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Re: Consensus on ISSUE-73

From: Sandro Hawke <sandro@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 13:03:56 -0500
To: "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>
Cc: jjc@hpl.hp.com, bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk, public-owl-wg@w3.org, hendler@cs.rpi.edu
Message-ID: <14904.1200679436@ubuhebe>

> There are two terms used in the process document related to decisions:
> Consensus (substantial support with no formal objections) and Dissent
> (at least one formal objection).  This allows quite a number of
> situations, including 
> - neither Consensus nor Dissent (little support but no formal
>   objections) 
> - Dissent but not substantial support (a formal objection against a
>   decision that was not made?)
> - Consensus with some dissatisfaction (considerable support plus some 
>   negative votes but no formal objections)
> I suppose that there could even be Dissent to a unanimous decision,
> perhaps if a chair refused to reopen a decision when a participant
> wanted to change their stance.
> I see quite a difference between voting against a decision and
> registering a formal objection.  I don't see that the document disallows
> negative votes without a formal objection (or even other stances like,
> perhaps, that the decision is not one that the WG should be taking).
> My belief is that the WG currently has consensus with some
> dissatisfaction for two issues, 55 and 73.  Certainly neither had
> unanimous support, which requires complete support (although the wording
> in the document on unanimity is a bit weird, and could be read to allow
> some negative votes).  I haven't heard of any formal objections being
> filed for either issue or even a proximate threat to do so.  I also
> believe that there was substantial support for both issues.

I'm very amused at your formal reading of the [W3C] spec, while I'm just
going to appeal to intuition.

In my mind, a Formal Objection means you're not just going to let this
go.  You're really going to keep working against it, and you think
people should know that.  Presumably you'll do that because you think
it's a really bad idea that will do real harm.

On the flip said, *not* formally objecting means that after the
decision, you should probably shut up about it, since they're just empty
words.  At the decision point, you have to decide whether you're going
to keep fighting or not, and formally objecting is the way of telling
the group you're going to keep fighting.     Then the Director reviews
the matter so see just what the impact of your ongoing fight is going to
be, and whether somehow the group did not make a good-faith effort to
reach consensus through technical investigation, etc.

Wikipedia's text on the matter (speaking about consensus process in
general, not W3C specifically):

  * Any group member may "block" a proposal. In most models, a single
    block is sufficient to stop a proposal, although some measures of
    consensus may require more than one block (see previous section, "If
    consensus is not unanimous, who must agree?" ). Blocks are generally
    considered to be an extreme measure, only used when a member feels a
    proposal "endanger[s] the organization or its participants, or
    violate[s] the mission of the organization" (i.e., a principled
    objection). In some consensus models, a group member opposing a
    proposal must work with its proponents to find a solution that will
    work for everyone.[13][15] 
          - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making

I keep meaning to update that page to add W3C's model of "who must
agree", which involves this Review By The Director, etc.

          -- Sandro
Received on Friday, 18 January 2008 18:06:16 UTC

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