Re: Web forms considered harmful (to learning the shape of the question).

From: Jim Pitkow (pitkow@parc.xerox.com)
Date: Tue, May 18 1999


Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 22:30:22 PDT
To: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, chairs@w3.org
From: Jim Pitkow <pitkow@parc.xerox.com>
Cc: www-wca@w3.org
Message-Id: <99May17.223101pdt."363208"@louise.parc.xerox.com>
Subject: Re: Web forms considered harmful (to learning the shape of the     question).


Al,

  Thanks for the feedback.  I've forwarded them over to Henrik Frystyk
Nielsen whose overseeing the development of the issue/question tracking
system. 

Jim.


At 08:41 AM 5/17/99 , Al Gilman wrote:
>At 06:07 PM 4/13/99 -0700, Jim Pitkow wrote:
>>
>>                                               ...  The WCA is requesting
>>each WG with characterization issues submit a set of questions by May 15,
>>1999.  
>>
>>   We are in the process of setting up a Web-based submission form to
>>facilitate letting us know your groups set of questions. 
>
>Why a Web form?  It's a truly _wrong_ tool for the right job.
>
>The question you are posing is "Define the domain where you would like our
>assistance accumulating knowledge."  Web forms are a bad fit to this
>question, to a serious degree.
>
>The semantic class of the desired input is a query; it is a statement of
>the form "we want to know about FOO, where FOO is defined by {assertions}."
> One potentially effective representation for this meta-characterization -
>the articulation of what is and is not known about [foo] - is a schema.
>This defines the question by asserted a web of relationships between known
>things and unknown things.
>
>An example of an application of Web technology which would be significantly
>more appropriate for this question-gathering exercise would be a template
>document in least common denominator HTML.  The template should be a
>scenario template such as those one would use in a User-Centered
>Requirements process as articulated by Karan Harbison
><http://www.erlbaum.com/2454.htm>.    The ability to make connections by
>document structure and by citing URIs in the submission is critical to what
>the inputter has to convey - the shape of the question.  
>
>Web forms are carefully designed for applications where you want to get
>multiple people to respond under the constraints of an unchanging shape of
>the question.  In the present case, it is precisely the shape of the
>question that you _want the respondent to control_.  If one wants to
>constrain inputs in this case, it is a language or schema for structure
>building that one should impose as the constraint, and not a set structure.
>
>Al
>