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RE: Forums

From: Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2012 21:53:39 +0000
To: "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <3C4041FF83E1E04A986B6DC50F017829033FA91E@TK5EX14MBXC296.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
[Matthew Wilcox:] 
> @Sylvain
> 
> My apologies - that was an assumption I should not have made. With that
> said, your numbers do not prove that more people have been participating,
> they prove that more posts have been made.

Are you suggesting the same number of people send 80% more mail now that they
did then? Assuming that were the case I still don't see how it'd prove the place
is dying out. Looking at the slower month of the year (August) I see posts from 81
people in '11. In 2008, there were 62. The difference is larger in other months:
in January 2011 99 people were active; 3 years earlier there were 67 for
an increase of nearly 50%. Which jibes with my own daily experience here:
the number of people regularly posting from each browser vendor has steadily
increased. The number of independent experts participating on the mailing list 
and invited as experts on the WG has also gone up. Not so long ago attending the 
face-to-face meeting at TPAC could easily introduce you to a majority of the active 
posters on this list. That hasn't been true for some time. Every indicator of 
participation I can think of for this WG is up. 

Dying out is not a problem for this mailing list or the CSS WG today. Scaling up to 
all the work, members and community interests - from EPUB to speech through major 
proposals such as Variables - without leaving major existing pieces like the CSSOM 
fall behind is our biggest challenge (and it's a good problem to have, frankly). 
It'd be great if it could just be solved by increasing the raw number of www-style 
subscribers; I doubt it's that simple.


> 
> @ all
> 
> What we are trying to fix is the user friendliness of the system, and the
> public facing aspect of the group. Right now, for non-members, it is
> incredibly painful trying to find out anything that the group has been
> discussing because of the poor way in which the conversations are exposed
> online. It's also off-putting from most web designers to have to go
> through the list process to join.
> 
> To put my "being questionably generalist" hat on again - I expect that
> using these archaic communication methods attracts a certain type of
> person and puts off another. Sadly I think it's the designer types that
> get put off, and yet it is those people for whom we are making CSS.
> Engineer types and/or network enthusiasts seem less put off.

There are two broad levels of involvement: reading and posting. For reading, 
yes, a better interface than the antiquated Hypermail would be great and it 
seems there already is one out there. A modern searchable archive is a benefit 
to everyone who uses CSS or implements it ; I don't think that was ever denied 
by anyone here.

In terms of posting, I've talked to a number of designers I'd like to see
involved and interface never came up as a significant obstacle. The time 
needed to really keep up with the high and increasing volume of very technical
posts, the even higher commitment required to research and draft a sound 
proposal, achieving and maintaining traction, processing feedback, even just 
providing actionable feedback to others by writing testcases: all the 
things required to make an impact on a group of people who are largely *paid* 
to implement CSS for a living is quite daunting for any busy professional. 
Time is the single biggest barrier to entry to this 'club': the time 
to acquire and maintain the knowledge required to sustain meaningful contribution 
- standard *users* are imo no more likely to be gifted at building standards than 
CSS implementors are at making web sites, though those who can do both have a real edge - 
as well as the contribution time itself. Never mind the time it can take for your 
successful proposal to ship in browsers! It's a long-term investment. While I love 
to see people making it, it's not just for everyone and I don't believe having a
 fancy responsive web form instead of an email window changes the cost equation in
a measurable way.

I strongly suspect many individuals who cite the mail interface as the reason they
do not participate gave up almost immediately and thus have no sound understanding 
of the level of effort involved in the work done here; which may not correlate well 
with a potential for long-term commitment and investment. Though I'd love to be proven 
wrong we seem to assume there is a significant number of people who would commit many 
high quality work hours every week if only the mailing list interface was web-based. If 
that's true, I will owe you many, many drinks...
Received on Saturday, 7 January 2012 22:12:34 GMT

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