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HTML-WG threshold of relevance for a topic -- e.g., "certificates of anonymity" and "html sans html"

From: Dailey, David P. <david.dailey@sru.edu>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 16:05:17 -0500
Message-ID: <1835D662B263BC4E864A7CFAB2FEEB3D01E43CA1@msfexch01.srunet.sruad.edu>
To: <www-archive@w3.org>
Cc: <rubys@intertwingly.net>, <connolly@w3.org>, <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Almost two years ago when the HTML WG was first assembled, I think before even Chris had assumed his role as co-chair, I can remember Dan worrying a bit about "traffic control." That is, the volume of messages had to be kept down, with an emphasis on keeping frivolous and uninformed messages to a minimum on that high-traffic list.


Over time, I realized that much of what actually transpired in the HTML-WG was not stuff that I knew a lot about or had many opinions about. As such, my participation rather fell off. Unless the topic seems like something I am interested in, I have generally just hit delete for the vast majority of messages for the past 16 months.


Anyhow, I'm writing here, so as to avoid what could be seen as a procedural debate on the list itself, but because at the same time I am looking for some clarification that might affect the possible participation of others like me who "tune in" only occasionally. Let us call this group the "na´ve but interested membership." At some point in time, some of us will have to start teaching HTML5 to the broader audience so it is important to keep us somewhat affiliated.


Twice in the past week, I've had a question about something pertaining to "does the spec currently handle topic X?"


A week ago I posed one such question, but I did so a bit hesitantly. The WG is clearly not intended to be a resource for FAQ's. That question (with the subject "HTML sans HTML") had to do with a browser inconsistency in dealing with a web page consisting of <script>javascript</script> and no other HTML.  Hixie resolved the question quite quickly, and some others chimed in quickly and my issue was quickly dispatched. However I was left with the lingering concern that I had consumed bandwidth and the editor's time for a question which perhaps could have been solved another way. One way it was not going to be solved, however, was for me to sit down and figure out what the spec said should happen, since I would not know how to use the spec to answer that question.  Maybe IRC would be a better place? Before jumping to an answer, please read the second example, which I've not posted to the group at large. I think it is maybe a better, or more interesting example.


Anyhow the general question is "given the fact that the overall volume of the list has stabilized at a large number and given that the amount of frivolity, flaming, joking, irrelevance and irreverence, has developed its own rhythm, are we still so concerned about bandwidth?" Is there another place to which such questions like "does the spec currently handle topic X" should be funneled?


Let me give the second example, just to round out the fullness of my "use cases":


Today I read an article (dare I call it a blog) about the topic of "White House Exempts YouTube from Cookie Policy" [1]

It made me wonder whether there was, in fact, any way for the federal government to provide streaming video without using technology such as You Tube or Hulu that apparently uses cookies to maintain state during a transaction? The use of those cookies, has apparently (argues the author of said article [1]) been contrary to federal rules about tracking information about citizens. In truth I don't know if what the White House wants to do could be done without use of 3rd party (Google/You Tube) software using cookies; I don't know how or if the use of cookies is important at some technical level to the delivery of consistent web broadcasts; I don't know the nature of these "federal rules." I also don't know if under the proposed HTML5, there would be any way for the language (HTML5) to be written so that an information provider such as the federal government could require its 3rd party software to offer "certificates of anonymity" within its transactions through the .gov site, insuring that 3rd party tracking cannot be performed; hence respecting whatever guidelines on privacy the government might wish to enforce. 


Perhaps the answer to this second question would be obvious to all members of HTML WG who have followed the developments over these past many months and would, hence, be a waste of their time. Maybe I am na´ve to pose the question. Maybe the topic is worth raising, and maybe raising it would help the spec evolve in ways that would help it be heartier and more robust.


I guess, in conclusion, my question is "do the chairs currently think the level of noise is enough under control that the cost of another na´ve question is low enough that the resultant conversation may be worth it?" Or alternatively, "where should such a question be posed?" Many of the "na´ve but interested membership" category might call, I think, for an occasional inventory of where the group has been and where it is going. Some of us would like to have an idea of where it is going and would have liked to see more discussion of the "big picture" early on. (e.g. [2] and any of my posts in March and April 2007 in the debate on "design principles".) I think Shelley Powers had a similar concern recently on WHATWG (e.g., [3] and [4]), though Sam participated in that conversation and may have a different sense of the similarity or not; I seem to recall a "let's look at the big picture" argument arising somewhere in that rather prolonged thread..


I put the question here, under the general notion (that I seem to recall from Dan's guidance) that if I have a procedural question, it is probably best to leave some footprints of how it was resolved since others may, at some time, have a similar question. 





[1] http://news.cnet.com/8301-13739_3-10147726-46.html 

[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007JanMar/0555.html 

 [3] http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-January/018220.html 

[4] http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-January/thread.html#18220 


Received on Monday, 26 January 2009 21:06:31 UTC

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