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RE: disposition of ISSUE 30 cited in bug 10967 insufficient

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 19:58:48 -0800 (PST)
To: "'Sam Ruby'" <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Cc: "'Gregory J. Rosmaita'" <oedipus@hicom.net>, <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, <janina@rednote.net>, <mike@w3.org>, <mjs@apple.com>
Message-ID: <01b001cb910c$0eba0c20$2c2e2460$@edu>
Sam Ruby wrote:
> Short answer: I feel that there is enough here to merit consideration
> by
> the wider working group.  My co-chairs will also need to have an
> opportunity to weigh in on this.
> Now for a longer answer: the primary role of the Chairs is to ensure
> that groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor
> to resolve them.  You ask a number of legitimate questions below, but
> are directing them at the wrong parties.

First, thank you Sam for your response.

I am directing the questions to you in response to points that you, on 
behalf of the Chairs, made and continue to assert. The concern held by many 
of us is that no matter how much we bring forth, it will be challenged and 
deemed "not enough". The criteria's you have laid out are all subjective, 
and so of course there will be those that will argue that the bar is either 
too high or not high enough. While I appreciate that the chairs do not 
relish the role of King Solomon this is in fact where we are at today. 
Somebody needs to set the bar, and it seems that this is the role of the 

> Put another way: under no circumstances will the Chairs allow the
> Working Group to be factored out of Working Group decisions.

It occurs to me that the only way that this would happen is if, despite 
renewed discussion, some form of long description mechanism does not emerge 
that satisfies the needs requirements that Gregory has brought forward. At 
that point, the current Formal Objection and likely others (I've been 
working on one in the wings myself if required) will still stand, at which 
point the decision is removed from the Working Group and lands on the 
Director's desk; subsequently it would be out of the hands of both the WG 
and the Chairs.

It also occurs to me that this is a last resort option, but one that is both 
available and in fact already in place with Leif's existing Formal 
Objection. So with these facts before us, it seems that it would benefit the 
Chairs to make the next move. Potential next steps seem to be:

* Given the known history to date, Re-open Issue 30 (@longdesc) and request 
the further data that has been referenced in this and other current threads 
be brought forward (although much of it is readily available now at a 
private URL hosted by Laura Carlson (given that the W3C Wiki page was locked 
down due to contention)
* Revisit the rash of "WONTFIX" decisions that were made today and find one 
to focus continued discussion around, and reverse the bug status.
* Open a new Issue
* (open to further options)

> I will state that I expect every bit of evidence presented below to be
> challenged, and I expect that evidence and suggestions will be provided
> which leads to a different conclusion.  Without hearing that evidence,
> I will not commit to an answer.

Fair enough, although the 'evidence' collected can hardly be disputed as it 
is all factual and backed with URLs...we've been diligently working on this 
(with a huge tip of the hat to Laura for shepherding it all). I again 
suggest that the only reason why some WG members might come to different 
conclusions is that some of the judgment criteria is undefined with any kind 
of metric.

What is more important - quality or quantity?

How fast is Rapid?

How do you propose growth to be measured? (for example, I've already noted 
that 2 very popular authoring frameworks, Drupal and WordPress, can now 
support longdesc. Does that mean +2, or does that mean that if 5,000+ 
websites move to Drupal 7 in the next 2 months that the growth = 5,000+? Or 
is a percentage of those 5,000+ that actually avail themselves of this new 
feature? And how is that measured? Or do we accept as fact that having 
Drupal 7 support @longdesc is 'important' growth and leave it at that?)

Without defined targets and common ground we will just continue to spin our 
wheels here - something I believe that the Chairs both understand and wish 
to avoid.

