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Re: "due consideration"

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2009 01:04:23 -0700
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>, WHATWG <whatwg@lists.whatwg.org>
Message-id: <DF1AB6A7-CA15-4D37-A0F4-DD9B809F3EC3@apple.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>



On Jul 23, 2009, at 7:51 PM, Larry Masinter wrote:

> > “When people's opinions are ultimately rejected, it is not without  
> due consideration first.”
>
> The word “consider” is used inconsistently, and the result is  
> confusion. I am willing to believe the confusion isn’t deliberate.
>
> In some circumstances, you could say something has been “considered”  
> if a person has given thought to the subject. So, I have considered  
> what I am saying, here, but that consideration is my personal  
> thought. T
>
> On the other hand, in standards activities and other group decision  
> making processes, a topic is “considered” if it has actually been  
> raised, discussed, the sense of the participants assessed, before a  
> group assessment and response is made.
>
> In HTML, so far, most comments have only been “considered” in the  
> former sense. I believe, however, that most people expect their  
> contributions, feedback and comments on a standard specification to  
> be “considered” in the latter sense, and what  “due consideration”  
> requires in an open standards process.

Ian gives more careful consideration and more thorough responses to  
comments than any other specification editor I have seen in action.  
I've commented on many W3C standards and many times I've seen comments  
raising serious technical issues dismissed without explanation, or  
just ignored. I have never seen that with HTML5.

Personally, I don't think a nominally dictatorial process is right in  
principle. No one person should be trusted with that much power. In  
practice, I've seen Ian change the spec many times to achieve what I  
think is often a good compromise among factions that disagree. Many  
times the outcome of this process is better than what we would have  
gotten if we'd immediately greased the squeakiest wheels. And the  
quality of the technical output seems quite a bit better than many  
more wholeheartedly committee-based approaches. So in actual practice,  
I think the process ends up quite a bit more consensus-driven than Ian  
would claim.

As a result, even though I think the HTML Working Group has the  
authority to override the editor by group decision, I haven't yet felt  
the need to demand a vote, even on issues where I disagreed. And yes,  
there are still parts of the spec that I strongly disagree with, such  
as the use of <legend> for <figure> captions. People probably see me  
as a "WHATWG insider" or whatever, but the fact is, while we broadly  
agree on big-picture design goals, I often disagree with Ian's initial  
take on many technical problems. What I have found is that if I make  
reasoned technical arguments based on evidence and use cases, then  
either I'll convince him to make a change(*), or if not, he will make  
a plausible case for the other side to the point that I can let the  
issue go. I think this is something anything can do, if they make the  
effort.

Regards,
Maciej


* - For example, I think it was my technical arguments that largely  
convinced Ian to make summary="" conforming, when months of shrill  
accusations of bad faith, rejections of evidence and appeals to  
authority failed to do so.
Received on Friday, 24 July 2009 08:05:13 UTC

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