W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > December 2007

Re: FW: Participating in public forums only

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2007 22:48:46 +0000 (UTC)
To: Alex Mogilevsky <alexmog@exchange.microsoft.com>
Cc: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0712162221060.14160@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Sun, 16 Dec 2007, Alex Mogilevsky wrote:
> 
> I want to say though that whatever makes CSSWG inefficient is not action 
> of its members but their inaction. There is just not enough experts 
> actually editing CSS3 documents, and there is not enough discussion that 
> bring significant amount of new functionality to a level that would be 
> implementable, consistent and at least as specific as CSS2.1.

While that is certainly true, I don't think it's the main problem with the 
CSS working group. I wrote a blog entry six months ago about this [1].

I used to be one of the most active and prolific members of the group. A 
few years ago I basically decided to stop being active. My decision 
resulted directly from the way the group is run. The working group doesn't 
have the right attitude:

 * Editors are not given the final say; instead, once the bulk of a 
   specification is written, the working group argues over irrelevant 
   issues for months, with the resulting series of compromises being more 
   based on who gets bored of arguing last rather than who has the 
   strongest techncial argument. Depending on who is present in meetings 
   from week to week, the architecture of the spec can be pulled in one 
   direction or another, and eventually the spec loses all of its 
   integrity. This would be easily solved by giving editors exclusive and 
   binding ownership over their specs, relying on editors to take all 
   feedback into account, the same way that the WebAPI and Web App Formats 
   groups have done with many of their specs.

 * The group relies on "expert positions" without doing real research. The 
   group expects feedback to come to the group instead of going out and 
   reaching for it. The group bases many of its decisions on anecdotal 
   evidence instead of doign studies of actual author usage patterns.

 * The group spends months discussing features that are blatently designed 
   to slow down the group or to promote corporate interests over end 
   users', even when the majority of the group has expressed clear 
   opinions on how the work is not appropriate for the Web.

 * The group doesn't have the vision to address real user needs. For 
   example, Apple's recent proposal on animations has barely been 
   discussed, much less understood, by many of the group's members.

 * The group relies more on synchronous communication (telecons, 
   face-to-face meetings) than it should. I believe high-quality specs 
   come from careful consideration of logical and technical arguments, 
   which are much easier to express and manage in written form. (The HTML 
   working group's model of having one open face to face meeting per year, 
   run as an unconference, is pobably best.)

 * The group still doesn't understand openness. [2]

For all of these reasons I support David's decision to leave the secret
mailing list. I believe that many of the above problems would get resolved 
by adopting an editor-centric model completely in public. It's likely that 
we would have more editors if the group was actually run that way, too.

-- References --
[1] http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1181118077&count=1
[2] http://disruptive-innovations.com/zoo/slides/20071107-TPAC2007/IanHickson.txt

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Sunday, 16 December 2007 22:49:42 GMT

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