I knew there was something about the projects I’m happiest hanging around the edges of, the feedvalidator and Firefox and Gecko, but I wasn’t quite clear on what it was until I read Robert Sayre quoting Kent M. Pitman about “purports to conform”:
Well, “actual” compliance means bug-free. That’s hard to assure in a system of the size of a CL.
This is the reason I created the term “purports to conform”, which a lot of implementations do. In effect, what that means is “willing to receive bug reports where non-conformance is detected”.
I think in practice the notion of purporting to conform is much more meaningful than the notion of actual conformance. In fact, it’s theoretically possible to actually conform without intending to and without a commitment to continuing to be that way on an ongoing basis… or even without detecting the fact. It’s the commitment that matters, not the “incidental” fact.
That’s it! In both cases (all three, really, since Firefox and Gecko are essentially separate projects that happen to ship together), there’s a bit of “we did it, this is how we did it, if you don’t like it then shut up and go away,” but for the most part it’s a thing in progress, a thing we know isn’t as right as we’d like it to be, and if you can tell us how it’s wrongness is actually affecting you, and we can stop hurting you without hurting someone else instead, then that’s just exactly what we want. We got as close as we could with the things we saw, and now we need you to help us be better.