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Design Principles Premise

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 06:37:14 -0500
Message-ID: <1c8dbcaa0708190437u3eaffed0o73e23c99099b0e8d@mail.gmail.com>
To: "public-html WG" <public-html@w3.org>

In conformance with the instructions on the questionnaire
"Any novel supporting arguments should be sent to public-html@w3.org
for discussion and then cited in the comments field. (Of course, if
you already sent your argument, just cite it.)"

Principles are fundamental values guides used to base decisions. DanC
has said, "their main utility is as justification in discussions. if
they don't work that way, they should be dropped" [1].

The premise of the principles is flawed. It says in the current
document that, "They are pragmatic rules of thumb that must be
balanced against each other, not absolutes."  Some of the current
principles serve only to confuse discourse because of they are an
ambiguous balancing act. For example, like Bob Hopgood points out in
one of his survey responses, some of the principles start by saying
'should' and then are immediately follow with another paragraph saying
it cannot be achieved. Many terms are too subjective*.  I question if
they can be applied in a fair and consistent manner.

An indecisive principle will not be an aid to decision making but only
worsen the discourse. Doublespeak often results in communication

The introduction to the design principles document, needs changing to
clearly state that these principles are fundamental values guides used
to base decisions. Their main utility is as justification in

Best Regards,

[1] http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/html-wg/20070817#l-43
* Some examples of subjective principles:
 - Do not Reinvent the Wheel - This principle is ambiguous. "Widely
used" is a subjective term. How can this principle be applied fair and
consistent manner? I agree with Andrew Fedoniouk that the principle
depends on the quality of the wheel. And that is subjective.
 - Solve Real Problems - The definition of a "real problem" is
subjective. It will only cause miscommunication.
- Avoid Needless Complexity -  I'm not arguing for needless complexity
:-) But term "Needless Complexity" is too subjective. The whole
id/headers debate come to mind. Like Dean Edridge has said in his
response people will not agree on what complexities are needed and
what's not needed. I doubt if it can be used as a main utility for
justification for decisions.
Received on Sunday, 19 August 2007 11:37:35 UTC

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