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Re: [Fwd: The third thing I don't like about the WAI-IG list]

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 04 Jan 1999 16:52:06 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: lake@netscape.com (Lakespur Roca), Accessability <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Well said.


At 01:43 PM 1/4/99 -0800, Lakespur Roca wrote:
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>Message-ID: <36911865.BD217A3D@netscape.com>
>Date: Mon, 04 Jan 1999 11:37:09 -0800
>From: Lake Roca <lake@netscape.com>
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.5 [en] (WinNT; I)
>X-Accept-Language: en
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>To: "Charles F. Munat" <coder@acnet.net>
>Subject: Re: The third thing I don't like about the WAI-IG list
>References: <002101be36ab$0afccdc0$221172a7@acnet.net>
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>I agree with Charles on all points.  Now how's about a solution. I don't
>have them all.
>Especially here. I have been a member of many lists most of them
>professional. And have not encountered this negative attitude. Evan an
>"us against them" attitude almost combative.  Yes we have differing
>opinions but I have never heard so many bright caring people call so may
>other people ignorant in a derogatory way. Could we please be
>constructive in our criticism. We need to work with the community and
>with in the larger community.  We should look at things from both sides
>not only out of courtesy but because this will help the group in
>devising solutions and answers to the barriers we will encounter when we
>try to initiate change.
>Instead of posting "Look what a bad job they did" or "Look at how
>uncaring or ignorant they are" posts we should be posting these as
>problems we encounter  and here is a possible solution and invite others
>to give further solutions.
>I have to admit that this is part of my job and I enjoy may job and take
>pride in my work but the prospect of reading this list some times makes
>me cringe.
>I have actually worked with a woman doing an empirical study of Email
>communication and how it's messages are misunderstood. And boy are they!
>An idol of mine Norm Abraham of This Old House and New Yankee Workshop
>espouses "measure twice, cut once". Here I think it would be "think
>twice, send once."  I see lots of messages here the respondent to a
>message did not understand the premise of a message and so missed the
>point. And others where the sender did not clearly express their point.
>The ensuing messages went back an forth with out making points that
>would have added any thing to the discussion.
>I would like to thank Charles F. Munat for his observations. I hope
>something good will come of this.
>Think Twice Send Once
>Lake Roca
>"Charles F. Munat" wrote:
>> This is the last one, but the biggest one for me.
>> #3
>> There is a certain sentiment often expressed on this list
>> that irks me beyond anything else. I call it the "holier
>> than thou" syndrome.
>> None of us on this list was born knowing how to build web
>> sites or how to make them accessible. All of us who do build
>> sites have come to this relatively late in life (i.e., not
>> in high-school, unless, of course, you still are), often
>> *after* learning how to build sites. And all of us are still
>> learning. But it all boils down to this:
>> We are each of us moving along a path toward understanding
>> accessibility issues and incorporating them into our lives
>> and work. Some of us are farther along the path. Some are
>> moving faster than others. But we are all on the same path.
>> And those who are not on this path are people who may
>> potentially be coaxed into following it, too.
>> So I do not understand the frequent snide comments I read on
>> this list. So-and-so's page claims it's accessible but it's
>> not! That's not the right way to use this kind of tag! Etc.,
>> etc. It nauseates me. And putting little emoticon smiley
>> faces (not accessible, by the way) or adding a wink or a
>> sigh does not make it OK. In fact, it just makes me sicker.
>> I am not fooled.
>> Maybe I'm reading too much into things, and maybe it's just
>> human nature, but some of the members of this list seem
>> awfully proud of themselves for being on it. Some of the
>> self-serving signatures alone are enough to make me gag.
>> As I understand it, this list can be read, at least in
>> archival form, by anyone. Snide comments, in my opinion, are
>> best kept to private transmissions (or better yet, ask
>> yourself what you have to be so snide about). This forum
>> should be a source of inspiration to others to emulate these
>> efforts, not an avenue for trashing other people's efforts.
>> I know many designers, some only via email, others face to
>> face. I have NEVER met a single designer who didn't do the
