W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > December 2007

Re: Dissatisfaction with HTML WG

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2007 18:42:35 +0100
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.t3yd49ckwxe0ny@widsith.local>

Hi Dean,

On Mon, 24 Dec 2007 17:21:46 +0100, Dean Edridge <dean@55.co.nz> wrote:

> It's unfortunate that I'm forced to bring this up in public, but since I  
> have already expressed my concerns regarding this group privately with:  
> Ian Hickson, Anne van Kesteren, Lachlan Hunt, Mike Smith, Chris Wilson  
> and Dan Connolly, but with no success and no change in attitude, I  
> obviously need to mention them again here. I've also made formal  
> complaints with Mike Smith, Chris Wilson and Dan Connolly regarding the  
> openness and process of this group but those have not been acted on. I  
> have no option but to make my concerns publicly known.

Hi Dean, all.

I'm Opera's Chief Standards Officer - silly title but it means that blame  
for whatever people do in Opera's name in standards ends up on my desk. If  
you have concerns about particular people from Opera or their actions,  
feel free to direct them to me directly...

> General concerns regarding the HTML WG and (X)HTML5
> I'm disappointed to see a lot of anti-XHTML sentiment within the group

Me too, but not nearly as disapointed as I have been for some years at the  
failure of Microsoft to accept XHTML in IE, leading to a growth of  
anti-XHTML sentiment in various parts of the Web development community. I  
think that this group's composition merely reflects the frustration of the  
general community.

> I don't think that the working group and specification is being run in  
> an objective, democratic and non-biased manner. For example:
> HTML5 Editor: Ian Hickson (Google)
> HTML5 Editors assistant: David Hyatt (Apple)
> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Anne van Kesteren (Opera software)
> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Maciej Stachowiak (Apple)
> HTMLWG staff contact: Mike Smith (ex Opera software)
> HTMLWG co-chair: Chris Wilson (Microsoft) (Nice guy, but he did put his  
> name on the first XHTML spec 8 years ago, then prevented over 6 Billion  
> people from being able to use it.)

Ian is ex-Opera and ex-Netscape, Dave is ex-Mozilla, Mike is also  
ex-Openwave. So another way of looking at things is that there is a pretty  
broad representation of experience from a wide range of browsers at least.

> HTML5 (not so democratic or balanced) author guidelines: Lachlan Hunt  
> (Opera software) Deliberately published his guide with the W3C logo even  
> though that day there had been several objections to his loose choice of  
> formatting within the public-html mailing list.

Lachlan published a *draft*. I have spent a decade working on stuff at  
W3C, and Lachlan had spent a few months - there are things taht take time  
to learn about Process, and he is learning. There is also a process of  
publishing drafts and revising them, which was designed and is continually  
refined to permit the production of a worthwhile specification. It is the  
responsibility of the chairs and staff contact to see that this comes to  
fruition, and of those who contribute to the group to assist in that  

(I also think your comment here is an unwarranted and inappropriate insult  
to Lachlan. He put together a first draft, he published it with his  
preference for examples, and he is well aware that this is subject to  
group approval before anything is more than a draft. Without a formal  
decision of the group, it seems reasonable for him to choose a legal  
syntax in the interim.)

> The HTMLWG is becoming less and less democratic everyday. It has become  
> a dictatorship driven by three companies: Google, Apple and Opera. These  
> companies have there own interest at heart which may or may not be in  
> the best interest of the open web. Unless one happens to be an employee  
> (or a friend of an employee) of these companies, one doesn't seem to  
> have much say in the way that HTML5 and XHTML5 gets developed.

That strikes me as rubbish. Ben Millard, Lara Carlson and others have made  
contributions that have been very valuable, despite not being friends of  
the editors nor even of their respective employers.

> I have witnessed on many occasions people outside of these  
> organisations/companies have not had their ideas taken seriously or  
> added to the spec. I can think of Sam Ruby, Karl Dubost and myself just  
> to name a few people that have not only had their ideas knocked down but  
> have been personally mocked, ridiculed and attacked by Ian Hickson & Co  
> on the IRC channels just because the ideas or decisions they made did  
> not suit Ian and his group.

Sure. I have from time to time ridiculed ideas or features in drafts or  
proposals myself, sometimes in an excessively dismissive way.  
Unfortunately we're not perfect human beings.

That said, it is true that the HTML WG has been at times quite adversarial  
and people have felt unable to contribute, which is a management problem.  
To some extent that is being addressed, but there is progress that needs  
to be made still. In particular, the complaints I have fielded relate to  
people whose level of english, combined with the responsibilities of the  
rest of their job, do not permit them to even follow some discussions,  
which will condemn us to go over some things several times.

> I don't see what the point is in having 1000 or more people involved in  
> this work if only one person is in control of what gets added to the  
> spec?

There is none. But that isn't the case, either. Ian is not a latter-day  
Messiah saving the Web, he is a person who is contributing his work (on  
behalf of his employer) to edit a spec on behalf of a group. The group is  
still finding its way through a process that allows 1000 people to  
collaborate in a useful way to develop a useful spec, and Ian has his own  
views on that process.

> The W3C staff members don't seem to be interested in defending the open  
> web given that I have made official complaints regarding Ian Hickson and  
> his sponsors, but yet had no active response from the W3C. If the W3C  
> can't stand up to this renegade group then what's the point of having  
> the W3C? It seems that anyone can hijack the web and dictate to the  
> world so long as they have enough money.

You may be missing some signals. I have had various exchanges with the  
people I am responsible for in the group, the chairs and staff contacts,  
and others. I think things have improved. I think they need to improve  
further. I expect this to happen.

I think concrete proposals or clear explanations of problems are helpful  
to that improvement, but I believe that mixing insults in is detrimental  
to such proposals.

> If the way things are done in this group doesn't change to a more  
> democratic model I'll be suggesting to the chairs that Ian Hickson be  
> replaced as Editor of the spec with someone more professional and  
> independent.
> In the mean time I hereby ask that the HTML WG chairs engage the  
> services of another person who is not an employee of Google, Opera  
> software, Apple/Webkit or Mozilla to be another co Editor and watch Ian  
> to see if he is taking everyone's ideas/concerns in to account and not  
> blocking democracy with his own personal views/ideals.

Editors volunteer to take on the work. If you want another editor (Dave is  
listed because the chairs asked for volunteers...) then you need a more  
concrete proposal, with an actual name if your request isn't simply  
intended as a request to stop work.

Opera volunteers its resources to develop various specifications (the HTML  
WG is just one among many in W3C) and I expect the W3C process to be  
followed in order to produce a high-quality spec that becomes, by wide  
adoption, a real standard. Naturally we have priorities, and obviously  
they are not the same as Apple, Microsoft, or maybe anyone else, although  
they overlap. Likewise other companies make the investment in something  
that doesn't necessarily turn out the way they want, because there is  
still benefit to them in having a standard. I would of course be very  
happy to see more resources coming from a wider group of contributors. But  
we work with teh material at hand.



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Wednesday, 26 December 2007 17:43:41 UTC

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