you should be doing something else for a living.

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