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W3C tools Re: Named & Numbered Issues was: Leading ... IRC

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 01:45:57 +0200
To: "John Joseph Bachir" <jjb@ibiblio.org>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.tprqyvofwxe0ny@widsith.local>

On Mon, 26 Mar 2007 01:16:08 +0200, John Joseph Bachir <jjb@ibiblio.org> wrote:

> On Sun, 25 Mar 2007, Mike Schinkel wrote:
>
>> ... or someone else be appointed to identify and manage a list of
>> issues. This would allos discussions on identified issues would need to
>> have those issue name/numbers in the subject...
>
> Sounds an awful lot like a web forum. If the list is going to be so
> overwhelmingly busy, with segmented (in a good way) sub-discussions, then
> a web forum would be very appropriate. However I think trying to recreate
> that structure on the email list will prove unwieldy and inefficient. For
> example, consider the turnaround time required to suggest and create a new
> numbered issue.

W3C has some useful tools that work with mailing lists and IRC, and which it is worth learning about.

For this case, the one that rocks is Tracker/trackbot - created by Dean Jackson. It allows creating an issue with a name, to which it gives a number. It reads the mailing list, and any time it sees ISSUE-123 then the archived version of that email is added to the list of emails on the topic. If you invite trackbot to the IRC channel, it also notes where in the minutes ISSUE-123 was discussed.

(It does the same thing with action items, so you can track them. And you can see it at work for the WebAPI group at http://www.w3.org/2006/webapi/track/ which I recommend for members of this group).

There is a specific tool that can track last call issues, which works in a similar way.

For IRC, there is RRSAgent, which makes a log, and can edit it in various useful ways to make legible minutes with a table of contents and so on (read the help, which you can get by saying "RRSAgent, help" in the channel). There is also, for teleconferences, zakim. It's most useful functions are to mute people, to manage an agenda, and best of all to manage a speaking queue. Instead of all butting in, forgetting what you wanted to say, etc, you have a handful of extremely useful commands:

"q+" and "q-" will add you to or remove you from the queue
"q+ to blah blah blah" will add you to the queue and remember "blah blah blah" for you when it is your turn to speak.
"ack NAME" will pop NAME (or the first name that matches /NAME/ to make life easier for people with long nicknames) and if there is something remembered, will say "NAME, you wanted to blah bla blah" into the channel (so you can think about other things while waiting your turn to speak).
"/me sees NAMEs hand up" will add NAME to the queue.

There are also touch-tone commands to add or remove yourself, mute yourself, and so on, for people who are on the phone but not following IRC.

There is more information about this on the web, of course. But the basic point is that W3C has built a lot of tools designed to make it as easy as possible to work in a distributed way. They are designed to integrate with mail and IRC, the tools that are available pretty much everywhere (I have happily used them from mobile phones...) and taking a little time to learn how they work is very worthwhile.

And if you don't like them, W3C produces its software under an open-source license based on the BSD license, so you can make a private version or just submit patches.

(The one tool W3C doesn't have is a chumpbot - something that makes tracking a handful of useful links in an IRC channel really nice. Since nobody can be awake all day every day, having the daily chump of the IRC log is also useful, IMHO).

cheers

Chaals

-- 
  Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
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Received on Sunday, 25 March 2007 23:46:02 GMT

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