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Role of public-xg-lld and public-lld mailing lists

From: Thomas Baker <tbaker@tbaker.de>
Date: Sat, 5 Jun 2010 14:25:58 -0400
To: public-xg-lld <public-xg-lld@w3.org>, public-lld <public-lld@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20100605182558.GA2844@octavius>
Dear all,

The default mailing-list configuration we received from W3C was:

-- member-xg-lld 
   -- subscribable only by XG participants
   -- with a Web archive readable only by W3C members (e.g., excluding
      Invited Experts and members of the public)

-- public-xg-lld 
   -- subscribable by anyone, with XG participants automatically subscribed
   -- world-readable Web archive

We felt that member-xg-lld was not usable because references
to email postings are not world-readable.  What we did was
to shift this in a "public" direction, i.e.:

-- member-xg-lld - dropped

-- public-xg-lld - redefined as XG-only list
   -- subscribable only by XG participants
   -- world-readable Web archive

-- public-lld - added as a community list
   -- subscribable by anyone, with XG participants automatically subscribed
   -- world-readable Web archive

We three co-chairs are in agreement on this, and it is
important to note that we made this change in the context of
existing W3C process for XGs [1]:

    -- All technical work is on a Member-only mailing list
       and Web pages, unless proposed otherwise in the Charter.

    -- The XG must maintain [...] one public mailing list
       (for public comments, and other interaction between the
       XG and public, as desired).

The two-list solution is consistent with the W3C model as
we understand it -- indeed our variant improves on this by
making the XG list completely world-readable -- and we have
the support of the XG Team for this change.

We see the difference between the two lists as roughly
analogous to the productive split we had between two mailing
lists used for the Semantic Web Deployment Working Group:

-- public-swd-xg
   -- subscribable only by participants of Semantic Web Deployment Working Group
   -- world-readable Web archive

-- public-esw-thes
   -- subscribable by anyone
   -- world-readable Web archive

These two lists worked very well for SWD; nobody on either
list complained.  The key to its success was that we routinely
and systematically Cc'd material of substantive interest
(i.e., about non-housekeeping issues) to the public list.
In our experience, cross-posting is quite common in the W3C
context and is actually a good thing.

After two weeks of official existence, we have already twice
as many subscribers on the community list as on the XG list --
i.e., equal numbers of non-XG and XG participants.  Leaving
aside the unusually large Social Web XG (75 members and 160
subscribers), the other XG lists we have looked at did not
have double the number of subscribers as members even at the
end of their charters.  If we actively promote subscription
to the community list, which is what we would like to do,
the number of subscribers will rise further while the number
of XG participants remains stable,

With over thirty committed participants, we would expect
housekeeping messages -- regrets for telecons, organization of
work on deliverables, and the like -- to account for between
one third and one half of list traffic. It has been suggested
here that interested members of the public can be expected to
filter this out.  However, if we are indeed hoping to attract
interest in the bigger public list from the broader outside
world, we see a greater risk that non-XG members will feel
annoyed, or shy about sending things to a list where half of
the traffic is about technical and housekeeping issues and
not about the substance of our work.  Anyone truly interested
in following housekeeping details will be able to consult,
cite, or tweet the public record.

For any XG materials of substantive interest, the chairs
would like to see these cross-posted to public-lld for wider
dissemination. If participants forget to do it, the chairs are
willing to help.  This worked well between public-swd-wg and
public-esw-thes so we see no reason it cannot work well here.

On the public side (public-lld), we want to encourage broader
discussion and community building.  Indeed our charter specifically
calls for outreach:

    Fostering collaboration among actors (libraries, museums,
    archives, publishers) interested in porting cultural
    assets to the Linked Data Web.

We want the community list to have alot of subscribers
and for there to be alot of discussion.  But while these
discussions are important to have, they should not interfere
with a focus on priorities and deliverables on the XG list.
If we do everything on one public list, the work of task
groups risks getting lost amid the community discussion.
We feel that XG participants are busy people who should not
have to scan a high-volume public mailing list to stay on
top of telecon topics.

In short, we stand by our position of using two lists with
extensive cross-posting.  We understand this position to
be consistent with W3C policy with regard to W3C Members and
Invited Experts, and we are strongly disinclined to spend chair
effort negotiating with W3C about changes to basic policy --
effort that is better spent focusing on deliverables.

We believe the two-list solution optimally serves both the
work of the XG and the wider community, and we are sure that
members of this list will let us know if they disagree.

Tom, Emmanuelle, Antoine

[1] http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/procedures.html

Tom Baker <tbaker@tbaker.de>
Received on Saturday, 5 June 2010 18:26:40 UTC

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