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Re: Formal Recorded Complaint

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:34:41 -0700
Cc: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, steve@w3.org, timbl@w3.org, jbrewer@w3.org, 'wai-ig list' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org, public-html@w3.org, www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <B3F1791C-45ED-44F5-ACFC-DD25B8F0C1DC@apple.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>


On Jul 30, 2007, at 1:21 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> On Jul 30, 2007, at 12:28 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
>>> The first thing I would like to point out is that I've seen nobody  
>>> questioning the competence of anybody who has participated this  
>>> working group.  Nor are we talking about classing 'troll' behavior  
>>> here.  We are talking about people who have value to contribute,  
>>> but seem entirely unable to disagree without being disagreeable.   
>>> Putting forward a counter argument isn't sufficient for such  
>>> people, they seem compelled to do so in a manner that shames the  
>>> person who advanced the other point of view into silence.
>> While the issue you raise can certainly be a problem, the RFCs you  
>> linked are not designed to deal with overly heated but valid and on- 
>> topic discussion. They are designed to deal with outright trolling,  
>> and the means to address it is banishment from the group. Quoting  
>> from RFC 3683:
>
> permanent banishment from the group should never be the first  
> recourse.
>
>> "Notably, in a small number of cases, a participant has engaged in  
>> what amounts to a 'denial-of-service' attack to disrupt the  
>> consensus-driven process. Typically, these attacks are made by  
>> repeatedly posting messages that are off-topic, inflammatory, or  
>> otherwise counter-productive. In contrast, good faith disagreement  
>> is a healthy part of the consensus-driven process.
>> For example, if a working group is unable to reach consensus, this  
>> is an acceptable, albeit unfortunate, outcome; however, if that  
>> working group fails to achieve consensus because it is being  
>> continuously disrupted, then the disruption constitutes an abuse of  
>> the consensus-driven process. Interactions of this type are  
>> fundamentally different from 'the lone voice of dissent' in which a  
>> participant expresses a view that is discussed but does not achieve  
>> consensus. In other words, individual bad faith should not trump  
>> community goodwill."
>
> Compare that last paragraph to the email posted by John Foliot on  
> this very subject not ten minutes before yours.
>
> What we have is not a 'lone voice of dissent'.  What we have is a  
> consistent and persistent pattern of abuse of the consensus-driven  
> process.

Actually, that paragraph is saying the 'lone voice of dissent' is the  
bad case, whereas an ongoing failure of different significant  
constituencies to achieve consensus is unfortunate but acceptable. And  
that's what I am seeing here. We have significant groups that disagree  
on the best way to approach the design of accessibility features.

It's important to keep in mind that when people disagree, there are  
often different perceptions on different sides of the argument,  
especially in media like email and IRC that don't convey emotional  
cues very well. What you see as process abuse, others may see as  
vigorous discussion that ultimately leads to a better spec. Similarly,  
sometimes individuals may perceive a conversation as a series of  
unwarranted personal attacks on them, where others may see that  
individuals remarks as trolling or needlessly disruptive.

The first recourse in a dispute, ideally, should be for the parties to  
talk directly to each other. Especially if the event that upset you  
happened in a non-interactive medium or at a time when you were not  
present. I hope we all consider this option before kicking problems  
upstairs.

And if that step doesn't work, then I think privately asking the  
chairs for mediation would be a good next step. Broadly general and  
widely cross-posted complaints are not as likely to make the group's  
work flow more smoothly. On the contrary, they may make disputing  
parties feel more defensive and dug into their positions.

Let's try these kinds of approaches before we even bring up the idea  
of a process for kicking people out. The responsibility for making  
this group effective lies with all of us.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Monday, 30 July 2007 21:35:23 GMT

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