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Re: Chartering work

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2015 11:27:24 -0400
To: Mark Nottingham <mnot@mnot.net>, Revising W3C Process Community Group <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-ID: <55E5C3DC.2060306@w3.org>
Hi, Mark–

On 9/1/15 4:18 AM, Mark Nottingham wrote:
> FYI, below are my charter review comments on the Web Payments WG,
> which I think echo some of what Harry was saying recently.
>
> —8<— This area of work is very important to the Web, and we support
> its chartering in general.
>
> I've talked through the issues I had with the charter with Ian and
> Dom,

I thought you and Dom both made some good points there, and I wish the 
conversation had been public; I didn't see anything in it that should 
have been Member-confidential, much less Team-confidential.


> and made proposals (e.g.,
> <https://github.com/mnot/webpayments-ig>) to make it less verbose and
> more concrete (although there are still parts, especially in
> Deliverables, that aren't clear). Hopefully, those changes will make
> it into the final charter (AIUI the Process doesn't give much
> visibility into that until after approval).

I think it would be a good practice (perhaps required) to have a live 
revised view of a charter as part of the AC review, and linked to from 
the AC poll; this way, as the charter is changed based on feedback, 
later AC reviewers can see the changes and work that into their own 
review (either in support or opposition).

(Actually, annotations would be great for this, and we have the technology.)


> At a high level, I'm still uncomfortable with this charter, because
> it isn't based upon a concrete, technical proposal. It also lacks
> solid information on how it will be implemented; e.g., will it
> require browser support, or will it be possible to polyfill?

Even if something can be p(r)olyfilled, it's usually better to aim at 
browser support, especially when privacy and security are on the line.


> IME successful standards are based upon real implementation and
> deployment experience with a specific proposal, not confected from
> whole cloth.

On the whole, I agree with this, though there are exceptions both ways; 
waiting for existing implementations to start on sometimes means you'll 
never get started (unless you can use a polyfill as a basis… that's a 
lower bar).


> Good (even heroic) chairing might give it better odds,
> but this proposal doesn't name any chair(s), yet.

The charter does list one of the co-chairs, Nick Telford-Reed 
(Worldpay), chosen from the Web Payments IG for his active participation 
and leadership there; the other co-chair(s) are still TBD, but Ian is 
doing a serious effort to land one of the candidates that has shown good 
leadership and who also represents a key player. It's sometimes hard to 
get commitment from excellent people.

Your point is well-made, though: the chairs make the WG, and whenever 
possible, they should be decided before the charter goes to the AC for 
review. It would be interesting to talk about the list of qualities that 
a chair selection should have.

For example, Experience chairing in W3C is ideal, but a rare commodity. 
Technical strength in the area, but fairness and flexibility. Typically, 
calmness and people skills are needed, as is commitment to consensus. 
Having a co-chair also be one of the WG's editors is sometimes a red 
flag. Availability and organizational commitment are key.


> As such, I'd rather the charter nominate specific technical proposals
> -- something that the IG can work on and bring back to the AC.
>
> Failing that, I'd expect a more limited charter, where the work was
> chopped up into manageable bits, so that we can re-charter as the
> work progresses, contingent upon success in each milestone.

I think that the goals of the Web Payments WG are modest, even if they 
could be better defined.

I do agree with your general point, however.


> I'm going to leave this as a FO for now, because I think this is a
> fundamental issue in how we charter work, and I'd like to see a
> formal response (even if it's overruled, which is fine). —>8---
>
> Would love to chat through it if people are interested.

I think some (not all) of the criticisms here, and on many recent 
charters, are more aimed at the general chartering process, and not 
specifically at the immediate charter being reviewed.

I agree it's time we looked seriously at how we charter WGs, and how it 
can be streamlined and predispose a new WG toward success.

I've been collecting a list of suggestions for general good chartering 
practice, many of them from recent charter reviews, and also from 
threads on the AC forum [1] (member-only link, unfortunately, sorry). 
I'm about to go on vacation for a couple weeks, but I'll be interested 
to collect still more suggestions from this list, and work with anyone 
interested to come up with a concrete proposal for revising the charter 
process.

Mike[tm] Smith created a new w3c/charter-drafts github repo [2], in his 
words "as a space for draft charters to be developed for W3C Working 
Groups or Community Groups, and to be discussed and refined. The intent 
is that anyone can create a draft charter there for public discussion 
(and so no charters that get added to it necessarily have any official 
standing at all—it’s instead a place to get the public discussion started)."

That might be a good place to talk about this, and to act.


[1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-ac-forum/2015JulSep/0095.html
[2] https://github.com/w3c/charter-drafts

Regards–
–Doug
Received on Tuesday, 1 September 2015 15:27:29 UTC

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