W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > January 2009

Openness creating deliverables that tend to reflect the views of the WG

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 15:18:47 -0600
Cc: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, public-html <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <DEB9F7D3-3D5D-47AF-AC54-7BCAB581E6F3@robburns.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>

Hi Jonas,

On Jan 30, 2009, at 1:34 PM, Jonas Sicking wrote:

>
> On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 11:14 AM, Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>  
> wrote:
>>
>> Hi Henri,
>>
>> On Jan 30, 2009, at 11:13 AM, Henri Sivonen wrote:
>>>
>>> Thank you for sharing this with the WG. (Others in the WG may also  
>>> be
>>> interested in the IRC discussion from yesterday logged at:
>>> http://krijnhoetmer.nl/irc-logs/html-wg/20090129#l-116 )
>>>
>>> It bothers me that it wasn't stated up front that private feedback  
>>> in
>>> general and from the W3C Team in particular was a major motivating  
>>> factor
>>> behind "HTML 5: The Markup Language". (Or if this has been stated  
>>> before, I
>>> haven't properly noticed it.)
>>>
>>> The HTML5 effort has been criticized for Hixie taking private  
>>> feedback
>>> into account in his editing of "HTML 5". However, Hixie has at  
>>> least readily
>>> disclosed that private feedback has motivated notable editing  
>>> choices.
>>>
>>> Given the recent suggestion that the WG needs some ground rules  
>>> for taking
>>> on new drafts, I'd like to suggest that one of the ground rules be  
>>> that
>>> editors disclose to the WG when a draft or a section of a draft  
>>> comes into
>>> existence in response to private feedback the whole group isn't  
>>> seeing. (Of
>>> course, I'd prefer even more openness.)
>>
>> As long as Ian Hickson is the editor of the main deliverable, I  
>> don't think
>> we're going to get more openness. He's made it clear that he wants  
>> all
>> decisions made within the confines of his own mind, with no "others"
>> undermining that process. As long as that is the modus operandi for  
>> the WG,
>> openness is the most inappropriate word imaginable to describe the
>> activities of this WG.
>
> If that is the case I strongly disagree with such a decision process.
> Can you point out where either Hixie or someone else said that this is
> the process we use, or where a formal or informal decision was made
> within the WG to allow for such a decision process.


At the moment I don't have time to track down every message regarding  
this. One particularly prototypical one that I found quickly is  
this[1] one. However, to get the complete story one would have to  
carefully follow the discussion of the WG going back to its beginning.  
One would need to

• link to Ian's blog where he invited public participation in the HTML  
WG to help shape the future of HTML
• link to countless messages in the first few months of the WG (and  
lingering on until today) where many of the WhatWG often replied to  
sincere proposals and suggestions with insults and otherwise rude  
replies
• link to Ian's cycle of canned messages he uses to shoot down  
proposals including
    • I don't understand the use case (no matter how clearly a use  
case is presented)
    • I first need to catch up on my other work before I can focus on  
the WG's needs (yet if you closely follow the progress, Ian still  
skips over the issues raised in the WG as he processes his queue)
    • Implementors trump the needs of authors (even though the stated  
priority of constituencies for this workgroup is: users, authors,  
implementors, specification authors)
    • and many other excuses that simply don't hold water

Like the message I link to above, Ian has repeatedly—on the listserv  
and on IRC—insisted that he does not listen to the views of WG  
members, but only relies on his own opinions—which he calls "research"  
veiled behind unscientific research methods. This has occurred for  
many issues including distributed extensibility, several accessibility  
related issues, rdf support, narrative dialog suggestions, the 'role'  
attribute, improving the parsing algorithm for forward compatibility,  
etc.

These issues are all ones I have weighed in on, but they did not  
originate with me. I was persuaded by others of the merits of these  
proposals and joined in the discussion (after first listening to the  
proposals and engaging in clarifying dialog). I do not expect that Ian  
nor anyone else would agree with me on what proposals are valuable and  
which are not. However in most cases, Ian doesn't even bother to  
engage the other members of the WG and their proposals. Instead, he  
dismisses anything he hears that doesn't meet the narrow understanding  
of HTML he has gained in his contact with some rendering engine and  
browser implementors. So he never advances his understanding of the  
proposals beyond the immediate knee-jerk tendency that we all might  
feel when processing other's ideas.

My apologies for not providing links to all of these references, but  
as I said I do not have the time right now to track them down.  
Doubtlessly others in the WG may even have some of these prototypical  
Ian responses bookmarked or otherwise compiled. I have not focussed on  
collecting such evidence, but instead on understanding and vetting the  
many valuable proposals of this WG's members that can improve HTML.

Take care,
Rob

[1]: <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0665.html>
Received on Friday, 30 January 2009 21:19:30 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Wednesday, 9 May 2012 00:16:28 GMT