Been dealing a little lately with the issue of standards. On one hand I recognize some standards as important and their existence has problably been a critical success factor for free and open source software. POSIX, PNG, Window Manager specification, UTF8, SVG, XML and various hardware standards come to mind as some examples.
The problem with standards is that the standarisation process often brings with it stagnation or that the standard advocates horrible solutions (the horrible solution was the compromise between two good solutions for instance). I think Solaris is an example of how letting yourself get locked down into a gigantic pile of standards and ABI promises in the end becomes more of a problem than a help. Sure if you ask people if ABI stability is important to them they will say yes, but in the end developers tend to value feature additions and improvements in the library they are depending on even more than ABI stability. And the same is true for standards, while everyone would say that being standards compliant is good, they would still choose to use something else if it provides a better experience.
Of course the worst kind of standards is when you create technical workarounds for the lack of standards and then ask people to standarize on those. Been a couple of examples of such I seen recently.
I don’t know how to do good and needed standards while not creating a standards bog, all I know is that I think standards isn’t the solution to all of the worlds problems.