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Re: not closed by process rules [was: So, what's left?]

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 00:28:11 -0600
Message-ID: <388E93FB.23C76BF8@w3.org>
To: Walter Ian Kaye <walter@natural-innovations.com>
CC: www-html@w3.org
Walter Ian Kaye wrote:
> At 10:12p -0600 01/25/00, Dan Connolly wrote:
> >The HTML WG could be rechartered to have public proceedings at any
> >time, if we thought we could get the engineers from member companies
> >to participate under those conditions.
> Why would they not want to?

Hmm... some of the early excuses had to do with SEC rules and quiet
periods before IPO. Other reasons include: being able to discuss issues
without worrying about reporters watching. I think folks have
said they like to be able to discuss things like product
schedules with some degree of confidentiality.

And other folks just don't want to risk a flood of mail in their inbox
from people they don't know.

In general, we actively manage participation in W3C working groups:
we generally require folks to spend about a day a week on working group
And we meet by phone roughly weekly, and face-to-face roughly quarterly.
This creates an atmosphere where folks know each other by first name and
face, and folks who aren't pulling their weight or drift off are

That's very different from public mailing lists in general. Public
mailing lists can be actively managed, but it's a challenge that
takes a *lot* of time and effort to meet. W3C would probably have
to cut the number of working groups by 2/3rds to manage the extra
work (my rough guess). While some folks have seen W3C at work
long enough to know that we could perhaps do fewer things better,
the overwhelming input we get is that yes, the technical work
W3C does is really pretty good, and please do more of it, especially
this little bit in my technology area please.

On the other hand, I'm here spending time explaining how and why we
do it this way, and we already observed that there's a lot of
of discussions with this arrangement.

So maybe it would be more efficient to have more open working groups.
We *are* using the flexibility of the W3C process
to experiment with different configurations. Witness
the joint W3C/IETF working group on XML digital signatures:

One risk in that sort of situation is: the real discussion just
migrates off the public list, and is delivered to the WG as
a done deal, after a critical mass of participants has already
bought into it. When W3C is compared to the IETF by folks that
have seen both operations in action over a period of time,
they note that in some cases, more of the real work is
"on the record" in W3C than in the IETF, though the IETF
official proceedings are all available to the public rather
than just the W3C membership.

In my experience, I don't see that either process is clearly superior or
guarantees anything -- the individuals involved (chairs, editors, IESG,
implementors etc.) and the market dynamics have a lot more influence
the process rules.

> If they don't care about the consumer's needs, then why should we use
> their products? That's the way I see it.

The sad fact is that most of their consumers don't pay attention at
this level; they just pay attention to commercials/press mentions/etc.

Hmm... maybe that's more of a cynical observation than a fact.
Maybe it's not necessarily true.

Here's hoping...

> -Walter
>   blatantly blunt :)

Dan Connolly
Received on Wednesday, 26 January 2000 01:33:37 UTC

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