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Re: Deciding in public (Was: SVGWG SVG-in-HTML proposal)

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 22:05:00 -0400
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OFCCA676FE.FCA26B79-ON85257498.0007B9D8-85257498.000B71E1@us.ibm.com>
Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch> wrote on 07/31/2008 08:41:54 PM:

> On Thu, 31 Jul 2008, Sam Ruby wrote:
> > >
> > > The above e-mail, as well as the blog post to which it refers, both
> > > formed part of the great wealth of information that went into the
> > > design that currently exists in the HTML5 spec (partially commented
> > > out)
> >
> > So am I correct in assuming that that post contained new information?
> I do not believe the post in question contained significant information
> that had not been considered long before it was posted, no.
> > In two days, it will be a year from the date of that post. And it is
> > still the case that every element must be personally approved by you in

> > order to be valid in HTML5.
> Again, while I would love to be able to claim that I had any kind of
> actual authority here, that simply isn't the case.
> But nothwithsanding that, it's a *good* thing that we need wide review
> serious thought before we extend the language that the Web is based on.
> When we don't have peer review and so forth, we end up with things like
> <marquee> or <blink>.

And <canvas>.

This is another example of painting things as black and white.  I
anticipated this a year ago.  My response both then and now is as follows:

Sturgeon’s law still applies.  90% of all namespaces are crap.  This
proposal doesn’t change that.  Put your faith in Darwin.  Something in 10%
of the remaining 10% will knock your socks off.

> If the request is for a mechanism for arbitrarily extending text/html's
> vocabulary without having to go through a standards body, then I hope we
> never reach that point. The Web is too valuable.
> I've said this before, for example search for "willy nilly" in:
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Apr/0205.html

"willy nilly" is another example of painting an issue in terms of black and

> ...where I detailed the reasoning for this.
> (You've responded to this saying you disagree, but that you think that
> having XHTML5 and XML which can be used with XML namespaces to extend the

> language without discussion, effectively mitigates the issue.)

Mitigates?  Yes.  But not in a means that is widely accessible.  My site is
one of the very tiny minority of sites that can take advantage of that.
And at a cost of a loss of function (e.g. document.write).  I forego
revenue from Google AdSense because of this limitation.

> > > What could I change in the way I respond to issues to make you feel
> > > like your suggestion has been seriously considered, as it indeed has?
> >
> > If you are serious in asking that question, my answer is that perhaps
> > you should consider toning down the sarcasm. And consider being a bit
> > less dismissive of others.  Not just me, but others in general.
> Ok, I'll try to be less dismissive. Could you answer some of the
> I asked?
> e.g. in:
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Jul/0453.html

> ...the following questions:
> | So anyway, as editor, I now have a choice: either I ignore the evidence

> | that namespace prefixes are confusing to authors, or I don't use your
> | proposal in its entirety. What should I have done?
> | Given that proposals equivalent to this one had been considered long
> | before, why should your proposal change anything?
> ...or in:
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Jul/0430.html

> ...the questions "How should such accomodation happen?", "How can anyone
> know?", "Is that unreasonable?", "How can we make it more obvious?" (I
> would quote the context, but that would basically just be quoting the
> entire e-mail).

I would suggest treating questions that come up again and again as a bug
report.  The bug in question in this case is the lack of supporting
documentation or rationale for the document.  Or more directly: the reason
questions come up again and again is a direct consequence of the way this
work group is being run.  That might be OK -- it is a tradeoff.  Spending
time documenting things that never end up being asked again is a waste of
time.  But if that is the consious choice, then accepting the consequence
(i.e., repeated questions) would seem to be in order.

Indirectly, this is another example of being dismissive.  It sends out the
clear message that "you are wasting my time", and "I don't need to explain
myself to you".

> ...or in:
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Jul/0404.html

> ...the entire e-mail.

I only see one question.  Suffice it to say that as long as the answer
works out that there is no mechanism by which independent parties can
define new elements, I will never be satisfied.  That might be OK -- you
can't please everyone.  But in this case, creating a spec that outlaws such
extensions will have the same long term effect that Prohibition had in the
US.  It is clear that Microsoft will implement something in this area.  To
the extent that such is adopted by content producers, other browser vendors
will be forced to respond.  You can help to channel this.  Or not.

> Or in:
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Jul/0371.html

> ...the question "Are there any proposals that show indirection
> syntax can be designed in a manner that doesn't have the problems that
> other prefix-based proposals have had?"

I would be a fool to say that indirection syntaxes don't have problems.
The only thing that would be a bigger mistake would be to not build in a
mechanism for distributed extensibility.

> I've been *trying* to not be dismissive. Please allow me to ask _you_ a
> favour as well: could you reply to the questions I ask? So far, it seems
> like you only reply to the parts of the e-mails I write that are in the
> slightest bit inflamatory, and ignore all the potentially constructive
> questions.

This email was fine.  I did not have an interest in responding to the other
portions of the other emails when it seemed likely that I would simply be
blown off.

I will, however, note that any mention of mechanism of distributed
extensibility or improved namespace support in my email was elided from
your response.

I was convinced a year ago, and remain convinced now, that you are entirely
unwilling to entertain a civil discussion of providing a limited mechanism
by which third parties can define vocabularies involving new elements.  And
that you will go to extreme lengths to preventing such a discussion -- be
it omitting the point from your replies, or painting the issue in stark
black and white terms like "willy nilly", or being either sarcastic or
downright dismissive (or both!) of anybody who might have the temerity to
ask such questions.

> --
> Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
> http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
> Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

- Sam Ruby
Received on Friday, 1 August 2008 02:05:49 UTC

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