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Re: How to productively contribute

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2007 16:32:44 -0500
Message-Id: <59320A49-1C41-4D15-B107-F0996BD611E0@robburns.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>


On Jun 27, 2007, at 3:53 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:

>
> On Wed, 27 Jun 2007, Robert Burns wrote:
>>
>> Again, this is the catch 22.  Each of us raising our concerns here  
>> are
>> not getting responses that could even begin to serve as the other  
>> side
>> of the argument so that we can write wiki articles that actually  
>> record
>> "the points put forward by both sides". In other words we're not  
>> getting
>> the other side from this discussion
>
> There shouldn't be "sides".  [...]

In your message you suggested when writing to the wiki be sure we're  
"recording the points put forward by both <em>sides</em> in a neutral  
fashion". Now you say there shouldn't be "sides". How are we to  
interpret that?

>  You shouldn't be so
> attached to an idea that you can't think of other ideas, or so  
> attached to
> an idea that you can't see its disadvantages. You shouldn't need  
> someone
> else presenting another "side" of the "argument" to address an issue.

This might just be my own deficiency then, but in the issues I've  
been advocating on, I am having a hard time imagining the objections  
when no one clearly explains the objection. By extension wouldn't  
this mean that this entire WG exercise is unnecessary. The draft  
editors will already anticipate our proposals before we make them.

In any event, when we advocate for adding a new attribute or element  
(or retaining an element or attribute from 4.01) as an author  
conforming / best practice part of the language that is not a part of  
the current draft, should we simply try to list the disadvantages as  
we see it (sometimes a null list) and not try to understand or  
imagine the reasons for deprecating those features? Would it be  
acceptable to just cite the draft as the opposing side approach? How  
would the editors respond to such a wiki article?

My presumption has been that when facilities of HTML 4.01 have been  
dropped that there's a new best practice approach that will be  
promoted for authors. If this is the case, I would expect my advocacy  
for things such as retaining @summary attribute might not be  
appropriate. However, as a member of the WG I would think there would  
be some way for me to learn what the alternative to @summary would be  
(in other words an attribute or element for describing a table in a  
way that only someone with a visual impairment would benefit from;  
after all, some tables speak for themselves visually which is why a  
table might be selected for its rhetorical effect).

> In any case, if it turns out that you indeed are so blinded by you
> opinions that you can't do an objective job, I'm sure other people  
> in the
> working group will balance out the wiki page for that set of use  
> cases and
> it'll be neutral in the end. So just pretend you're neutral and go  
> ahead.

I do not think anyone sincerely bringing up issues on the email list  
(in order to begin to understand the thinking that went into the  
current draft) should be accused of being "blinded by your opinions".  
If anything the willingness to engage others in conversation and try  
to understand the other viewpoints is a necessary precondition to  
being objective. To state it another way: being blinded by ones  
objectivity would be to imagine that no one else in the conversation  
could possibly provide constructive information to inform one's own  
views.

> (Though if you think there might be a chance you haven't been able to
> become objective enough, then make a note of that on the wiki page.)
>
> [.. ]

Those are useful guidelines. However, you're using the term  
"objective" in a way I've never heard before. Perhaps you could say  
more about how you understand the term. For example, I would imagine  
for any assessment of needs for the HTML5 language there could be  
several alternative approaches to address it: each with its own  
advantages and disadvantages. There will not be a simple or sole  
answer that addresses any identified need. To me being objective  
requires acknowledging this and then understanding that each of us  
will have a different assessment of any of these proposals. As an  
example, I have suggested that HTML5 add a <picture> element or  
something like that which parallels the other newly added embedded  
content elements, but particularly for still picture images. This  
would mean that in a distant future an author using HTML5 or its  
successor could have easily and simply embed a still image into a  
document and still have a smple fallback content approach as with  
<audio> and <video>. Bets practice would be to use <picture> instead  
of <ig> when the targeted browsers all provided support for  
<picture>. Others have objected, but not with any clear arguments  
(e.g., instead insisting that my needs assessment and solution for  
those needs were not what they envisioned). My hope is that I could  
clearly understand the objection of others before I write a wiki page  
on this issue. Would you say I'm too blinded by my own point-of-view  
because I'm asking others to explain why still images should not be  
treated in a similar fashion to <video> and <audio>?  I would say I  
am being objective because I sincerely want to understand what these  
objections might be (to contribute to the wiki page).

I hope I'm not coming across as just being difficult. I honestly want  
to understand how you're using the term "objective" and respond  
accordingly as well as how the WG process is supposed to work.

Take care,
Rob
Received on Wednesday, 27 June 2007 21:32:53 GMT

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