Discussions of web standards frequently describe their official definitions as "impenetrable", "confusing" and "messy", almost as if this is self-evident. I can't remember having seen a web specification praised for it's clarity. I'm interested whether the community thinks this is justified.

Which web standard specs have you had cause to refer to and have found inaccessibly defined or written? How would you improve them?

Or, which have you found to be clear and helpful?

Fitting with the theme:

Answers SHOULD cover one specification only.

Constructive criticism, linking to the spec in question and quoting examples are RECOMMENDED.

2 Answers 2


My issue is with RSS in general. It isn't that it is a mess in an of itself but that there are so many different versions of it and such that it makes it annoying to know which one is really the "right" one.

On top of that there is also Atom which was built to resolve the version issues of RSS but in reality just created one more faction in the debate.

Finally, if you want a confusing tale, check out the history of RSS here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss.


Having spent a fair amount of time reading RFC's, I would not say I have observed the phenomenon you're talking about with internet standards.

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