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Re: Why Design Principles?

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 2009 01:39:27 -0700
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <A34B1682-CD9B-49FD-8E9A-3AC6175A4405@apple.com>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>

On Jun 2, 2009, at 1:18 AM, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> On Tue, 02 Jun 2009 05:30:13 +0200, Maciej Stachowiak  
> <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
>> The actual level of dissent over the Design Principles is quite  
>> low. The number of objectors is rather small, the disagreements do  
>> not rise to the level of Formal Objections, and many are over form,  
>> not substance.
> I think there is a difference between "people are generally ok with  
> publishing the thing as a *working draft*" and "Almost nobody has  
> any substantive objections".

Charles, I linked two surveys in my original email.

One was about publishing as a working draft: http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/wdhdp/
One was to gauge agreement or disagreement with individual principles: http://www.w3.org/2002/09/wbs/40318/dprv/results

I think your summary correctly characterizes only one of those  
surveys. The other showed widespread agreement with the substance of  
the individual principles, not just with publishing.

> I am concerned that if we set a pattern for simply ignoring  
> disagreement because that helps us work faster, we will carry that  
> through to more important issues.

Has anyone proposed that we ignore disagreement? I am simply saying,  
the level of disagreement is not high enough to abandon work. Giving a  
small minority a heckler's veto is surely not the right way to manage  
disagreement. Even though the staked are fairly low, and I was  
satisfied with not updating the document for some time, now it's a  
point of principle to stand up for views that are shared by most of  
the group.

>> ...The level of dissent is lower than for HTML5, and the stakes are  
>> much lower as well. If we can't come to reasonable agreement here,  
>> then how will we ever resolve much harder issues?
> By focusing on on building consensus around the things that actually  
> matter, and not distracting ourselves with documents whose  
> usefulness is questioned by some and acknowledged as ultimately  
> limited by others?

Did you read my longer email which explains why the Design Principles  
are useful and valuable, even to those who may not believe in them?

> As you note, while the design principles clearly note that everyone  
> cares about accessibility, the impact in practice is zero, and there  
> is no clear agreement on how to apply the principle in combination  
> with others, nor even on its own. And this is one of the  
> fundamentals that you list as non-negotiable...

If we didn't believe in that principle, then the spec would not, for  
instance, have "alt" or the <td headers=""> attribute. We can just let  
it go without saying. I don't think it hurts anyone to spell it out.  
For instance, if someone came along and said, "accessibility is a  
waste of time, let's just delete those parts of the spec," then they  
would not have much luck with that line of argument. It seems like a  
good idea to let them know that, much in the same way we should let  
people know they won't have much luck if they want to incompatibly  
change the syntax of every element.

Received on Tuesday, 2 June 2009 08:40:07 UTC

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