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Poll on technical substance rather than procedural mechanism

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Sat, 1 Aug 2009 10:12:50 -0700
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8B62A039C620904E92F1233570534C9B0118D824F99A@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>
Either issuing a new working draft is procedural
or substantive; it's either a pro-forma "must do"
that has no particular meaning other than a ritual
working groups go through, or it represents some
amount of judgment by the working group as to the
maturity of the documents in question and their
agreement that the documents represent -- better --
their overall belief as to what the spec should say.
The expectation is that normally the publication
of a new Working Draft represents substantive technical
progress, and the "heartbeat" requirement there
not as some ritual hoop to jump through, but to 
insure that working groups are actually making 
progress toward technical agreement.  Otherwise,
groups that are making *no* progress could continue
to issue random variations of their documents
without actually discussing and coming to agreement
on the issues before them.

However, I don't want to debate the W3C process
document and interpretations of it, but just ask 
additional informative data. Sam suggested the poll
be restricted to:

>  1) Publish Ian's draft as is, along with the HTML 5 differences
>     from HTML 4. [SR]
>  3) Publish Ian's draft, the HTML 5 differences from HTML 4, and
>     Mike's draft. [LM, JF1]
>  4) Instruct Mike Smith to work with Ian to incorporate [text to
>     be provided by John Foliot] into Ian's draft [JF2]

But these are all procedural questions. People
may have different opinions about the procedural
issue or the nature of the "heartbeat" requirement
that I discussed above, and the proposed poll as stated
obscures individual technical opinion from the 
procedural one.

If there is going to be a poll, why not ALSO ask
about technical assessment of document content and
the  substantive questions which have been raised
and not resolved?

** "Comparing Ian's current editor's draft to the previous
   public Working Draft published by this working group...."

while a Yes or No would be sufficient, a scale
would be better, e.g., 

 1. Strongly agree 2. agree 3. neutral, unsure
 4. disagree 5. strongly disagree

Main question:
  "Overall, the editor's draft is an improvement
   to the previous public Working Draft"

Additional questions related to this might include
asking the working group members and other mailing
list subscribers to rank these statements:

a) "My assessment would increase if the text from
   John Follett on table@summary were included"

b) "My assessment would increase if the inclusion of
   specifications overlapping the IETF vCard specification
  were removed"

c) " My assessment would increase if the text discussing
    the desirability of a common video codec were restored"

d) "My assessment would increase if material on microdata
   were removed"

e) "my assessement would increase if material on 
  integration of RDFa were included."

.... and perhaps other questions relating to issues for
which working group consensus has been elusive.

This would be a "straw poll" from which consensus
on technical judgment rather than procedural issues
could be judged.

The poll on technical assessment of the documents
in question can be decoupled from the procedural
decision of whether the document is, in fact, published
in order to meet the W3C heartbeat process requirement.

When announcing the availability of a new
Working Draft, it is typical in most W3C working
groups that a new public draft after several months
represents an improvement in working group approval.

If it is clear that there is considerable disagreement
about whether the new Working Draft is an improvement 
from the  previous editor's draft, then even if there
is a majority of members polled who favor publication
the facts around the ovarall technical assessment
and any substantive disagreements could reasonably
be expected to be part of the announcement.

On the poll itself, I'd need to review the document
and the issues again, but I think I would "strongly 
disagree" with the main question and either Agree
or Strongly Agree with most of the rest (I'd need
to work on it a bit) except for (e) for which I think 
my vote would be "neutral".

Regards,

Larry
-- 
http://larry.masinter.net
Received on Saturday, 1 August 2009 17:13:38 UTC

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