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Re: formal objection to one vendor/one vote (and group decision process for, e.g. ISSUE-7 video-codecs)

From: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2009 10:42:02 -0500
To: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1247154122.16619.46638.camel@pav.lan>
Where to begin... this is a bit rushed, in hopes
of getting it out as input to today's teleconference...

One brief thought I had is that if you squint right,
a policy of "one vendor, one veto" is the same as
a policy of "zero formal objections" i.e. W3C's
definition of consensus.
 http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/policies.html#Consensus

The W3C policy doesn't completely require consensus,
but it puts a high value on it.

Of course, W3C puts a high value on consensus among
not just browser implementors but also the web
developers etc.

The WG design principle 3.2. Priority of Constituencies
shows a commitment to more than just browser implementors.
http://www.w3.org/TR/html-design-principles/#priority-of-constituencies


How to balance the input from these constituencies is
something this WG hasn't really come to grips with; I think
your concern is shared by a lot of participants, Shelly.

In particular, the HTML 5 editor's draft has material
of various levels of maturity; some of it is so widely
deployed that to change it is a fool's errand, and some
of it was cooked up last week. It all stands there with
the same authority, i.e. written by an editor appointed
by a chair appointed by a W3C director. So it's not surprising
when the community at large (mis)takes it all as the
position of W3C.


On Wed, 2009-07-08 at 07:28 -0500, Shelley Powers wrote:
> At one point in time, I believe, the W3C operated with a philosophy
> that if it had implementation, or promise of implementation, from
> three vendors (three being the majority), that would be sufficient.

Perhaps some groups have used that as a process, but I don't think
I have seen it. It's certainly not a W3C-wide policy.

> A commitment from three vendors would allow the specification to
> advance, and provide enough support to hopefully put pressure on the
> recalcitrant companies to implement the specification.

It's something perhaps we could try. Sam did suggest
something along those lines:

"Identifying three independent 
supporters, placing a message out on the mailing list soliciting 
objections, waiting a sufficient period of time, and noting for the 
record at a later date that no objections were produced is an example of 
how things work in a healthy working group."
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jan/0688.html

Note Sam didn't fill in the blanks about what to do in the
case of objections. That's as much art as science.

Also about "three being the majority", it's tricky to count; the
market share of the three might be less than the market share of
the one. I like to look for a critical mass of the marketplace,
though I admit with a marketplace as large as HTML's, I don't
really know how to find/measure it.

> There has always been a chicken and egg approach to web standards
> development, but there is such a thing as determining a course to take
> that has at least significant support and hope to, over time, convince
> reluctant parties to join in.

Are you suggesting that wasn't tried with video codecs?
Perhaps more time could be spent, and I'm not sure why Ian chose
30 Jun to announce a change, but the issue has been tracked formally
in this WG since 2007-11-08 and I don't know how long before
that it's been discussed in various other fora.

The issue has been sleeping (in "RAISED" state) in our tracker
for a while... I just updated it a bit to note recent developments:
ISSUE-7 video-codecs 
codec support and the <video> element 
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/tracker/issues/7

It would be nice if the WG could make a decision on that
issue and the next HTML 5 WD publication would reflect that
decision. I think that would be a lot better than the
current "well, Ian said X and you have to follow 1000s
of email messages to figure out what everbody else thinks"
status we now live with.


> Sorry, I had posted this to the wrong place. Re-posting here. I've
> also taken the liberty of copying over a couple of emails that
> followed this posting
> 
> -------------
> 
> I believe the process to register a formal objection is to send an
> email to this group, and label it as such.

Well, actually, formal objections are only in order as part
of WG decisions, and as others have pointed out, this WG
hasn't made a decision on video codecs.
http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/policies.html#Consensus

Just for formality's sake, another process option is to appeal
such non-WG decisions as:
 - the W3C decision to charter the WG (i.e. you might object
   to the commit-then-review aspects of the charter)
 - the chair's decision to appoint Ian Hickson and Dave Hyatt as editor

p.s. I write this after chatting with Sam Ruby a little bit, but
I haven't checked that he supports the details. And I haven't chatted
with Chris Wilson about this at all, nor Mike Smith.

-- 
Dan Connolly, W3C http://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/
gpg D3C2 887B 0F92 6005 C541  0875 0F91 96DE 6E52 C29E
Received on Thursday, 9 July 2009 15:42:11 UTC

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