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Re: Change Proposals, objections, and the Decision Policy

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 14:36:51 -0700
Message-ID: <AANLkTimA_B5lAE74ELph9GFew1w4UbawOL1iexEX-EUE@mail.gmail.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, public-html@w3.org
On Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 9:32 AM, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Tab,
>
> On Jun 2, 2010, at 7:17 AM, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>
>> On Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 6:53 PM, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net> wrote:
>>>
>>> I was going to wait a day or so before I mentioned it again, but you
>>> recently authored two change proposals which I suggested that you might want
>>> to augment.
>>>
>>> When it comes time for a poll in issues 89 and 92, what URLs should be used
>>> to identify the change proposals that people are to register their
>>> objections?
>>
>> I can rewrite them to include the additional information I've sent to
>> the list.  Ping me before the poll comes up if I forget about it.
>>
>>
>>> As to your question in this email: the primary purpose of proposals is to
>>> make a case FOR something, i.e., provide rationale.  Clearly stated
>>> objections contained within a proposal will be considered, but that isn't
>>> the primary purpose of a proposal.
>>>
>>> This is true even for proposals made in response to other proposals (i.e.,
>>> counter-proposals).  The chairs made a decision that uncontested content in
>>> the spec does not need rationale, but contested material does, and that
>>> responses to bug reports and proposals are the place to provide the
>>> rationale.
>>
>> This doesn't answer my question.  Allow me to make it more direct.  Do
>> I hurt my case by merely authoring a change proposal and then not
>> repeating my objections in the poll?
>
> I have not yet discussed this with my co-Chairs, but here is my take.
>
> When the Chairs review survey responses on an issue, we also carefully study the Change Proposals submitted and most particularly the rationale sections. If you look at the Working Group Decision for ISSUE-76 (<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010Jan/att-0218/issue-76-decision.html>), each point of rationale in each submitted Change Proposal was explicitly addressed. For the recent round of decisions, we also carefully reviewed Change Proposal rationales, but we commented on them in a somewhat more cursory way.
>
> Since we're telling WG participants that they do not need to restate objections that are redundant with a Change Proposal, then I think we need to be very clear that we are in fact treating arguments in the rationale sections as objections when appropriate, even if not explicitly worded as such. Therefore I will recommend that for future decisions, the Chairs explicitly address at least all the individual points of rationale from each Change Proposal in the written decision.
>
> Does this address your concerns at all?

Possibly, but I still have reservations.

The fact that only objections from the survey were explicitly
referenced in the summary of decisions created a strong impression
that they were the overriding concern.  I had previously asked if they
were present in the email solely for summarization purposes, and
didn't get a response.  Having all the arguments that were noteworthy
enough to be considered in the decision would be helpful both for
simple political reasons (better appearance) and for technical reasons
(in the current decisions, I have no idea what arguments from the
proposals were considered strong or weak).

Further, if the text that Sam is quoting accurately describes the
criteria you guys are using to make decisions, then it's not clear to
me if you are using what I feel is the correct interpretation of
"strong objection" (and it appears that, at the very least, it's
similarly unclear to Adam Barth).  "Strong objection" could be
interpreted to mean "strongly-held objection" or "strongly-asserted
objection".  That doesn't appear to be the intended reading of that
section, though - I believe the correct interpretation is an objection
with strong reasoning backing it up.

>From my vantage, it appears that the former interpretation is used at
least somewhat in the arguments - if a group vociferously objects,
their objection appears to be heavily weighted, even if their
objection has little to no technical merit.

More further, as Jonas brings up, I put arguments in the "Positive
Effects" and "Negative Effects" sections as well.  That appears to be
the most appropriate place for some things, and it seems silly to
repeat an argument in multiple places just so it shows up in the right
place of the Change Proposal.  If there is some implied preferred
structure to the Change Proposals that can affect how they are read
and interpreted, I'm not aware of it.

More more further, though you have again repeated that arguments
present in the change proposals don't need to be restated as
objections during the poll, I continue to receive the impression that
doing so would in fact help sway decisions in my favor, and have been
privately encouraged to do so.  This makes me continue to question why
I write change proposals at all, when I could spend the same effort
objecting during the survey for greater effect, perhaps after putting
up just enough of a token objection to prevent an amicable resolution
and force a survey.

Finally, I feel the HTMLWG Chairs are not properly managing dissent in
the first place.  Taking all disagreements that someone feels strongly
enough about to pursue into Issues and starting up a heavyweight
Change Proposal/Counter Proposal/Survey/Continued Discussion After The
Survey Has Been Concluded Without Any Resolution In Sight process, as
specified by the current Process Document, goes against the quote from
Sam.  The recent spate of removal issues were somewhat mitigated by
the chair's willingness to consider them in a group, but that merely
reduced the amount of trivial busywork the group was forced to endure
over a minor issue that should have been resolved via a quick Chair
decision at most.  This explosion of frivolity has forced me to
temporarily route all HTMLWG email straight to archive.  Doing so has
certainly reduced my stress levels, though it doesn't do the group any
good.  I suspect that many other useful members of this group either
do similar, or simply ignore such mail as it comes in without actually
going to the effort of automating their disdain.

~TJ
Received on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 21:44:37 GMT

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