>> best job he or she could to design good sites. I have never
>> met a designer who did not take pride in his or her sites.
>> So if a site needs work (and show me the site that can't be
>> improved), GENTLY steering designers to material that will
>> aid them to make better sites seems to me much preferable to
>> hurting their feelings with sarcasm or pronouncements about
>> the value (or rather lack thereof) of their sites, made from
>> on high. In fact, I can see no use for snide or disparaging
>> comments, whether they are seen by the designer in question
>> or not, other than to boost the ego of the person making the
>> comment.
>> Finally, let me add that this type of post usually results
>> in a lot of agreement that snide remarks are bad with the
>> worst offenders being the quickest and loudest in their
>> agreement. So, if you are willing to consider this complaint
>> seriously, then I suggest that you first look back through
>> your old posts and ask yourself, What were my intentions in
>> writing this post? Did I really, honestly, intend to help,
>> or was I just venting spleen? Were my comments positive,
>> supportive, and encouraging? How would the other party
>> interpret this? You may be surprised by what you find. Let
>> me say that in my opinion, some of the most frequent posters
>> are also the worst offenders.
>> Not that venting spleen is all that bad, but it should be
>> done in general terms, never picking out specific
>> individuals or sites. And I would hate for it to become the
>> focus of this forum. Let's keep it to a minimum, I say.
>> So, I begin 1999 by encouraging the members of this list to:
>> 1. Try to be honest about how much effort is involved in
>> learning about and applying the principles discussed here.
>> Let's not minimize the value of the work that's been done by
>> a lot of people both on and off this list.
>> 2. Remember that this is not only about convenience, but
>> about ethics. There is a moral underpinning to this effort
>> that should not be minimized solely to avoid causing
>> discomfort to us or our clients.
>> 3. Read and reread every post before sending it. Ask
>> yourself if you've phrased it in a way that takes into
>> account everyone's feelings. Insensitivity helps no-one,
>> including the sender. And ask if the post is providing a
>> solution, or simply nitpicking about a problem.
>> To end, let me give an example from my own experience,
>> though others have suffered the same fate.
>> A few months ago I posted the addresses of a couple of sites
>> I had worked long and hard on to this list asking for
>> comment. Now I wanted to know what could be improved, but I
>> also hoped for encouragement and some approval from the
>> list, since I had obviously tried very hard to make the
>> sites accessible. Not many people outside of this list
>> appreciate accessibility issues (not many that I know
>> anyway), so this was the one place that I thought others
>> might understand.
>> Well, eventually I did get some encouragement, but not much.
>> Instead, the first few responses nearly knocked me out of my
>> chair. The general tone was very critical, and the general
>> message was, This is all wrong, or That's not the way you do
>> that, or You don't know how to use this attribute, or Why
>> the hell would you do this? Not necessarily in so many
>> words, but the tone was quite clear. Maybe I'm overly
>> sensitive, but I did not find these replies encouraging at
>> all. And not a single reply (until much later) pointed out
>> even one positive thing about the sites.
>> Sure, I learned a couple of things, but what a painful way
>> to learn! I guarantee you that I will NEVER post another
>> address to this list. I'm no glutton for punishment. And
>> I've seen others who got similar treatment. Also, I've
>> noticed, not a lot of other people seem to be posting sites
>> for review.
>> Now I spend more time lurking than participating, and every
>> time I see someone else get bitten, I wince. What kind of
>> way is that to teach and discuss accessibility issues?
>> I sincerely doubt that I am the only one who has had this
>> type of experience or who has felt this way. And while I
>> have had similar experiences with other lists (does the
>> anonymity of the Internet encourage this viciousness? Are we
>> willing to say things in email that we would be ashamed to
>> say face to face?), that does not excuse it.
>> So, for what's it's worth, that's my opinion at the start of
>> this new year.
>> Thanks for listening.
>> Charles Munat
>> Puerto Vallarta
Judy Brewer    jbrewer@w3.org    +1.617.258.9741    http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director,Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI), World Wide Web Consortium(W3C)

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Received on Monday, 4 January 1999 16:55:45 UTC

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