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Re: Fw: CfC: Close ISSUE-177: ietf-id-wip by Amicable Resolution

From: Bjoern Hoehrmann <derhoermi@gmx.net>
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 05:39:40 +0100
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Cc: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <uqm3i7tvd8vii4ug5mbi2av4vmqjf5c78t@hive.bjoern.hoehrmann.de>
* Larry Masinter wrote:
>is that just a matter of taste with no substance?

It's an established convention with broad consensus but the HTML Working
Group is running an experiment to see which conventions it can abolish.

It should be a matter of course that the HTML Working Group coordinates
new CSS features with the CSS Working Group, yet the CSS Working Group
had to file a Last Call comment saying:

  In the future, rather than defining CSS extensions in a vacuum, please
  contact the CSSWG with your requirements and allow us to work together
  to define appropriate solutions and coordinate them with other work of
  the CSSWG.
    -- http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-comments/2011Aug/0034

The other day on this list we discussed the HTML Working Group adding a
convention for URI scheme names after Last Call and not trying to tell
the IETF Working Group working on URI scheme guidelines about it; the
HTML Working Group has not, as far as I can tell, submitted the Internet
media types it proposes to the ietf-types mailing list for review as it
should have when entering Last Call.

The HTML Working Group has a written-down charter that tells it to co-
ordinate with the CSS Working Group, just as the W3C has a written-down
policy on how Working Groups should register media types, just as the
IETF has a written-down policy that its drafts should only be cited as
work in progress. But why bother?

Well, in case of citations, there are ethical standards around them, and
some societies find them important enough to put into law and call them
"moral rights". Consider this example:

  Back in 2009 Max Mustermann published this report on his web site. But
  look, the report says X which is wrong, Y and that's wrong aswell, Z
  is another error. Lesson: Don't trust Max Mustermann's publications!

versus

  Back in 2009 Max Mustermann published a draft of a report on his web
  site. It had some errors, but he corrected them in later drafts and
  the final report seems flawless. Lesson: drafts may contain errors.

Writing the former when the report was clearly marked "draft" with a re-
quest to cite it only as work in progress seems a "derogatory action in
relation to the [...] work, which would be prejudicial to the author's
honor or reputation" to me, and not objecting to such behavior is bad as
authors would be more reluctant to publish drafts if errors in them can
damage their reputation just as much as errors in finalized publications
and society approves of that.

  A: Firefox Beta crashes a lot.
  B: Yeah, but I am sure the release will be better.

versus

  A: Firefox crashes a lot.
  B: Then I better use a different browser.

It's a simple widely accepted convention to reference works properly and
citing works in progress as works in progress is about as simple as it
gets, especially when explicitly requested. The HTML Working Group could
simply accept this, but no, it wants us burn resources discussing if the
particular case of the HTML specification it is working on is special e-
nough to merit an exception to satisfy its "taste". Much as it wants the
CSS Working Group to burn resources writing Last Call comments saying
that the HTML WG should coordinate new CSS features with the CSS WG.

Engaging in behavior for which, we have to assume, there is a consensus
in the Internet community that the behavior is inappropriate is not some
"serial comma: love it or hate it"-like issue; why would the IETF put it
at the top of every Internet-Draft if they were prepared to say "Oh, we
did not know there are other tastes, so never mind us and ignore that"?

The HTML Working Group knows full well, when it succeeds in doing things
besides the norm it will give others reason to do the same and if others
do, there would be what Georg Jellinek called "Die normative Kraft des
Faktischen", norms that are ignored cease to be norms. If people do not
distinguish between citations of works that are in progress and works
that have been finalized, especially when explicitly requested, then it
becomes meaningless to request or otherwise expect such a distinction.

Meaning it was trivially predictable that this issue would come up and
would not be seen as akin to a mere preference among widely used capi-
talization schemes. The specific color scheme used for certain elements
in a draft surely is an editorial matter and arguing much about it is a
waste of time? Well, only within certain limits, we would expect people
choosing among colour schemes to know about contrast and colour blind-
ness, what is generally considered a good colour scheme and expect them
to choose a good one; if they can't or don't then we don't accept any
argumentum ad verecundiam from them on the matter, they would not be an
authority and should not be treated as such.

The idea behind editorial discretion is that editors are authorities,
people we can trust to make good decisions so others do not have to be
involved in making them. Should I use citation style A or style B? Well,
style A is what everybody else is using and what is explictly requested,
it's unlikely that anybody would complain with a good argument about me
doing what everybody else does, so unless there is a very good reason to
pick a different style, I will use style A to avoid getting the rest of
the Working Group involved with this decision; if there is a very good
reason, I will explain it to the Working Group when making the decision,
so they are prepared for and would willingly engage in any discussion
that might result from the decision (or would disagree with me and so I
would defer to the group's judgement, to avoid drama the group does not
want to engage in).

Long story short, "Do this!", "No, we won't!" is asking for trouble, as
everyone you would let walk out of the door alone would recognize, so do
not complain about the trouble without an excessively good argument that
is suitable to change people's minds. And "this is editorial" is not an
argument suitable to resolve a conflict, you would have to explain how
it is editorial, meaning an argumentum ad verecundiam, why the editor
can be trusted to make a good decision on the matter. If you can't make
a good argument in that direction, you have to explain why the editor
has made a good decision, and that is entirely absent in the discussion.
-- 
Björn Höhrmann · mailto:bjoern@hoehrmann.de · http://bjoern.hoehrmann.de
Am Badedeich 7 · Telefon: +49(0)160/4415681 · http://www.bjoernsworld.de
25899 Dagebüll · PGP Pub. KeyID: 0xA4357E78 · http://www.websitedev.de/ 
Received on Friday, 27 January 2012 04:39:51 GMT

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