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Re: Thoughts on culture -esp. chairs and versions Re: " W3C Culture" CG? RE: Problems I'd like to see addressed in Process 2016

From: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2015 09:13:33 +0200
To: public-w3process@w3.org
message-id: <5541D61D.5000608@disruptive-innovations.com>
On 29/04/15 21:04, chaals@yandex-team.ru wrote:

>> - chairs need to lead much more strongly and, for example, drop issues
>> if work is not being done or debated endlessly, because obviously it
>> is not important enough to obtain a result

That's not as simple as that "chairs need to...". And there is nothing
like one W3C culture here: each WG has its own work style and habits,
each Chair has its own chairing style that highly depends on the local
WG culture. In the CSS WG for instance, Chairs are the orchestra leaders
but the players are the WG members; we're the drop of lubricant that
helps the machine working well. The local culture is VERY strong, with
20 years of strong autonomy shown by the Members. "More strongly" is
quite difficult there, and would be an every-day's battle.
And since I don't think we can say the CSS WG is not working well, I
don't really see why we should be that stronger.
After all, this is an industrial Consortium driven by member consensus,
and if the Members of a given WG want, by consensus, to spend time on
something we Chairs consider worthless at that point, there is not a lot
we can do to stop it.
Yes, we drive the agenda, try to orient work towards realistic goals
and timeframes. But there is not much we can do if the Membership
disagrees.

There are - or were - WGs where the local culture is/was far less
relaxed, with a firm decision policy or strongly leading chairs.
That's fine too. We have different Histories and styles, for different
technologies and skills.

I see at least one area where Chairs should lead more strongly, and
that's related to an issue we recently got in the CSS WG: the W3C
Process gives a few, rare, direct prerogatives to Chairs. They appoint
Invited Experts, name editors, a few things like that. For the first
time in CSS WG's history, an individual the vast majority of members
wanted to see co-edit a document was blocked by a Member, despite of
a clear consensus. Because of the local culture that required a WG
unanimity to appoint an editor, we chairs made a mistake: we started
a negociatiation instead of relying on the Process that says it's one
of our prerogatives and it was extremely long and painful. This is not
going to happen again, Peter and I have decided this becomes our sole
decision again, granted by the Process.

> Chairing a group at W3C should be an honour people strive to be good
> enough to earn, and be based on chairing ability, rather than belonging
> to the right industry sector, technical ability in the particular field
> which is as often a distraction from chairing as it is a help, or the
> like. But to get there from here we have to take a pretty robust
> approach to assessing, educating and as needed replacing our chairs.

I strongly disagree, please let me explain why: chairing is not a
honour, it's a duty and a burden and we _all_ know it. It's not on
Chairs' shoulders to consider it an honour, it's W3C's task to show
other people it's an special role with responsibilities, that's a big
difference. I don't want Chairs who feel "superior" because of an
honour, and that's a far too big risk in your prose above. As I said
above, I feel I'm only the oil drop lubricating a complex engine.
I have some responsibilities, and even some representativity,
but I would feel really bad if I was taking this as an honour because it
would be the first sign of abuse. We chairs are not productive,
Standards-wise; we only help the productive people, the Membership.
That's why I say it's not an honour but a duty.

</Daniel>
Received on Thursday, 30 April 2015 07:14:02 UTC

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