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Re: evidence of harm

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 11:50:21 -0400
Message-ID: <4A439CBD.7050004@intertwingly.net>
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
CC: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, public html for all <list@html4all.org>
Steven Faulkner wrote:
> Hi sam,
>> you stated that my response on obfuscates the issue for you
> much clearer this time, thank you.
> My understanding was that it had previously been decided that the
> summary issue would be put to a vote:
> "ACTION-126 - Send a call to the WG to update the Wiki page to
> adequately reflect both (all) viewpoints on summary, in prep. for a
> vote [on Sam Ruby - due 2009-06-11

The content on wiki has significantly improved since the beginning of 
this month -- in a large part due to Laura's tireless efforts.

It is not clear to me what we we would vote on.  To give an idea on the 
range of possible questions we could vote on, here is what Hixie proposed:


Now, I am not interested in push polls or leading the witness or any 
other such nonsense.  That being said, I'll give my less than charitable 
read on what I think the wiki says even though I know it won't make me 
any friends: "we don't know what we want as a long term solution, but 
meanwhile some subset of us want a summary attribute anyway even though 
we don't know if it leads either in the right direction or astray".

In my opinion, all this would be resolved, and there likely wouldn't 
even be a need for a vote, if a clear consensus on what the right long 
term solution was formed, and we could collectively see where the 
summary attribute fits into that picture.

If the consensus of the group is that despite these concerns, now is the 
time to proceed to a vote, I'll help make that happen.  My (one) vote 
will simply be No.

> On the issue of alternative specs:
> If a person or group of people have a an issue with a particular
> section of Ian's spec, then do they need to create a whole now spec or
> just create an alternative version of a section of the spec?
> Creating a whole new spec sounds impractical and unnecessary to me.

What currently is Ian's spec is in flux.  Sections will be spun out over 
time.  Potentially new sections will be added (though at this point, 
that should occur much less frequently than being spun out).  For that 
reason, I'm primarily concerned about the content not the container.

I'll also add that the current document is made available under a 
license that allows for reuse.  It is quite possible to take the current 
document, add or remove sections, and produce a new document.  Rob Sayre 
did exactly that in February:


My experience is that the people who produce such documents will eagerly 
help anyone who wishes to do such a thing -- even if they significantly 
disagree with the direction such a person would like to take the 
document.  If anybody sees evidence that this is not the case, I would 
like to know and will do what I can to address the issue.

> If it is just a section, what is (will be) the process for deciding
> between the section in Ians spec and an alternative.

At the moment, that question is hypothetical as nobody has come forward 
with such a section.  At a minimum there will be an opportunity for 
somebody to step forward and merge that section into Ian's document and 
ask that such a document be considered side by side with Ian's when we 
are looking to advance Ian's document to last call.

> I ask this as I have previously spent time on alternatives not found
> there to be any process for dealing with them other than Ian reviewing
> them.

As long as I have been co-chair, there has always been the possibility 
of producing a competing draft.  Rob's draft and Mike's H:TML documents 
are instance proofs of that being an option.

> Also in the case of the issues of canvas accessibility, while I have
> put forward some ideas about it [2], I don't have the technical
> knowledge (I am no expert)  to develop and adequate specification. But
> I do not think that because no one who is capable will step up to
> write a spec, it means that the issues should not be dealt with.

I think we have already agreed on this point:


- Sam Ruby

> [1] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/actions/126
> [2] http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/?p=362
> regards
> steve
> 2009/6/25 Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>:
>> Steven Faulkner wrote:
>>> Hi Ian,
>>> you wrote:
>>> <Hixie> annevk2: that's not the path of least resistance; i, for one,
>>> would object strongly to that solution as it has been shown to
>>> actually harm users [1]
>>> While i think the summary attribute has
>>> 1. been abused
>>> 2. been incorrectly used
>>> 3. been a unecessary time sink  for all involved in its presence or
>>> lack of in HTML 5.
>>> 4. been concentrated on at the expense of other more important
>>> accessibility issues.
>>> I don't know of any evidence where it has been shown to "harm users"
>>> you wrote:
>>> <Hixie> i guess i wish the chairs would at least give some guidance on
>>> how to proceed
>>> agreed, if this would have occured 6 months or a year ago, then a lot
>>> less time and effort would have been wasted.
>> Steven, the last time I tried to answer this, you stated that my response on
>> obfuscates the issue for you[1].  I'll try again, but if I'm not successful,
>> I'll need more to go on in order to be more helpful.
>> I'll try to paint a complete picture, which means that I need to start from
>> the beginning.  Bear with me.  Meanwhile, while I don't doubt that there
>> will be cases in the future where Ian will need to be overruled, at the
>> present time I don't see summary as being one of those cases.  If people
>> really want to put this to a vote, I'll accommodate, but I will need some
>> help in formulating the question.  Longer answer follows:
>>  - - -
>> Ian volunteers to author a document.  There are limits on what you can ask
>> any volunteer to do.  My first six months as co-chair, I've focused on
>> removing obstacles which may have been preventing more people from
>> volunteering.  The next six months I intend to be spending more of my time
>> supporting those that actually chose to do so.
>> If this means more specifications each purporting to be HTML 5 with a
>> survival of the fittest determining which one advances, I'm OK with that.
>>  Better would be more documents with clear divisions of labor. Best would be
>> cooperation.
>> No, I am not singling out any one individual as not-being cooperative, there
>> is something that everybody needs to work on.  That includes me. That
>> includes you.  That includes Ian.  That includes Chris Wilson, an innocent
>> victim in this particular discussion, just one that I happen to think would
>> be fun to pick on at this particular point in time.
>> I am totally sympathetic to the notion that the case has not yet been made
>> for a summary attribute.  What I have heard to date leads me to believe that
>> the long term goal is to replace this attribute.  Meanwhile those that
>> advocate its "reinstatement" are "disinclined to reinvent this particular
>> wheel at this particular time."[2]
>> A much more tenable position would be for somebody to step forward and do
>> this work, and to argue that the summary attribute be listed in section 12.3
>> as vestigial markup.  If that work were done, I personally doubt that a vote
>> would be necessary, but if it came to that, I would vote for it.  At the
>> present time, I personally would vote against anything that simply suggested
>> that summary be "reinstated" unless I felt that those advocating such had a
>> firm conviction such an approach was the right long term solution.
>> Meanwhile, Shelley has stepped forward and volunteered to edit both this
>> section and the section on semantic metadata.  Mike Smith has indicated[3]
>> that he is ready to set her up with write access to the document repository
>> to the group.
>>  - - -
>> In summary, the path I suggest is to find somebody who is willing to be an
>> editor and make your case.  That could be Ian.  That could be Shelley.  That
>> could be you.  If we end up with multiple competing documents at the time we
>> wish to enter Last Call, the document with the greatest amount of consensus
>> will be the one that advances.
>> If any of this is in any way unclear, please let me know.
>> - Sam Ruby
>> [1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2009Jun/0120.html
>> [2] http://www.mail-archive.com/www-archive@w3.org/msg02575.html
>> [3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0654.html
Received on Thursday, 25 June 2009 15:51:02 UTC

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