Standards are the beginning of doom

                    -- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

We all love standards, supposedly they are what makes the modern world possible, improve efficiency, make products compatible, create competitivity, spread ‘best practices, and so on.

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization.

                    -- Frederick Crane

And lets not forget the blesed few that have the joy of sitting in some exotic island with a comittee of super smart people finding a consensus on what the silly and ignorant rest of the world should be doing.

But have you read any standard recently? And before getting though the first dozen pages of griberish didn’t you wonder ‘What the hell were those people smoking?

K: (n., adj.) a binary thousand, which isn’t a decimal thousand or even really a binary thousand (which is eight), but is the binary number closest to a decimal thousand. This has proven so completely confusing that is has become a standard.

                    -- Tonkin's First Computer Dictionary

Multilevel standards are like onions. They’re smelly and make you cry a lot.

                    -- Ron Natalie

Geez, you’d think standards were a continental disease or something.

                    -- Brian Reid

If there was [sic] a single standard for the English language it would not be necessary to support redundant spellings.

                    -- OSF1 ls(1) [man page](

Standards is an area that is constantly changing.

                    -- Carl Cargill (ed. ACM StandardView)

Standards are always out of date. That’s what makes them standards.

                    -- Alan Bennett

How’d it go? “hundred madmen raping a girl for a week and conceiving a homicidal maniac - perfect allegory for ISO standard development process.

                    -- Al Viro on standard commitees.

It indicates your bios authors can’t read standards. Thats a quite normal state of affairs, so common that the kernel cleans up after them.

                    -- Alan Cox

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

                   -- Andrew S. Tannenbaum (disputed)

Alan Cox wrote:
> In theory however i2o is a standard and all i2o works alike. In practice i2o
> is a pseudo standard and nobody seems to interpret the spec the same way, the
> implementations all tend to have bugs and the hardware sometimes does too.

That's a pretty good description of standards in general, at least
when it comes to hardware :-)

                   -- Jens Axboe

[the] W3C couldn’t make bread without at least three different comitees and several hundred megabytes of XML involved

                   -- aiju

standards are increasingly being viewed as competitive weapons rather than as technological stabilizers.

                   -- [James Gosling, Aug 1990](

… bad notations can stifle progress. Roman numerals hobbled mathematics for a millennium but were propagated by custom and by natural deference to authority. Today we no longer meekly accept individual authority. Instead, we have ‘‘standards,’’ impersonal imprimaturs on convention. Some standards are sound and indispensable; some simply celebrate bureaucratic littleness of mind. A harvest of gimmicks to save appearances within the standard has grown up, then gimmicks to save the appearances within the appearances. You know how each one got there: an overnight hack to paste another tumor onto a wild cancerous growth. The concern was with method, regardless of results. The result is extravagantly worse than Roman numerals: you can’t read the notation right to left or left to right. As an amalgam of languages, it can’t be deciphered by a native speaker of any one of them, much as if we were to switch at random places in a number between Roman and Arabic signs and between big-endian and little-endian order. But now that it all ‘‘works’’ — at least for the strong of stomach — the tumors themselves are being standardized.

                    -- Doug (quoted in "the hideous name")

It is not enough that X be standard, it should also be good.

-- Rob Pike (Window Systems Should Be Transparent)

Good standards

There are some sane standards:

Bad standards

How do you tell a bad standard? 
If it begins with 'I", e..g I2O, IPMI
If it ends with "I", e.g. ACPI, EFI, IPMI, etc. 
If it has the work "intelligent" in it, e.g. I2O, IPMI
Or, the best, if it has all three, e.g. IPMI
So IPMI wins! 

    -- Ron Minnich

This pretty much encompases everything else, but we will list some here that are particularly illustrative.

XKCD 927

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