in reply to
(OT) Internet. Who should conform to who?
At this juncture, I'd like to quote some very good adivice from RFC 1122, section 1.2.2:
1.2.2 Robustness Principle
At every layer of the protocols, there is a general rule whose application can lead to enormous benefits in robustness and interoperability IP:1:
"Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send"
Software should be written to deal with every conceivable error, no matter how unlikely; sooner or later a packet will
come in with that particular combination of errors and attributes, and unless the software is prepared, chaos can ensue. In general, it is best to assume that the network is
filled with malevolent entities that will send in packets
designed to have the worst possible effect. This assumption
will lead to suitable protective design, although the most
serious problems in the Internet have been caused by
unenvisaged mechanisms triggered by low-probability events;
mere human malice would never have taken so devious a course!
Adaptability to change must be designed into all levels of
Internet host software. As a simple example, consider a
protocol specification that contains an enumeration of values
for a particular header field -- e.g., a type field, a port
number, or an error code; this enumeration must be assumed to
be incomplete. Thus, if a protocol specification defines four
possible error codes, the software must not break when a fifth
code shows up. An undefined code might be logged (see below),
but it must not cause a failure.
The second part of the principle is almost as important:
software on other hosts may contain deficiencies that make it
unwise to exploit legal but obscure protocol features. It is
unwise to stray far from the obvious and simple, lest untoward
effects result elsewhere. A corollary of this is "watch out
for misbehaving hosts"; host software should be prepared, not
just to survive other misbehaving hosts, but also to cooperate
to limit the amount of disruption such hosts can cause to the
shared communication facility.