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Workshop and meeting requirements

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Fri, 09 May 2014 14:01:35 +0200
To: "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.xflc0xr5y3oazb@chaals.local>

I am developing a proposal for the 19 May AB meeting on W3C's Workshop and  
meeting requirements, and whether they need changes, and I am offering it  
here for comment.

+ The requirements are basically "8 weeks notice for a physical meeting in  
normal circumstances". This is reasonable and should not change.
+ We need to make it clearer what is required.
+ Meeting requirements SHOULD also include remote participation facilities  
(at minimum IRC) and reasonably accurately real-time scribing.
+ Working Group decision-making procedures SHOULD be asynchronous.
+ Process Section 3.2 and Chapter 9 should be merged.

==The current situation
The requirements are basically:

For face to face events, there SHOULD be 8 weeks notice. Working Groups  
can shorten this by unanimous agreement, Workshops can be held at 6 weeks  
notice on "urgent topics".
For virtual meetings there SHOULD be one week notice, unless it is held at  
a regularly scheduled time.
Agenda should be provided in advance of meetings, Action items and minutes  
should be made available afterward.
All WG members have the right to attend meetings of that Working Group.

Workshop attendance is open to anyone.
Workshops MAY use a structure such as requests for position papers to  
allocate limited places.

==The problem statement

The position paper/program committee structure has been claimed to be  
inappropriate for many types of event. This is a non-problem. The  
statement is true, but using such a process is entirely optional. It is  
offered as one possible fair and transparent way to determine who gets to  
take one of a limited number of places, in case that matters. However we  
should clearly educate our community, especially our chairs and those who  
organise meetings, on what the requirements are, and are not, in this  

The notice requirements are not, I believe, particularly onerous. In many  
examples of events that "couldn't" happen through W3C, the normal 8 week  
requirements could easily have been met. In others, it is not clear that  
it was necessary to waive the normal notice requirement, and it seems that  
doing so limited relevant people's ability to attend.

The claim that "all the relevant people were available", in the absence of  
any announcement, is unsustainable. W3C relies on participants  
self-identifying as relevant stakeholders. The opportunity to influnce the  
work of W3C is given to all such relevant stakeholders, with the result  
depending on them doing work. Denying Working Group members the  
opportunity to participate in a meeting is counter to these principles.

Failing to provide open and fair opportunity to attend relevant meetings  
also probably violates the conditions under which W3C is an ISO PAS  
submitter, and in extremis amounts to anti-competitive collusion.

==What to do
W3C meetings are normally minuted in IRC, allowing at least minimal  
real-time participation, and a detailed record. Working groups MAY request  
a telephone bridge (or use some other mechanism) to allow for real-time  
remote voice or video participation. W3C is apparently investigating  
further possibilities for this.

Some working groups have adopted requirements that binding decisions can  
only be made asynchronously, providing a realistic opportunity for those  
unable to attend a meeting to challenge a decision made by those who were.

Both these things are often part of the culture of groups, but are not  
required and in some cases do not happen. They should be explicitly noted  
as things that groups SHOULD do - and we should increase the cultural  
expectation that they will be conditions of agreement to waive minimum  
notice periods.

Finally, the meeting requirements for Working Group meetings, and  
Workshops (essentially meetings that do not cover chartered Working Group  
business) should be in a single section in the Process. There is a very  
high degree of overlap, both in the existing text and conceptually.

[1] Section 3.2:  
and chapter 9 <http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/events.html>



Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
       chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Friday, 9 May 2014 12:02:08 UTC

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