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Formally Object to Referencing WhatWG within the W3C HTML5 specification

From: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 2010 13:53:40 -0500
Message-ID: <4C0E91B4.20206@burningbird.net>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org
There's an active thread in the HTML WG email list about including a 
reference to the WhatWG HTML effort[1].

The W3C is a legal entity, while the WhatWG is not. The W3C has a patent 
policy, while the WhatWG does not. The WhatWG is nothing more than an 
informal group of people contributing to the current HTML5 effort. As 
such, it is inappropriate for the W3C specifications to reference the 
WhatWG effort. For one, as noted in the HTML WG thread, the effort at 
the WhatWG differs from the effort at the W3C and for the W3C to 
seemingly condone such differences will cause confusion within the web 
communities. For another, there's an implication that User Agents will 
implement both the WhatWG and W3C specifications, which is most likely 
not true because of legal issues, such as lack of patent policy and 
legal entity status of the WhatWG.

Consider the following, in the W3C HTML5 specification status[2]:

"The contents of this specification are also part of a specification 
published by the WHATWG, which is available under a license that permits 
reuse of the specification text."

Though I'm not a lawyer, at a minimum, this causes confusion about the 
legalities of use of the material: who exactly does have legal control 
over the material?

Regardless of legal issues to do with the WhatWG, the W3C has put off 
the issue of this problematic "shadow" specification for far too long. I 
formally object to any published HTML5 specification--including the 
upcoming heartbeat publication of the HTML5 Working Draft--referencing 
the WhatWG documents and email lists. Removing this material will have 
no impact on whatever work continues to happen in the WhatWG, but should 
prevent confusion about W3C support.

As for the charter wording about working for convergence with the WhatWG 
effort [3], removing references to the WhatWG version of email lists and 
specifications does not preclude both groups from working together. 
Listing the WhatWG effort in the acknowledgments should be sufficient.

Shelley Powers

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jun/0189.html
[2] http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/#status-of-this-document
[3] http://www.w3.org/2007/03/HTML-WG-charter.html#conformance
Received on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 19:52:32 GMT

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