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Re: Formal Recorded Complaint

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 18:06:42 -0400
Message-ID: <46AE60F2.9000507@us.ibm.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
CC: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, 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

Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> On Jul 30, 2007, at 1:21 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
>> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>>> On Jul 30, 2007, at 12:28 PM, Sam Ruby wrote:
>>>> The first thing I would like to point out is that I've seen nobody 
>>>> questioning the competence of anybody who has participated this 
>>>> working group.  Nor are we talking about classing 'troll' behavior 
>>>> here.  We are talking about people who have value to contribute, but 
>>>> seem entirely unable to disagree without being disagreeable.  
>>>> Putting forward a counter argument isn't sufficient for such people, 
>>>> they seem compelled to do so in a manner that shames the person who 
>>>> advanced the other point of view into silence.
>>> While the issue you raise can certainly be a problem, the RFCs you 
>>> linked are not designed to deal with overly heated but valid and 
>>> on-topic discussion. They are designed to deal with outright 
>>> trolling, and the means to address it is banishment from the group. 
>>> Quoting from RFC 3683:
>> permanent banishment from the group should never be the first recourse.
>>> "Notably, in a small number of cases, a participant has engaged in 
>>> what amounts to a 'denial-of-service' attack to disrupt the 
>>> consensus-driven process. Typically, these attacks are made by 
>>> repeatedly posting messages that are off-topic, inflammatory, or 
>>> otherwise counter-productive. In contrast, good faith disagreement is 
>>> a healthy part of the consensus-driven process.
>>> For example, if a working group is unable to reach consensus, this is 
>>> an acceptable, albeit unfortunate, outcome; however, if that working 
>>> group fails to achieve consensus because it is being continuously 
>>> disrupted, then the disruption constitutes an abuse of the 
>>> consensus-driven process. Interactions of this type are fundamentally 
>>> different from 'the lone voice of dissent' in which a participant 
>>> expresses a view that is discussed but does not achieve consensus. In 
>>> other words, individual bad faith should not trump community goodwill."
>> Compare that last paragraph to the email posted by John Foliot on this 
>> very subject not ten minutes before yours.
>> What we have is not a 'lone voice of dissent'.  What we have is a 
>> consistent and persistent pattern of abuse of the consensus-driven 
>> process.
> Actually, that paragraph is saying the 'lone voice of dissent' is the 
> bad case, whereas an ongoing failure of different significant 
> constituencies to achieve consensus is unfortunate but acceptable. And 
> that's what I am seeing here. We have significant groups that disagree 
> on the best way to approach the design of accessibility features.

I've reread and reread that paragraph, and still come to a different 

"disruption constitutes an abuse ... Interactions of this type are 
fundamentally different from 'the lone voice of dissent'"

This paragraph goes out of its way to say that one can responsibly be 
the 'lone voice of dissent', and that any process that values consensus 
should respect your position; it is only those that seek to disrupt a 
consensus driven process by driving out those that disagree that need to 
be dealt with.  The reason for this is simple: it is precisely to enable 
those that wish to champion minority opinions.

Further information on the term: http://tinyurl.com/2pu6lz

> It's important to keep in mind that when people disagree, there are 
> often different perceptions on different sides of the argument, 
> especially in media like email and IRC that don't convey emotional cues 
> very well. What you see as process abuse, others may see as vigorous 
> discussion that ultimately leads to a better spec. Similarly, sometimes 
> individuals may perceive a conversation as a series of unwarranted 
> personal attacks on them, where others may see that individuals remarks 
> as trolling or needlessly disruptive.
> The first recourse in a dispute, ideally, should be for the parties to 
> talk directly to each other. Especially if the event that upset you 
> happened in a non-interactive medium or at a time when you were not 
> present. I hope we all consider this option before kicking problems 
> upstairs.

First, I will note that I'm active on this conversation *precisely* 
because I am not embroiled in the accessibility discussion.

With that out of the way, I will say that if I was the subject of 
persistent ridicule such as I have seen here, the last thing I would 
want to do is subject myself to more of the same.

> And if that step doesn't work, then I think privately asking the chairs 
> for mediation would be a good next step. Broadly general and widely 
> cross-posted complaints are not as likely to make the group's work flow 
> more smoothly. On the contrary, they may make disputing parties feel 
> more defensive and dug into their positions.

mediation would address the specific technical issue, not the persistent 
abusive tone.

> Let's try these kinds of approaches before we even bring up the idea of 
> a process for kicking people out. The responsibility for making this 
> group effective lies with all of us.

That option needs to be extremely rarely used, but needs in place 

> Regards,
> Maciej

- Sam Ruby
Received on Monday, 30 July 2007 22:08:22 UTC

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