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Re: Decision process in the HTML working group

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Sun, 6 May 2007 15:14:53 -0700
Message-Id: <2EDA1B71-7F49-40EB-A5EC-DC9AC72133DC@apple.com>
Cc: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, www-archive@w3.org
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>


On May 6, 2007, at 6:03 AM, Dan Connolly wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> 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 problems:
>> 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.
>
> This isn't a straw poll.
>
> People who just want to express disagreement
> without formally objecting are supposed to just express that
> disagreement in email or in the rationale field and abstain.

Yes, this is what I think is a problem. If someone dislikes the plan,  
but not at a "lie across the railroad tracks" level, then they can't  
say "no", they have to say "abstain", which I think is unfair.

>> 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.
>
> True, he probably didn't understand what I meant the "no" option
> to mean when he chose it. That makes for a little extra "paperwork,"
> but it doesn't seriously impact things.

Well, there's people in between where it's hard for me to tell if  
they would have registered an FO as a follow-on to a "no" vote. In  
other working groups I've been in, dissenters in a voice vote after  
long discussion rarely chose to turn their dissent into a Formal  
Objection. Would the person who proposed that the new standard be  
named not "HTML 5" but "Canonical HTML" have chosen to escalate the  
issue after a vote? He seems to feel strongly, but it's hard to tell.  
I'd say the same may even apply to Terje's no votes, even though he  
is fully aware that they constitute a Formal Objection.

>> 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.
>
> I expect to give participants various chances to withdraw their
> objections.

OK, but that's hardly the same thing as giving them the chance to not  
register Formal Objections in the first place while still expressing  
disagreement in a clear way.

>> 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.
>
> WBS doesn't currently support that, as far as I know. Perhaps
> I'll look into getting it enhanced.

I'm not sure what WBS has to do with it. Couldn't you just not count  
the "no" votes as Formal Objections at all, and strong dissentors get  
a chance to lodge a Formal Objection afterwards "by hand", just as a  
commentor at Last Call would? I asked participants in other working  
groups and they generally reported that telecon or f2f decisions  
allowed disagreement without it necessarily counting as an FO.

>> This way, Formal Objections will be the rare special appeals they  
>> were meant to be and not commonplace features of the decision  
>> process.
>> Regards,
>> Maciej
>
>
> -- 
> Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
>
Received on Sunday, 6 May 2007 22:15:04 GMT

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