Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2013 October 27

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October 27[edit]

How to get ISO/IEC and ANSI to release the C, C++ and Common Lisp specifications under a free content license?[edit]

They are all free for everyone to implement but not distribute and modify. How to convince them to release the specifications under a free content license such as Creative Commons? Czech is Cyrillized (talk) 04:30, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Well that's a fairly common complaint, but why exactly should they? The money supports the standardization work and exactly why should the people who put the effort into setting up the standards pay even more for people who just want to take advantage of their hard work without putting anything in? Dmcq (talk) 20:46, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the ISO has traditionally had a rigid inflexible one-size-fits-all model of industrial standards, where representatives of the leading grommet-and-flange manufacturers meet to hash out a standard covering grommets and flanges, and then all the players in the grommet-and-flange industry purchase the standard documents. There are many reasons why this industrial standard model doesn't work too well for software interfaces used by millions of people, many not belonging to any large company or institution... AnonMoos (talk) 00:38, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
By using C++ compilers and write C++ programs, you are already implementing C++. But by implementing C++ you are taking advantage of the language ecosystem, not the design or standardization work of the ISO. Czech is Cyrillized (talk) 06:03, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Tom and Dick the leaders in the world of Widgets get together and invite anyone interested to contribute to making a standard for widgets. They put in a fairly hefty amount of work into paying for their representative to talk about widgets and set up standards for ISO. Harry then comes along who has not contributed anything and spends a hundred dollars on the standard so he can compete with Tom and Dick in making standard widgets. Now I don't think you have fully explained why Harry should get it for free. Dmcq (talk) 10:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
That may apply to the ordinary type of industrial standards which ISO was set up to handle, but it really doesn't make all that much sense for the C language, where the standardizers didn't do much more than make minor amendments and clarifications to Kernighan and Ritchie... AnonMoos (talk) 13:40, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
A person with your level of knowledge about C does not require an official standards document, but [1] which is a link to top level for the standardization effort might be of interest to you. Dmcq (talk) 19:50, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, I'm not a C programmer (I lean more toward Awk and Perl, with Lisp in the past), but I've heard complaints that the ISO's rigid inflexible one-size-fits-all model of industrial standard distribution is much less appropriate for software interfaces than for the widget-and-grommet type standards which it was originally devised for. It slows things down with unnecessary "friction" in the programming development community in a way that widget-and-grommet standards don't generally do in the industrial world. That's why almost all Internet standards were done through the IETF rather than the ISO. And ECMA distributes all its standards for free on-line, while ANSI only charges about a tenth the amount as ISO does. ISO seems to be one of the few significant standards-relevant organizations which inflexibly and rigidly refuses to recognize any of the differences between widget-and-grommet industrial type standards and other types of standards efforts... AnonMoos (talk) 20:46, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The OP asked for how to convince them. I believe the answer is that they need a good reason for changing. Complaining about paying is not a reason that will convince them something better is needed. Dmcq (talk) 23:05, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Your efforts in this thread have been mainly devoted to denying that a real problem exists, but many other people do in fact think that there is a significant problem. AnonMoos (talk) 00:23, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
I have said that the person asking the question needs to provide a good reason for change if they want a convincing case and have shown what they are up against. You have not pointed out what the problem is, you have only said somebody else complained about something you don't know much about, and you said software was different but not said in what way that is so or how that is relevant. By the way you can get many ISO standards a bit cheaper via ANSI if you are in America. Dmcq (talk) 11:42, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Anyway wouldn't all this have been better in the computing reference desk? What has it got to do with humanities? I really think the OP would probably be better off getting some good books on the subjects rather than asking about official standards. Dmcq (talk) 11:54, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Whatever -- the progress of software development isn't generally much impeded by nonsensical ISO policies, but of course it would be even better if there weren't such arbitrary and pointlessly unnecessary restrictions on information flow, which have no real reason for existing other than ISO bureaucratic officialdom being too stupid or too rigidly inflexible in their thinking to be able to appreciate the difference between grommet-and-flange industrial standards (usually of interest to a relatively small number of people as part of their employment at medium-to-large sized companies or organizations) vs. software interface standards which are of potential interest to larger numbers of people in more diverse circumstances, who do not necessarily have access to such ISO documents provided as part of their employment. I was the one who pointed out that ANSI standards documents can be much cheaper than equivalent ISO standards documents, but this probably won't be of much help if you don't live in the United States, or if ANSI hasn't formally adopted the ISO standard. AnonMoos (talk) 18:22, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm confused by the question. Would it be a breach of the ISO copyright for anybody to publish their own idea of what standard C should be?  Card Zero  (talk) 21:04, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
The standards documents as distributed by the ISO cost hundreds of dollars, and are fully copyrighted just like any ordinary book. That doesn't eliminate any right to use small fair use quotes, or to come up with your own proposals for new language versions, but it does mean that it would be illegal to publish a "derivative work"... AnonMoos (talk) 21:51, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
There's tons of books on the languages which are far better to use for most normal purposes than the standards documents. Only people who need to check tricky corner cases like compiler writers ever really need to consult them, anyone else writing stuff that depends on obscure bits of them is normally considered a PITA. Dmcq (talk) 09:59, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Sure, that's true, but doesn't help my confusion. What does it matter what license the ISO standard is under, since a modified version of the ISO standard would be a different standard? Unless, perhaps, a modified version would be a breach of copyright, meaning that only a substantially different C spec would be legally allowed. So is the issue here that nobody can slightly tweak the ISO standard? Is there a pressing need to do that? Like Wnt says below, devising a whole new spec seems more worthwhile. Or is this all about the spec documents costing too much (in which case, what's that got to do with the licence, really)? You guys seem familiar with this issue already, as if it was a tired old debate, but it's new on me.  Card Zero  (talk) 15:51, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm no expert, but the solution that comes to mind is to say screw ISO and come up with open standards. Perhaps http://www.gnu.org/prep/standards/ is of help here. Wnt (talk) 15:28, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Is there an ISO standard for how to screw ISO? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 13:59, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma[edit]

Hello, dear friends.

Can anyone help me with the exact birth date of Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma. We show 28 September/28 October 1893, as do many external sites (mostly mirrors, I imagine). Some sites give just the earlier date, some others just the later date. None (that I've seen) refer to the uncertainty, or explain why their version is to be preferred. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:48, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

German Wikipedia goes with September too and sources it to the website of a German encyclopaedia publisher. (The English article had October until 2008, when the hybrid date was added along with two external links [2], [3] – both now dead. Unfortunately, the editor who added it is blocked. The October date was added in 2005 by an editor who is still active, though.) Taknaran (talk) 15:42, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, both. I was really hoping for an impeccable source; like a birth certificate or a birth announcement. We may have to settle for what we can find. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 00:53, 1 November 2013 (UTC)