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RE: Formal Recorded Complaint

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 12:54:27 -0700
To: "'Dan Connolly'" <connolly@w3.org>
Cc: <steve@w3.org>, <timbl@w3.org>, <jbrewer@w3.org>, "'wai-ig list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <public-html@w3.org>, <www-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <009a01c7d2e3$7406f290$6e8e40ab@Piglet>

Dan Connolly wrote:
> 
> John, your complaint is acknowledged.

Thank You.

> 
> It's not entirely clear to me which technical topic, if any, prompted
> the unfortunate exchange that you're complaining about, but perhaps
> it is related to the disputed design principle(s) of "Visible
> Metadata vs. Metadata Anywhere" 
> http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/ProposedDesignPrinciples    


Actually, the issue at hand is less technical and more in addressing a
question of attitude and respect, specifically in regard to comments made
and recorded in the IRC logs of this group.  The WAI_IG mailing list has
been extremely slow in July, and a very quick perusal of the entire archive
will quickly bring you to the crux of the matter: I suggest you start with
"Posted without comment" (which in itself is a damning comment).

Amongst the responses were the following comments:

"This section is frankly kind of amazing. In several fell swoops the
entire efforts of the accessibility people on the list are dismissed as
almost Pavlovian responses and then an absurd dialogue about
smell-o-vision ensues. This is trivializing the efforts of people here
who are concerned about the needs of people with disabilities."
 - Joshue O Connor - NCBI (National Council for the Blind Ireland)

"Which was depressing reading. It shows there is still a serious disconnect

between some of the people who, having worked in the WHAT-WG and then the  
HTML group for some time, have a relatively high degree of influence over  
the HTML group, and people who really understand and work with practical  
accessibility problems."
 - Charles McCathieNevile - Opera Software

"More amazing to these fingertips is that this became publicly
disclosed, surfaced today, July 26, 2007, the 17th Anniversary of the
ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act..
Obviously a long, long way to go before those who seek universal
access for *ALL* are not publicly ridiculed by others.."
 - Cindy Sue Causey - Georgia Voices That Count

"...Although I haven't been terribly vocal, I've read at least 
75% of the posts to the listserv, and the lack of tolerance or 
civility, the disregard and disrespect of the need for accessibility, 
and the insistence on "paving the cowpaths" no matter how wrong those 
cowpaths are sometimes seems to overshadow all of the gains web 
development advocates have made for semantic markup..."
 - Debi Orton

(I also received a number of private emails supporting my initial -
admittedly rude - response; a response I am not proud of, but one that might
serve to illustrate the anger that *I* felt upon my initial reading of the
IRC Logs)

I think you get the general thrust.  This apparent indifference and
dismissive attitude has myself (and apparently others) concerned and
frustrated.  This is not about "playing within the same rules", this is not
about "technical rigor and demonstrable benefit", this is very simply about
respect.  It's about attitude.

As I have mentioned previously, many of the advocates that frequent the
WAI_IG list may lack some of the higher technical savvy that allows them to
contribute to writing a technical specification - the Working Group must
acknowledge this.  But more importantly, snide and silly comments (which can
be construed as demeaning and offensive - and please, I was *NOT* the only
one offended) can not, and should not be tolerated.  While it might seem
simple to paint the exchange as a legitimate discussion (which at least one
member of the exchange has attempted), the entire tone leaves more than one
reader with an entirely different perspective - it was, frankly, offensive
to many.

The frustration which prompted me to register a "Formal Complaint" rests as
well with the fact that this has been an ongoing dynamic for some time.  As
far back as May of 2007, there have been such heated exchanges between the
Working Group and the Accessibility Community that even you were prompted to
ask all to "Take the rest of the week off - Really"
[http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007May/0941.html]  Three
months later there is still a perception of antagonism and distrust that
must be addressed.  I am sure that many within the working group feel that
they *do* respect and understand the issues, but sadly, this is not apparent
to many on the outside, especially in light of these types of glib comments.

There is nothing more to be said.  I have formally expressed my anger,
frustration and disappointment.  Collectively we must all move forward.  I
will publicly apologize for my initial rudeness in the "Posted without
comment" thread, and I will continue to monitor the advances made to HTML5,
and the work of the people contributing to it.  As I mentioned in my initial
note, I do not have the answers.  However I believe Chaals is certainly
correct when he wrote:

"At the moment it is depressing to be involved in this stuff. Maybe we can  
lift the level of dialogue, respect, trust, and genuine cooperation to the  
point where this work becomes useful, instead of just sucking time and  
resources. Because it is important."   

JF
Received on Monday, 30 July 2007 19:55:08 GMT

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