W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-w3process@w3.org > May 2014

On Elections

From: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2014 15:10:02 -0400
Message-ID: <CADC=+jdsjrWuZFcTr-_gjYc2XKpKFv80Z85Tqik0X8fQV5dvOQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-w3process@w3.org
I'm forking this to talk about elections, not a voting system. I'm willing
to bet money that the system for voting, has not historically been a huge
problem.  I'm entirely supportive of reforming it because there are good
theoretical reasons to do so - if elections were clicking and important and
less visibly about significantly different paths, they could make a big
difference.  My assertion is, simply that they probably haven't.  It should
be easy for W3C to more or less verify this.  Further beneficial though -
If some kind of data were public (or at least made available to those
elected) it would help govern the work as well.

BUT - I propose instead that the primary problem with W3C elections is much
simpler:  Lack participation/interest/engagement.  I see some of "concern"
being expressed that somehow an what's happening in the past few cycles of
elections is harmful and might (or maybe the claim is 'has'?) lead to
something undemocratic, a shut out of voices or that its results are no
better than random selection and some comments about 'feeling pressure' and
'campaign machines', or that something 'unfair' is happening.  I don't know
that this is representing Charles' statements as he intends them -- in
fact, I think it's not his thrust (but feel free to correct me if I am
wrong) but it's easy to see how it could be read this way.. Just the
thought of that dismays me so much that I'm going to go ahead and address
it.

There are only a few hundred ACs, and for a lot of them, the truth is that
it's just a formality... In some cases, the AC is the AC for legal reasons
and the AC isn't actually so much involved.  In many cases, it wouldn't
even surprise me if they didn't even know there was an election.  The net
result is that you wind up with a very small group of people from a small
number of orgs who frequently nominate and who always vote.  Is it shocking
in some way that they tend to nominate someone they know?  I don't think
so.  Is it statistically more likely that all things being equal, they will
vote for someone that they know over someone that they don't?  And who are
they more likely to know?  Again, it seems obvious that you will trend
toward the same pool of orgs/class of nominees.  If the groups don't do
something important, they seem irrelevant, which furthers the problem.
 And, of course, while these groups have a potential to have a lot of
impact, they are almost totally unknown to the world outside the land of
ACs.  Likewise, for AB at least, it's not a compelling sort of role that
all who are interested in W3C would do well in - just finding good
candidates is hard.  All of these things combine and exacerbate one
another... What we saw until a year and a half ago seems to me the
inevitable result.  To paraphrase Jefferson: ignorance/apathy and democracy
are incompatible.

Recently, some of us who are not ACs (indeed, many of us are not even
members) have collaborated on a number of things we think are important to
the healthy future of the Web - and what that means to the W3C if the W3C
is to play the role - and how it can help.  Unsurprisingly to me, some of
us have tried really hard - to spark interest and fan the flames of
democracy so that our Web is actually somehow representative of things that
we care about.  I was not a member of the W3C when all of this started, but
I was active to the extent that I could be without someone writing a check
or inviting me on.  I campaigned for people.  I talked to them about what
was important to me and people I know.  I wrote about why I thought it was
important, and they did to.  I emailed people that I knew (personally, not
via mass mailings) and tried to explain why I thought this was important to
the Web at large and, in some cases, to their org too. As I reached out
more - I didn't have access to any list - I used google (if your twitter
profile or email signature says "AC Rep for XYZ" it's hardly private
knowledge) and asked people that I know `hey do you know who the rep for X
is`.  I have myself, and I have encouraged others to reach out by whatever
means I could, to anyone who might be sympathetic - for the most part, not
the traditional/major players - and I'm looking for diversity of
representation too.  Here is the crux though:  Participation, collaboration
and passion are not evils - they are necessary.  They are part of the
solution.  A preferential voting system will not help this problem - it
also requires participation, information, debate, discussion and,
ultimately turnout - and progress requires participation and ability to get
general consensus on what's important.

Elections are a healthy time for debate, reflection, education and aim
setting. We need more campaigning, visibility, passion, participation and
debate in our elections, IMO, not less - and unless someone convinces me
otherwise, please know that my own efforts to blog, reach out to those I
know and encourage them do to the same - to open up the W3C participation
model and promote involvement, help give developers a voice and to do
whatever I can to build consensus and get folks elected that: a) stand for
something I believe in and b) that I believe can either get it done and can
make the difference in aiding the rest of the group to get things done will
remain unchanged.

So, if you think someone should be elected - I encourage you to make your
best case... I'll be doing the same.  This is just healthy.


-- 
Brian Kardell :: @briankardell :: hitchjs.com
Received on Monday, 5 May 2014 19:10:31 UTC

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