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Re: Followup to "Supergroups" message to AC Forum

From: Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:51:41 +0900
Cc: Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, Revising W3C Process Community Group <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-Id: <DAD8955B-3289-493F-AFF7-4362FFE3D2E8@rivoal.net>
To: Carine Bournez <carine@w3.org>

> On Jun 21, 2016, at 04:41, Carine Bournez <carine@w3.org> wrote:
> 
>> think it's time to acknowledge the fact the release of a Standard
>> is not always a straight line and that even with the best intentions
>> in the world, a Standard is not a Software project. In some cases,
>> giving an ETA is doable and reliable; in others, it's not and there's
>> almost nothing we can do against it. Please note this is an opinion
>> other Members also expressed. As an example, ETAs for the Deliverables
>> section of the new Charter of the CSS WG are, *again*, a problem and
>> a too complex effort. It's mostly useless, sucks our time, and let's
>> be serious, nobody ever looks at these dates again.
> 
> 
> IMHO, the interesting bits of the ETA work is to set priorities between 
> different deliverables, and evaluate estimated complexity of producing
> each deliverable (compared to each other). 

The problem is that a WG isn't a self-contained team with a boss that can
make people stick to the plan. Member companies prioritize things
however they want regardless of what the charter says, and depending
on the company, individuals also have quite a bit of latitude in how they
prioritize things. Yes, discussing priorities may bring some ammount of
alignment within the group, but if someone's priorities shift (or were never
aligned in the first place), there's not much the chairs can do to force
people to work according to the group's documented priorities.

In addition, we're talking about reaching REC, not merely CR, and that implies
more than spec writing, as it needs tests, implementations, test reports...
This depends on people who're not part of the Working Group. Theoretically,
test writers and implementers are largely part of the same member companies who agree to the charter, but in practice they are quite removed the WG, and there are
too many degrees of indirection for them to feel even remotely bound by
chartered priorities.

> You mentioned Testing as a particularly difficult point to estimate, almost 
> impossible to plan. I agree. However, I think it is still important that 
> a best effort strategy is used to draw the groups timelines. Just maybe 
> not in the charters, since they don't get updated that often.

The problem with testing is not merely that it is difficult to estimate. It
is (at least in the WGs/CGs I am familiar with) woefully understaffed
when compared to the spec-writing side. WG chairs have some ability to
make their WG more or less tester friendly, but they cannot effectively
designate volunteers and force the work to happen. Unless member companies
commit to have people spend time on test, charter ETA estimation often
boils down to "Should we pretend somebody is writing/reviewing tests for
this spec, even though currently no-one is?"

 - Florian
Received on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 01:52:09 UTC

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