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RE: Structure of deliverables: are we too PC for our own good?

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001 13:15:18 -0700
To: "Web Content Guidelines" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Al Gilman wrote:
"The 'signs and portents' that we have a problem are all over the place. The
troops are reduced to fighting amongst themselves because they can't seem to
get to a point where they feel they have accomplished something. A bystander
has muttered 'but, the Emperor has no Clothes.' How much more evidence do
you need that this premise needs to be evaluated for validity before moving
on further?"

These "signs and portents" don't seem any more substantial to me than the
alignment of Uranus and Jupiter. Make of them what you like. I can think of
lots of reasons for the infighting on this list that have nothing to do with
the validity of the document. Even in this discussion, opinions seem to be
lining up along well-established fronts.

A comment that the Emperor has no clothes is worthless in and of itself.
What does this mean specifically? And where is the real evidence to support
such a claim?

"Kelly has shown us that The Emperor Has No Clothes."

Kelly has shown no such thing.

I agree that labeling active elements is vitally important and should be
included in the document. But it is an enormous leap from this statement to
the view that the WCAG is invalid.

"This document is good for, but only fit for, internal consumption... There
is no external audience for which it is an effective message. It is only
half of the appropriate effective message for any audience that I can
imagine targeting... It's not a valid deliverable. It is not an answer to
any _stakeholder's_ problem."

Again, lots of claims with little or no evidence to back them up. Why is the
WCAG 2 only fit for internal consumption? How can you say that there is no
external audience for which it is effective?

Half an answer is still an answer. It seems to me that the intention of the
current split is to put the general portion of the answer into the WCAG and
the specific portions in the various techniques documents. I don't see why
it is unreasonable to expect users to combine two documents to get the whole

"To whom are we delivering what we have learned? How does what we hand them
slide effortlessly into their world?"

Who says it *should* slide effortlessly into their world? And who says it
doesn't? Where is the evidence? So far I've seen only one specific
problem -- labeling -- and that can easily be addressed within the current

"Just count up the number of voices that have asked 'Who _are_ the audience
for this deliverable?' and you will have prima_facie evidence that the
division laid out in our current plan for deliverables between part (a) and
the rest would fail a consensus call, a vote of confidence, at this time."

No, you'll have prima facie evidence that there is no agreement in this
group on who is the intended audience. There's no obvious connection between
a disagreement on audience and the division of the document into general and
specific recommendations.

"The agenda for the F2F should treat this matter as a question, not as a
given, or we will most likely just prolong a frustrating level of
wheel-spinning in the group."

I agree that the agenda for the F2F needs some work. We seem to have set
aside lots of time to discuss specifics (and to hear what BG thinks we
should be worrying about). I don't see any time set aside for discussion of
much more fundamental issues -- issues upon which we seem to be unable to
reach consensus. Without consensus on what the WCAG is and who it is for,
the efforts to press forward with specifics -- while understandable -- may
have the effect of creating a fait accompli for one point of view without
the opposing points of view having had a fair hearing.

What is clear to me from Al, William, and Jonathan's posts is that we do NOT
have a consensus on the validity of our approach. Shouldn't we be devoting
more time to the discussion of this before we rush forward with more
detailed versions of our current design?

I'd like to see some time set aside early on for this type of discussion.

Chas. Munat
Received on Sunday, 9 September 2001 16:12:47 UTC

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