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Notes on the process

From: Tim Bray <tbray@textuality.com>
Date: Wed, 07 May 1997 17:57:55 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
At 12:31 PM 5/7/97 -0700, Bill Smith wrote:
>I object strenusously to both the outcome of this "vote" and the process
>itself. Clearly consensus was not even remotely reached on this issue. 

I claim consensus *was* reached.  Because you will discover that the
ERB members, having worked through this, will be out evangelizing
XML, whichever way we voted on one issue or another.  I do, and I
dissented loudly on all sorts of important stuff ("ambiguous" content
models, grrrrrr).  There has been no significant design decision on 
which there were no dissenters.  Simultaneously, the ERB contains no 
misfits or malcontents.  In the case of this effort, we have used 
voting as a mechanism to establish consensus.

One reason this was necessary was the personalities.  Virtually all
the ERB members are opinionated loudmouths who have a variety of 
technical convictions that they will simply never abandon; and yet
in a large sense, we tend to trust each others' collective judgement.

One of the side-effects of this process is that XML was created... if
we'd used a pure model of consensus, we'd still be months away from the 
first draft. 

One weird and slightly worrying thing is that as soon as it becomes
obvious which way the ERB is heading on any issue, the volume of
WG traffic in opposition quickly becomes much larger than that in 
support.  A behaviorist might have an explanation.  The effect is
that I never have the slightest idea what the *majority* opinion on
anything is out there - this is aggravated by the fact that the 
traffic is too high for many people to read.  Thus one can only
safely attend to the quality of argument, not its volume. -Tim
Received on Wednesday, 7 May 1997 20:59:42 UTC

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