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Re: WG comments, Working Drafts, and Last Call -- clarification please?

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 12:28:13 -0700
Cc: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>, HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <2C9940DD-6764-4C21-A8F2-1F408B7B55AC@apple.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>

On Aug 6, 2009, at 12:11 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> Here's my understanding:
>> - By Last Call, a Working Group is expected to have resolved all  
>> serious issues within the Working Group. In practice this doesn't  
>> always happen.
> Perhaps not... in other groups.  It is not my intent to let that  
> happen in this group.

And that is a worthy goal!

>> - There is no general rule against a Working Group member  
>> commenting on the spec during Last Call.
>> - It would be out of order for a Working Group member to attempt to  
>> reopen an issue that has been resolved by actual Working Group  
>> decision, if they don't have new information to provide. Not  
>> because it's Last Call, but because WG decisions can only be  
>> reopened based on new information.
>> - Last Call is an appropriate time to register Formal Objections,  
>> even from WG members. Technically, Formal Objections don't even  
>> really mean anything before LC.
> You can have formal objections to any decision.  As an example,  
> hopefully soon there will be a decision to publish a Working Draft.   
> But lets not lose site of Dan's point: a Formal Objection by a  
> Working Group member on that decision would be out of order unless  
> it was based on something like new information.

Fair enough, a Formal Objection to a decision should be made in a  
timely manner. However, since an FO can only really be to a decision,  
if a matter was not formally decided then commenting on it would not  
be out of order. Thus:

> Items discussed, not raised as Issue => Formal Objection
>  out of order

I think in such a case it's reasonable to raise a comment, but  
inappropriate to raise a Formal Objection. A Last Call comment isn't  
automatically a Formal Objection. Technically a Formal Objection can  
only be made against a WG decision, so if something has not actually  
been decided, it is out of order to raise an FO. Only once the comment  
has been reviewed by the Working Group and a decision has been issued  
is it appropriate to Formally Object.

But setting aside the process arcana, I think the bottom line is this:

Working Groups are supposed to work out issues amongst their members  
before going to Last Call. The point of Last Call is to announce this  
to the world, and thereby solicit broader feedback. If Working Group  
members are raising a lot of serious substantive issues during Last  
Call, the process has failed. But this doesn't mean a member is  
required to be completely silent and toe the party line. I think you,  
Dan and I probably agree on the basic principles here, but Dan's way  
of putting it may have given the impression that Last Call somehow  
silences Working Group members. I don't think that is the case, and I  
don't think we should send that impression.

I should also add that quitting a Working Group in order to reopen  
closed issues as an outside commenter would be bad faith behavior, and  
I doubt either the WG or the Director would be favorably disposed to  
objections raised in such a fashion. I don't think anyone seriously  
wants to do that, but let's be clear that we're better off working  
within the process, and there is no actual need to game the system in  
weird ways.

Received on Thursday, 6 August 2009 19:29:08 UTC

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