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Re: Doctypes and the dialects of HTML 5

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 17:29:13 +1000
Message-ID: <46077649.9070504@lachy.id.au>
To: Mike Schinkel <mikeschinkel@gmail.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org

Mike Schinkel wrote:
> Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>> Without knowing and understand the problem and use cases to be 
>> solved, a successful solution cannot be developed; and a solution 
>> looking for a problem isn't really a solution at all.
> 
> While your reply was actually very helpful to me, I'd like to bring 
> up a point. The approach you describe is evidently a good and proper 
> approach taken by very seasoned standards professionals.
> 
> However, my understanding was that the W3C wanted to open this up to 
> people using HTML in the real world in order to get better 
> perspective on issues. The approach of requiring a well defined 
> use-case prior to discussion very much discourages brainstorming.

It doesn't require the use case to be extremely well defined before 
discussion can take place, just that the discussion begin by focussing 
on the use cases and/or problems before people start prematurely 
brainstorming solutions.

A good idea could start with a post as simple as "Hey, look at what 
these sites are doing, wouldn't it be great if there were an easier 
way?"  (Of course, a link to the actual sites and description of whey 
they do wouldn't go astray).  That provides us with a use case and we 
can take a look to see if there is a problem.

In many cases, it's likely to turn out that we've already developed a 
solution for it that you may not have been aware of, but it still might 
reveal a limitation with the solution we do have.  And even if it 
doesn't, you (and possibly others) have learned something new and so it 
turns out to be productive either way.

> I believe that if you attack every idea with a rigid methodology even 
> before is can be discussed it will have a chilling  effect on 
> discussion and it will stifle innovation.

It's not about attacking ideas or stifling innovation, it's about being 
productive and questioning ideas to determine their worth.  There is no 
point wasting time debating frivolous details about solutions, if 
there's no real problem or use case to solve.

> On the other hand, if I misunderstood the intent of the W3C opening 
> up the debate to "ordinary web developers" then forgive me for 
> misunderstanding.

The aim is to avoid working behind closed doors and be able to get 
contributions from a wider community.  But we should still expect 
contributors to the mailing list to either have an understanding of the 
process, or be willing to learn the process and accept constructive 
criticism.

In a separate response, Mike also wrote:
> My reply however was addressing the tone of response that informs 
> newer people that their input is not appreciated unless it is in 
> strict adherence.

The tone of my response wasn't meant to suggest that input from newer 
people isn't appreciated, just that those with less experience have some 
things to learn.

> I believe this will stifle involvement of people who can contribute
> greatly to innovation but who probably won't continue to contribute 
> if their receive dismissive responses in exchange for their 
> participation.

The reality is that many ideas will get rejected for a variety of 
reasons; some quicker than others.  In practice, this isn't a problem. 
In fact, it's a very good thing.  Any idea that can't stand up to a 
little bit of questioning really isn't worth spending much time on.

The ideas that tend to get dismissed quickly (even if the debate seems 
to go on endlessly) are those that have either already been debated and 
solved many times before, or those presenting solutions without problems.

For instance, the threads about versioning and abbr vs. acronym are 
mostly rehashing old arguments that many of us have been through before. 
  I guarantee that you can search the archives of www-html and the 
whatwg list and you will find the same topics come up over and over 
again, with essentially the same arguments each time.  (Oddly enough, 
the abbr vs. acronym debate started up again on www-html shortly after 
it started here, so you won't need look far)

-- 
Lachlan Hunt
http://lachy.id.au/
Received on Monday, 26 March 2007 07:29:12 GMT

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