[28 June 2010]
Many people have been influenced by what is often called Postel’s Law, usually quoted as saying “Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you accept”.
In a room with a whiteboard, however, the only workable rule is: when you find a marker that no longer writes, do not be liberal in what you accept, and do not put it back where you got it. Throw it away. Otherwise, every whiteboard you run into will soon have twenty-odd markers, some of which actually work, if you can find them, but most of them duds.
Cleaning up as you go is a good principle in cooking, and in managing the set of white-board markers. It’s also a good idea in data management; it’s a shame so many people misread Postel’s Law to mean the opposite.