[ppml] Policy Proposal 2005-9: 4-Byte AS Number

Scott Leibrand sleibrand at internap.com
Thu Dec 22 11:39:56 EST 2005

On 12/22/05 at 3:17pm -0000, Michael.Dillon at btradianz.com wrote:

> > The problem with "plain English" is that it conveys less information
> > and/or is more ambiguous than precisely defining and then properly using
> > new terminology.
> This is not so. Please read the Securities and
> Exchange Commission's handbook on Plain English.
> After that it will be clear that PLAIN ENGLISH does not convey
> less information, is less ambiguous and does not require
> the audience to be an expert in any particular NEW
> terminology.
> http://www.sec.gov/pdf/handbook.pdf
> I will admit that we cannot entirely avoid Internet
> related terminology in ARIN, however there is no need
> for POLICIES to use obscure terminology in an organization
> that claims to act for the benefit of all citizens of
> the countries in its service area.

I don't believe that "2-byte ASN" and "4-byte ASN" constitute obscure
terminology.  Anyone tangentially familiar with Internet terminology knows
what a byte is, and can figure out the most important differences between
ASNs of 2 vs. 4 bytes in length.  However, if a reader is unclear as to
the meaning of those terms, he needs only read six lines of the policy to
fully understand them in plain English (decimal) terms.

> >  Because the real world drives ARIN policy, ARIN cannot simply ignore
> > that fact and blithely continue to allocate autonomous system numbers
> > of 65536 and above without working with the routing community
> > (represented by the IETF, BGP implementors, NANOG, et. al.) to ensure
> > such numbers will be usable.  That's why this policy has been
> > proposed.
> There you go, writing in PLAIN ENGLISH. Do you support
> a policy that says:
> On 1 January 2007, applicants for an AS number may
> request that ARIN issue them a number greater than
> 65535. If the applicant does not request such a number
> then ARIN will issue a number less than or equal to
> 65535.
> That is plain English, covers exactly the 1st clause of
> 2005-9, doesn't require a nomenclature or terminology
> section, and is the kind of text I would prefer to see
> in ARIN's policy handbook.

I would support such a policy if it were proposed, yes.  However, it has
not been proposed.  The policy that has been proposed takes pains to
express as much information about the ASN distinction as possible.  It
defines all terms that may be unfamiliar to someone who hasn't yet learned
how BGP works.  So in my opinion it is unnecessary to make such a change
to Geoff's proposal.

The SEC Plain English handbook you cited states that "a common
misconception about plain English writing" is that it means "deleting
complex information to make the document easier to understand."  I would
argue that by deleting references to the number of bytes used to hold an
ASN, you are deleting complex information to make the document easier to


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