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Re: Who is the Intended Audience of the Markup Spec Proposal?

From: Michael(tm) Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 12:12:19 +0900
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, public-html <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20090127031215.GE2878@sideshowbarker>

Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, 2009-01-26 23:29 +0000:

> On Mon, 26 Jan 2009, Ian Hickson wrote:
> I would also want the schema bits removed before going past WD, so as to 
> not give any sort of suggestion that there is an official schema of any 
> kind. (Henri discussed this in more detail, and I said the same at TPAC.)

I well understand the concern about negative side effects that
having one official schema can have. But the fact that the
"Content model" sections of the spec currently use a particular
schema formalism is not an essential feature of the spec. They
could be changed later to prose, if we ended up deciding that
would be better.

But as it stands now, the draft is in part a conscious attempt at
experimenting a bit with doing things a little differently -- at
trying to offer a contrasting alternatives to test both some of
the assumptions/choices that went into the design of the HTML5
spec (e.g., the choice you made to use prose descriptions for the
content models) and also those that went into the HTML4 spec (in
terms of that document's scope and structure).

> (I'm always happy for anything to be published as WD. I don't think we 
> should even have an explicit "WD" step, we should just always do 
> everything in public.)

I'm also happy to support publication of more WDs, and I agree
that we should do everything in public. As I understand it, the
approach that Sam has suggested is that if a member of the group
takes time to produce a draft and commits to serving as the editor
for it, we should as a group support publication of that as a WD.

I do understand what you mean about not having an explicit WD step
-- but given the W3C publishing process that we are required to
work with, it seems like "everything in public" amounts either to
publishing everything as WDs or publishing everything (including
the current HTML5 spec) only as Editor's Drafts.

Anyway, given that we've not been as successful as we'd like to be
in getting additional editors to commit to taking on some of the
work that needs to be done, I would think that giving the
"everything is public"=publication-as-WD approach would be worth a
try. It seems to me it could help significantly to encourage
potential editors to actually do real work (otherwise, if
potential editors believe from the beginning that there is a risk
of the group outright rejecting WD publication of their work,
that's a big disincentive that might well prevent them from ever
taking the time to try to write up any kind of draft to begin with).

I think it's also worth noting that any document that the group
publishes as a WD does not carry an explicit endorsement; the
boilerplate disclaimer language that's part of the Status section
of all WDs makes that very clear:

  "...This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or
  obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to
  cite this document as other than work in progress."

And the W3C Process Document makes it quite clear that a WD does
not necessarily need to be something that the group as a whole --
or even most of the group -- is in consensus agreement with:

  Consensus is not a prerequisite for approval to publish; the
  Working Group may request publication of a Working Draft even if
  it is unstable and does not meet all Working Group requirements.

All that said, though, publication as a WD does convey a degree of
implicit endorsement that the WD is at least substantial enough to
merit the group actually taking time to publish it, and to merit
people outside the group taking time to read and comment on it.

So if we were to go forward with it, I guess we might eventually
find the need to have some kind of baseline criteria for what
constitutes something substantial enough to merit another WD.

But in the mean time, I think it would be great to at least first
try moving toward a general approach closer to the one you described
("anything to be published as WD... everything in public") --
which will hopefully give potential contributors a bit more
incentive to actually take time to do substantial work (to produce
"camera ready" spec text, as Sam has previously described it).


Michael(tm) Smith
Received on Tuesday, 27 January 2009 03:12:45 UTC

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