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

Re: Workshop and meeting requirements

From: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2014 13:04:57 +0200
To: public-w3process@w3.org, "Wayne Carr" <wayne.carr@linux.intel.com>
Message-ID: <op.xfweejuny3oazb@chaals.local>
TL;DR: skip this email. I'll summarise my thoughts on the thread tomorrow  
with an updated outline for what I will propose to the AB.

On Tue, 13 May 2014 20:16:43 +0200, Wayne Carr  
<wayne.carr@linux.intel.com> wrote:
> On 2014-05-13 09:34, David Singer wrote:
>> There are a lot of inter-related concepts at play here, and some of  
>> them are in conflict.
>> Even if the process formally says that decisions made at face to face  
>> meetings are not final, there is strong social pressure — and indeed,  
>> for meetings to be effective, there needs to be strong social pressure  
>> — to allow the meeting to set a direction and move ahead.  “Look, maybe  
>> you have a point, but we discussed this for two days in Uttar Pradesh,  
>> and we need very convincing arguments to re-open the discussion.”

Certainly. If it was discussed for two days by those able to attend, or  
call into the meeting for two days in Uttar Pradesh, and when the proposed  
resolutions are distributed to the mailing list for confirmation, and  
clearly fail to show rough consensus, the problem isn't the process, it is  
that the working group doesn't agree.

> (while it isn't now) I'd like that to be the rule, that decisions at  
> meetings have to be confirmed on the mail list (if only by object to  
> decisions in the meeting minutes within 2 weeks or they stand). Given  
> participation from all over the world, distributed meetings can be  
> scheduled middle of the night always for some participants.

Indeed. Or in the middle of a meeting at work that is very hard to move,  

>> … a workshop … really ought to be possible to plan 8 weeks in advance

I don't think this is a contested point.

>> …prioritize attendance based on demonstrated interest and ability to  
>> contribute (statements of interest, position papers, and so on).

I don't see any argument that this should (continue to) be possible.

I believe we need to clarify that this is not REQUIRED. It seems that  
having it hidden among 4 other paragraphs in a chapter means people don't  

> And a meeting that doesn't follow those rules could be called something  
> other than a Workshop.

I don't think that is a solution, it is just renaming a problem.

> ... WGs can't have a WG meeting on short notice (unless there are no
> objections),

Which is important flexibility (leave aside that the 8 weeks is a SHOULD  
for WGs anyway). Working Groups are meant to be working together. One  
would expect them to be sufficiently functional that where it is obviously  
important to get the group together on short notice they can do so, and  
where participants have a real objection this can be managed.

> but they can have other meetings with the community or whomever which  
> are not formal WG business meetings (e.g. cannot make WG decisions).

This is currently completely undefined. The practice has been for groups  
to assume they *cannot* do this, and therefore have "non-w3c" events if  
they want something like a "workshop". In some cases it should be easy to  
do this, in others not. I'll return to this question below.

>> But at the opposite extreme, sometimes a question comes up in a working  
>> group, and a subset volunteer “look, let’s get together around a  
>> whiteboard and in a place we can experiment, and we’ll report back”  
>> that clearly doesn’t need nearly as much planning (and it’s done all  
>> the time).

There is an important key in this piece, which is that the subset  
volunteers the information up front that they are doing this. At which  
point the process of making it a WG meeting is usually trivial.

There is nothing in the process that says how such notification should  
take place - I think asking for a message to the mailing list defined by  
the charter as the group's primary method for notification is not onerous.  
In practice, it takes about 5 minutes to write such a message, and is the  
sort of thing the chairs agree to do when they take on the role.

I think there is also a concrete difference between a specific-purpose  
meeting (let's see if we can agree on good ways to make representative  
decisions that will convince everyone else) and a more generic topic like  
"let's figure out how everyone should do maths on the web".

>>  Perhaps it’s worth stating as a principle that the strength of an  
>> outcome is roughly proportional to the opportunity to be involved in  
>> it; so a formal vote of all members of a WG is stronger than a  
>> consensus at a face to face meeting, which is stronger than the outcome  
>> of an informal get-together, and so on.

Yes. I would have thought that was pretty obvious, at least to those  
tasked with chairing a group - and therefore clarifying it for members who  
don't understand that already. But perhaps it is worth stating explicitly.

> But informal get-togethers have no standing at all in the WG.

If they really are informal get-togethers. It is trivial to hold a meeting  
under W3C process - in essence, a WG says "we're having a meeting" to  
somebody (their mailing list, or in a meeting, or to someone walking down  
the street) and they have met the formal requirements.

But there are benefits in following the process.

The point about having meetings under the process is that there is a legal  
difference between a standard developed in open collaboration, and  
anti-competitive collusion. For companies in places where such law is  
enforced, and for W3C which claims to operate under various principles of  
fairness and transparency, this difference actually matters.

There are also obvious benefits in the process being reasonable (which  
IMHO it clearly is). And benefits in people knowing that - which IMHO they  
clearly don't, by and large.

> CfC doesn't seem to be in the process.

There is a whole section on consensus. It boils down to something like  
your suggestion below. But there isn't a defined rule for how they will be  
done. Groups like the HTML Accessibility Task Force have therefore  
explicitly agreed to and documented how they will implement them [2]

>  That may be worth adding with some description of how WG participants  
> can request stronger forms of evaluating consensus.  e.g. Director's  
> appeal > mail list vote > mail list CfC > other means of Chair  
> estimation of consensus (including decisions at WG meetings).
>> If it’s worth holding a meeting, it’s worth keeping and publishing a  
>> record (I doubt anyone disagrees with this, though people tend to get  
>> lax after a meeting has happened and the excitement has passed).

I think that this is a point we should reinforce.

> A WG can also decide to do something like hold an open discussion with  
> interested members of the community somewhere they choose to get  
> feedback on some question and to call it a W3C X WG community meeting,  
> can't they?

Perhaps. For most concrete examples I suspect the answer is yes.

There is an unresolved question about what is in scope, because what  
working groups do is determined by their charter - and this is a formal  
agreement with the AC as part of the relationship under which we make  
licensing commitments to W3C technology.

>  (not a formal WG meeting, no WG decisions possible).  If the TAG had  
> wanted to call the recent meeting a W3C Tag community forum, is there  
> anything that would have prevented that?

Probably not. About the only thing that would cause objection is if the  
TAG agrees to take on work outside its scope (for most WGs that is defined  
in their charter which can be revised. The TAG has a charter but is also  
defined under the Process - and right now those two documents seem to be  
in conflict. But that's not a relevant problem for this set of issues).

> If a WG wants to create a subgroup to investigate something to
> generate information, not decisions, those people can meet without
> any set notice, can't they?

In principle, they *should* have 8 weeks notice, although they can waive  
that with the agreement of the WG.

So if the WG are happy with a subgroup that meets whenever they all agree  
to do so, that's fine under the current process.

> There's nothing blocking any of that, is there?  I don't see why we'd  
> need to address any of that in the process.

This depends what the subgroup does. If they are working on fixing the  
markup errors in a few specs, I doubt anyone cares. But if they are making  
wholesale technical decisions about the shape of e.g. Service Workers or  
Web Components, and they expect their subgroup decisions to be close to  
binding on the Working Group at large, they *should* have a bad time if  
the Working Group at large disagrees.



Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
       chaals@yandex-team.ru         Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:05:31 UTC

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