Re: Dissatisfaction with HTML WG

Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> Hi Dean,
> On Mon, 24 Dec 2007 17:21:46 +0100, Dean Edridge <> wrote:
>> It's unfortunate that I'm forced to bring this up in public, but 
>> since I have already expressed my concerns regarding this group 
>> privately with: Ian Hickson, Anne van Kesteren, Lachlan Hunt, Mike 
>> Smith, Chris Wilson and Dan Connolly, but with no success and no 
>> change in attitude, I obviously need to mention them again here. I've 
>> also made formal complaints with Mike Smith, Chris Wilson and Dan 
>> Connolly regarding the openness and process of this group but those 
>> have not been acted on. I have no option but to make my concerns 
>> publicly known.
> Hi Dean, all.
> I'm Opera's Chief Standards Officer - silly title but it means that 
> blame for whatever people do in Opera's name in standards ends up on 
> my desk. If you have concerns about particular people from Opera or 
> their actions, feel free to direct them to me directly...

Yes, and if you or any of your staff have problems with me, feel free to 
contact me directly instead of just posting your incorrect and biased 
views here Charles.

>> General concerns regarding the HTML WG and (X)HTML5
>> I'm disappointed to see a lot of anti-XHTML sentiment within the group
> Me too, but not nearly as disapointed as I have been for some years at 
> the failure of Microsoft to accept XHTML in IE, leading to a growth of 
> anti-XHTML sentiment in various parts of the Web development 
> community. I think that this group's composition merely reflects the 
> frustration of the general community.
>> I don't think that the working group and specification is being run 
>> in an objective, democratic and non-biased manner. For example:
>> HTML5 Editor: Ian Hickson (Google)
>> HTML5 Editors assistant: David Hyatt (Apple)
>> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Anne van Kesteren (Opera software)
>> HTML5 Design Principals co-editor: Maciej Stachowiak (Apple)
>> HTMLWG staff contact: Mike Smith (ex Opera software)
>> HTMLWG co-chair: Chris Wilson (Microsoft) (Nice guy, but he did put 
>> his name on the first XHTML spec 8 years ago, then prevented over 6 
>> Billion people from being able to use it.)
> Ian is ex-Opera and ex-Netscape, Dave is ex-Mozilla, Mike is also 
> ex-Openwave. So another way of looking at things is that there is a 
> pretty broad representation of experience from a wide range of 
> browsers at least.

Yes you may look at it that way if your boss is one of the eight 
exclusive members of the WHATWG and so far everything's going your way, 
yes indeed. But when you take a step back, remove your rose tinted 
glasses and see that you are employed by one of the main backers of the 
WHATWG and the WHATWG is in fact running the W3C's HTML WG, you may well 
see it from my point of view and be concerned about the lack of 
democracy within the HTML WG.

I thought that having the WHATWG and the W3C HTML WG work together in 
the (X)HTML5 process meant that both groups would balance each other out 
with their different ranges of experience. But instead we have the 
WHATWG running both groups which means that the W3C HTML WG process has 
been corrupted and become pointless.

>> HTML5 (not so democratic or balanced) author guidelines: Lachlan Hunt 
>> (Opera software) Deliberately published his guide with the W3C logo 
>> even though that day there had been several objections to his loose 
>> choice of formatting within the public-html mailing list.
> Lachlan published a *draft*.

The public don't care if it's a draft or not, people are already linking 
to it and quoting from it.

> I have spent a decade working on stuff at W3C, and Lachlan had spent a 
> few months - there are things that take time to learn about Process, 
> and he is learning. There is also a process of publishing drafts and 
> revising them, which was designed and is continually refined to permit 
> the production of a worthwhile specification. It is the responsibility 
> of the chairs and staff contact to see that this comes to fruition, 
> and of those who contribute to the group to assist in that process.
> (I also think your comment here is an unwarranted and inappropriate 
> insult to Lachlan. 

I think your opinion is biased Charles. Lachlan deliberately posted his 
"guide" when the HTML WG were in the middle of a discussion regarding 
the "HTML/XHTML common syntax" issue. His posting was a deliberate 
attempt to knock my argument down and cancel out the thread that I had 
started. I mentioned "not so democratic" because he did this 
deliberately against the wishes of others within the HTML WG. My comment 
was quite accurate. If Lachlan wants to make a "guide to (X)HTML5" that 
goes against well-known best practises; I suggest that he does this on 
his own website and not under the W3C banner/IP/logo. Web authors find 
it easy enough to adopt bad practises without the W3C encouraging them.

> He put together a first draft, he published it with his preference for 
> examples, and he is well aware that this is subject to group approval 
> before anything is more than a draft. Without a formal decision of the 
> group, it seems reasonable for him to choose a legal syntax in the 
> interim.)

No it doesn't seem reasonable Charles. The legality of that "legal 
syntax" was being debated at the time, it wasn't just a coincidence.

