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Re: review process [was: identify...]

From: Murray Altheim <altheim@eng.sun.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 15:24:04 -0800
Message-ID: <38AC8314.8EDCDE95@eng.sun.com>
To: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
CC: www-html@w3.org
Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
> Murray Altheim wrote:
[...]
> I think you are trying to make the process sound absurd in talking 
> about the "whole world".  

I think perhaps you've missed part of this discussion. The problem I'm
having with Dan's approach (which on its face is absurd) is that I'm 
quoting *his* use of the phrase "whole world" [0382]:
> I believe it refers to consensus among whatever community is asked
> to review a spec; in the case of last call, that's the whole world.

To which I have repeatedly responded, quite correctly:
> > [...] The W3C does *not* seek public consensus on its
> > specifications, for better or worse.
> 
> The W3C does seek consensus for its specifications, including public input.
> It does also have ways of ensuring that the process terminates and is not
> attacked by "denial of service" attacks for example.

Dan has been making the claim that the public has the same right to 
consensus-building as W3C members, which is patently false. The W3C 
is unlike the IETF in that while it may solicit public input (as you
say) it is under no obligation to form public consensus on issues,
as I have said, for better or worse. Worse in that consensus is only
among vendor members (although this is comprised of many experts from
around the world), but better in that the process is much quicker,
as both you as Director and the W3C WG chairs can simply declare 
'consensus' at whatever point you deem appropriate, regardless of 
true consensus. It's not as egalitarian as the IETF, and pragmatically
this has both its benefits and its drawbacks.
 
Dan wrote [0121]:
> As with anybody else, the WG's obligation to me is to
>       -- convince me to withdraw
>       -- accept my suggestion, or
>       -- escalate the issue

Dan is (a) pretending to be a member of the public ('as with anybody
else') and not a W3C staff member, and (b) implying that any member of 
the public can stand in the way of a specification's forward movement by 
simply making a comment and refusing to budge, or filibustering. He 
claims he must be convinced to withdraw, the WG must accept his position,
or the issue must be escalated. He forgets the fourth option: the issue
is discussed within the WG and proper fora within the W3C, and a decision
is made. The HTML WG has already discussed this issue ad nauseum and 
believes the current status is the best course.

We (a) wish to continue using public identifiers for XHTML DTDs, and 
(b) believe that since the W3C has not endorsed use of SGML Open catalogs
nor provided an alternative indirection mechanism, use of absolute URLs
(let's be clear: these are not URNs) within DTDs with no allowance for
modification to local needs is problematic and would cause all XHTML 
documents to attempt to locate the XHTML DTDs on the W3C site, which
might very well cause a 'denial-of-service' problem, and more importantly
also disallows the real users of the DTD to use them effectively in local
environs. The HTML WG has rightly decided to use relative URLs for system
identifiers, and allowed these to be altered to suit local environments.
We reserve the public identifier as the canonical identifier for the DTD,
as has been done in every other HTML DTD and indeed in most SGML and XML
DTDs I've ever seen. 

If there were a completely functional URN system in place plus a W3C- 
endorsed indirection mechanism, I don't think we'd have a problem with
simply using a URN system identifier. But this is not the case.

But this seems to be more an issue about process and the scope of 
required consensus, doesn't it?

Murray

[0382] "Re: XHTML Basic: identify XHTML DTD by URI, not by FPI (PR#185)"
  Dan Connolly on w3c-html-wg@w3.org, Fri, Feb 11 2000
  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-html-wg/2000JanMar/0382.html
[0121] "Re: identify XHTML DTD by URI, not by FPI"
  Dan Connolly on www-html@w3.org, Thu, Feb 17 2000
  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-html/2000Feb/0121.html
...........................................................................
Murray Altheim, SGML Grease Monkey         <mailto:altheim&#64;eng.sun.com>
XML Technology Center
Sun Microsystems, 1601 Willow Rd., MS UMPK17-102, Menlo Park, CA 94025

   the honey bee is sad and cross and wicked as a weasel
   and when she perches on you boss she leaves a little measle -- archy
Received on Thursday, 17 February 2000 18:22:53 GMT

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