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Re: better process for fixing problems in W3C recommendations

From: Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfpschneider@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 07:35:19 -0700
To: David Singer <singer@mac.com>
Cc: public-w3process@w3.org
Message-ID: <04a24a23-7bc6-bade-d391-fbb2952446a9@gmail.com>
There are a bunch of intertwined problems.

Right now it is easy to see the "errata", but whatever is there is generally
not usable.  Consider the errata for the SPARQL 1.1 Query Language at
https://www.w3.org/2013/sparql-errata#sparql11-query.  Some of the errata are
simple point corrections.  Other errata, e.g., errata-query-8, don't say what
the solution should be, don't have any notion of who believes that this is a
problem, and don't correspond to the referenced discussion.  So I would have
to say that for the SPARQL 1.1 Query Language there is no a usable set of errata.

If there is a working group in existence for the recommendation, then things
are much easier.  The working group can, and should, approve problem reports,
construct solutions for them, and compose errata.  It should probably be the
case that the first task of a working group is to at least look over all
errata for any relevant recommendations.

However, it is more likely the case that there is no working group, e.g., for
SPARQL.  What to do then?  My suggestion is that a community group can, and
should, perform this role.  Yes, their output will not be as authoritative as
a working group, but if there are problems - and, believe me, there are lots
of problems for SPARQL - then a community group should be able to do what is
needed for there to be an agreed-on set of errata, each with precise changes
to the recommendation, discussion that leads to the changes, and a sense of
who is behind the erratum.

In my view this would greatly improve the usefulness of W3C recommendations
that have problems, and quite a few do.

Peter F. Patel-Schneider

On 06/24/2016 01:12 AM, David Singer wrote:
> Interesting you say this.  The Advisory Board has been discussing this for a while, and noting our very patchy approach to collecting and documenting errata, and the clear need to do better and be more consistent.
> 
> It should be easy
> a) to report a problem
> b) to see all reported problems that the WG agrees are errata
> c) to see all problems the WG has not yet categorized or addressed
> 
>> On Jun 24, 2016, at 1:31 , Peter F. Patel-Schneider <pfpschneider@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> W3C recommendations have problems.  Unfortunately fixing these problems is
>> very problematic.  I suggest that W3C community groups be able, and
>> encouraged, to submit reports pointing out problems in relevant W3C
>> recommendations and providing errata for these problems.  These reports would
>> then be reviewed and, if approved, made into normative errata for the
>> recommendation.
>>
>> This process should be restricted to cases where there is a clear problem in
>> the recommendation, i.e., either there is some formal error, such as illegal
>> structures being created or functions applied outside of their domain, or
>> multiple implementations differ from the recommendation.  Part of the review
>> process would be to ensure that there was adequate involvement of interested
>> parties, particularly implementors of the recommendation and members of the
>> working group that produced the recommendation.
>>
>>
>> Why is this a good time to establish this new process?  The W3C Data Shapes
>> working group is building SHACL on top of SPARQL.  Parts of SPARQL that it
>> heavily uses have problems.  It would be much better if a resultant
>> recommendation for SHACL could normatively depend on SPARQL as modified by the
>> fixes that have been approved by W3C instead of saying that SHACL depends on
>> SPARQL with some set of changes, which would in essence fork the definition of
>> SPARQL within W3C.  The RDF Tests Suite Curation Community Group would be a
>> good group to handle errata for SPARQL, although it would also be possible to
>> set up a new group specifically to address problems that are currently known
>> in the SPARQL recommendations.
>>
>>
>> Peter F. Patel-Schneider
>>
> 
> Dave Singer
> 
> singer@mac.com
> 
Received on Friday, 24 June 2016 14:35:52 UTC

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