>> The HTMLWG is becoming less and less democratic everyday. It has 
>> become a dictatorship driven by three companies: Google, Apple and 
>> Opera. These companies have there own interest at heart which may or 
>> may not be in the best interest of the open web. Unless one happens 
>> to be an employee (or a friend of an employee) of these companies, 
>> one doesn't seem to have much say in the way that HTML5 and XHTML5 
>> gets developed.
> That strikes me as rubbish. Ben Millard, Lara Carlson and others have 
> made contributions that have been very valuable, despite not being 
> friends of the editors nor even of their respective employers.

Those people are in the group that I mentioned.

>> I have witnessed on many occasions people outside of these 
>> organisations/companies have not had their ideas taken seriously or 
>> added to the spec. I can think of Sam Ruby, Karl Dubost and myself 
>> just to name a few people that have not only had their ideas knocked 
>> down but have been personally mocked, ridiculed and attacked by Ian 
>> Hickson & Co on the IRC channels just because the ideas or decisions 
>> they made did not suit Ian and his group.
> Sure. I have from time to time ridiculed ideas or features in drafts 
> or proposals myself, sometimes in an excessively dismissive way. 
> Unfortunately we're not perfect human beings.
> That said, it is true that the HTML WG has been at times quite 
> adversarial and people have felt unable to contribute, which is a 
> management problem. To some extent that is being addressed, but there 
> is progress that needs to be made still. In particular, the complaints 
> I have fielded relate to people whose level of english, combined with 
> the responsibilities of the rest of their job, do not permit them to 
> even follow some discussions, which will condemn us to go over some 
> things several times.
>> I don't see what the point is in having 1000 or more people involved 
>> in this work if only one person is in control of what gets added to 
>> the spec?
> There is none. But that isn't the case, either. Ian is not a 
> latter-day Messiah saving the Web, he is a person who is contributing 
> his work (on behalf of his employer) to edit a spec on behalf of a group.

Yeah, and if Ian is working on behalf of the group then he needs to put 
aside his own personal views/feelings/opinions. And if I'm wrong here; 
(which I hope I am,) who is actually in charge of deciding what goes 
into the spec? When Ian says things like: "I'd like to add that to the 
spec, but I can't...". Who/what is stopping him from doing so? Are 
companies like: Opera, Apple, Nokia and Google saying to Ian: "Edit the 
spec this way, or else we wont support it"? Are these companies 
controlling the spec by pressuring Ian into editing things in a way that 
benefits them financial? I don't think that a specification as important 
as this can be developed this way.

> The group is still finding its way through a process that allows 1000 
> people to collaborate in a useful way to develop a useful spec, and 
> Ian has his own views on that process.

Yeah, and that process is being corrupted by companies like Opera, Apple 
and Google that have there own financial interests at heart and are 
steering the HTML WG in a direction that will make them money in the 
future instead of what's in the best interest of the web. Having 
influences like this in the group is fine but they shouldn't be allowed 
to steer the group in their direction.

>> The W3C staff members don't seem to be interested in defending the 
>> open web given that I have made official complaints regarding Ian 
>> Hickson and his sponsors, but yet had no active response from the 
>> W3C. If the W3C can't stand up to this renegade group then what's the 
>> point of having the W3C? It seems that anyone can hijack the web and 
>> dictate to the world so long as they have enough money.
> You may be missing some signals. I have had various exchanges with the 
> people I am responsible for in the group, the chairs and staff 
> contacts, and others. I think things have improved. I think they need 
> to improve further. I expect this to happen.
> I think concrete proposals or clear explanations of problems are 
> helpful to that improvement, 

> ...but I believe that mixing insults in is detrimental to such proposals.

Sure, but it's a two way street Charles. Since you want to be the groups 
"Judge Judy" I hope you are going to correct the people that continue to 
insult/flame me too. Or is this just another case of the WHATWG being 
Judge, Jury, and Executioner for the W3C's HTML WG?

> [...]
>> If the way things are done in this group doesn't change to a more 
>> democratic model I'll be suggesting to the chairs that Ian Hickson be 
>> replaced as Editor of the spec with someone more professional and 
>> independent.
>> In the mean time I hereby ask that the HTML WG chairs engage the 
>> services of another person who is not an employee of Google, Opera 
>> software, Apple/Webkit or Mozilla to be another co Editor and watch 
>> Ian to see if he is taking everyone's ideas/concerns in to account 
>> and not blocking democracy with his own personal views/ideals.
> Editors volunteer to take on the work.

I've heard the "volunteer" argument before. If people are volunteering, 
it doesn't make it OK for the process to be unbalanced, if anything it's 
even more important to have the process moderated.

> If you want another editor (Dave is listed because the chairs asked 
> for volunteers...) 

Yes, and Ian and Dave are two of the eight members of the WHATWG. Which 
means that the spec is being edited by the WHATWG.
And this isn't about me not liking the WHATWG, they are welcome to 
participate, I just don't want them running the group.

This group should be led by logic and what's best for the web. It 
shouldn't be led by people that are pushing the spec in a direction that 
would benefit themselves financially and leave the world with a 
second-rate web.

Dean Edridge

Received on Thursday, 10 January 2008 16:21:18 UTC