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Decision process in the HTML working group

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Sun, 6 May 2007 02:57:47 -0700
Message-Id: <8F0C3F4E-06AA-4754-B60C-70AA54759FCB@apple.com>
Cc: www-archive@w3.org
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>

Hello HTML WG Chairs,

I think the decision process for our first formal resolution has not  
turned out so well. Counting every "no" vote as a Formal Objection  
means that to register any kind of dissent, one must automatically  
lie across the metaphorical railroad tracks, requiring either work  
stoppage or escalation of the dispute. I think this creates two  

1) People who disagree with the majority feel pressured not to vote  
"no", since it would potentially impede the progress of the group. In  
a straw poll, people should feel free to vote their conscience  
without worrying they may put the work of the group at risk.

2) People who do want to register their disagreement automatically  
escalate it to the most serious level just by virtue of their "no"  
vote. For example, I don't think the voter who said he liked the name  
"HTML 5.01" better than "HTML 5" necessarily would have chosen to  
escalate it to the Director after the vote.

In many W3C Working Groups, resolutions often carry just by majority  
vote, with dissentors given the opportunity to lodge a Formal  
Objection afterwards if they still strongly disagree. Often the  
Formal Objection is only done at LC time so there is plenty time to  
work things out before the FO has to be recorded for the Director. I  
suggest the chairs adopt this process for future WG decisions.  
Furthermore, ordinary comments on a Working Draft or Last Call draft  
are not normally automatically considered as Formal Objections, even  
if the resolution is "Disagree". Generally the disputant has to  
explicitly say it is a Formal Objection.

I propose that for future resolutions, "no" votes be treated only as  
ordinary statements of disagreement. Only if the dissentor explicitly  
chooses to escalate his dissent to a Formal Objection should it be  
treated as such. This way, Formal Objections will be the rare special  
appeals they were meant to be and not commonplace features of the  
decision process.

Received on Sunday, 6 May 2007 09:58:24 UTC

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