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Re: Why Design Principles?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 2009 10:57:28 +0200
To: "Maciej Stachowiak" <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.uuv252xtwxe0ny@widsith.local>
On Tue, 02 Jun 2009 10:39:27 +0200, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.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.

Yes, some time ago. I think that the practice in the meantime has shown  
that the agreement is not as widespread as we thought.

>> 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.

There is a point of principle to stand up for views that matter (the size  
of the vote isn't as important as the substance, as Ian keeps reminding  
us). I am arguing that focusing on things that are really important to the  
group is more important than some woolly principle of arguing for the  
majority view in the face of any objection.

>>> ...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?

Yes. And while I believe that your assessment in that email is pretty  
reasonable, it doesn't convince me that we should continue to spend time  
on this document.

>> 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.

I am not arguing that we don't believe in the principle. I am arguing that  
while a rough note about what we sort of agree on in theory is valuable, I  
don't think that the work required to get real consensus on the content  
will be ustified by the value it can add to the development of HTML5.

This is not a slight on the document itself (as I said earlier, I think it  
was a useful exercise as far as it went), nor on your new assessment of  
it, but a statement of my opinion about what will help us most to achieve  
our goal of defining a new version of HTML5.



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com
Received on Tuesday, 2 June 2009 08:58:16 UTC

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