> I will also repeat my concern that should the evidence provided end up
> falling short,

And here-in lies the rub. Who and what determines "falling short"? At least 
one member of the Working Group has been conducting a running skirmish 
against @longdesc advocates both prior to and after the August 2010 decision 
(I won't name names, but I suspect we all know who I am referring to - see 
my reference to the W3C wiki above) - I'm sure that a tractor-trailer-load 
of evidence parked on his front lawn would still be insufficient, whereas 
others (like me) feel that we've done everything we've been asked of to date 
to rescue and reverse this decision. If we have not collected enough data 
(as determined by...???) then we will continue to patiently build up the 
war-chest, until such time as we have "enough" or the clock runs out and the 
Formal Objection stands.

How much more is "enough"?

> the chairs will likely be looking for something
> substantially more evidence to be provided before we even consider
> reopening the discussion yet again.  That's why I counsel patience.

And for the most part the collection of more data has been both quiet and 
patient. But when you suggest terms like "substantially" in your response it 
continually suggests that there is a 'volume' issue here that must be 
addressed. If this is not the case then what is 'substantial' exactly?

> Given these factors, I encourage those on this list to coordinate in
> order to determine when they would like to proceed with a discussion on
> public-html.

Many of us who are concerned on this topic *have* been in loose 
coordination, both on W3C lists and off-list as well. I do not speak for any 
of those other participants, but we have been talking. I for one am now 
coming to the Chairs and asking if we have enough to proceed, but to answer 
that questions, (once again) 'enough' needs to be defined.

Meanwhile Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> I agree with Sam, particularly with respect to the following points:
> 1) The Chairs will decide whether new information is sufficient to
> reopen an issue after that information has been presented to and
> discussed by the HTML WG. Other WG members may have different standards
> of what they consider sufficient to reconsider the issue, or may have
> different interpretations of the data. We will not precommit to a
> quantitative threshold of information that is definitely enough to
> reopen the issue, since it is in part a matter of how HTML WG members
> view the information provided.

This is very discouraging to read, as it now suggests that it's a numbers 
game in reverse: if one/some/many feel that the efforts to collect data by 
those of us concerned is insufficient, it will provide a means of further 
burying any chance of re-visiting the issue; what incentive is there for us 
to try and discuss this further if we're simply going to be drowned out by 
numbers? We may as well just say "to heck with you, we're going over your 
heads to the Director with our evidence".

This is not an attempt to hold a coup, but at some point it becomes a 
question of leadership; if the Chairs feel that we've got enough evidence to 
re-open the discussion, then it must stand that no-one else can use the 
quantity argument against those of us who wish to proceed. The discussion 
must be merit based, not numbers based - if what we have collected to date 
is sufficient to the Chairs to re-open the discussion, then this must stand 
as an accepted fact outside of further debate.

> 2) The information gathered so far seems reasonable to present to the
> WG now, should the parties collecting it deem it appropriate to do so.

I cannot and do not speak for others, so I cannot comment further at this 

> 3) If this batch of information does not turn out to be sufficient to
> reopen the issue, or is sufficient to reopen, but after full
> consideration the decision is the same, then the threshold next time to
> even discuss potential new information on this issue will be
> significantly higher.

This has been made abundantly clear, however the determination of sufficient 
remains the open question.

Perhaps I am getting caught up in the definition of sufficient, and if that 
is the case then likely others will as well.

What I am sort-of hearing is that perhaps what is being said is not 
'sufficient' in quantity, but sufficient in merit.  If this is the case then 
a clear statement of accord from the Chairs on this point would be 

> One goal of the decision process is to achieve
> closure on issues, and not have the same issues crop up over and over
> again. So it would be wise to be very confident of the new information
> to be presented before proceeding, because it is not likely there will
> be another chance.

Maciej, one thing I've learned long ago is to never say never. As noted 
earlier, there is already a Formal Objection in play, with potentially 
others to follow, so even once the WG is 'completed' it's work, if no 
forward movement has been made here then there remains the decision of the 

I believe no-one really wants to go down that route, least of all the 
Director, and so I at least am approaching this with hope, tempered with 

Received on Wednesday, 1 December 2010 03:59:28 UTC

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