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RE: Why I don't attend the weekly teleconference (Was: Input on the agenda)

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:33:52 +0000 (UTC)
To: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0906280004310.16244@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Sat, 27 Jun 2009, Murray Maloney wrote:
> At 01:10 AM 6/24/2009 +0000, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > On Tue, 23 Jun 2009, John Foliot wrote:
> > > Ian Hickson wrote:
> > > >
> > > > (The browser vendors are the ultimate gatekeepers, of course, in 
> > > > that they get to decide what actually gets implemented. It's our 
> > > > role as editors to make sure we do what they want, otherwise our 
> > > > documents are nothing but rather dry science fiction.)
> > >
> > > Actually Ian, the end users are the ultimate gatekeepers, because if 
> > > the browser, no matter how 'superior' it might be technically, does 
> > > not support the end users, then they will not use it.
> > 
> > Yeah, to some extent that is true. However, I think that is reflected 
> > in what the browser vendors implement, since they are motivated to 
> > make sure they don't ignore their users (since, as you say, they would 
> > then lose market share).
> I, for one, do not trust the browser makers to get it right any more 
> than I trust the banks to get it right.

You don't think that users would pick another browser if a browser vendor 
were to take an approach that was counter to the user's wishes?

If so, doesn't that mean that you actually _don't_ think that users are 
the ultimate gatekeepers? If that's the case, then how do we ensure users 
are represented while still making sure our specification is implemented?

Certainly, though, there's nothing wrong with getting feedback from users 
directly; indeed, that's something I have been doing a lot over the past 
few years: observing usability studies, approaching users on blogs and in 
forums, speaking to people from all walks of life in person, etc.

Of course, if the users ask for something that the browser vendors won't 
implement, as you suggest may be the case, then we're back to square one, 
but certainly direct user feedback should (and does) inform our opinion.

> > [The large number of people on the Web with special needs] is exactly 
> > the people I want to help. However, we have to *actually help them*, 
> > not just provide solutions that theoretically might help them but in 
> > practice do not (such as longdesc, summary, etc).
> Ian, I don't think that it is fair to imply or assert that longdesc and 
> summary do not work in practice.

All the evidence we have collected indicate that they are in fact complete 
and utter failures. I'm not sure how "fairness" enters the discussion; 
this is an observation backed up by every objective study that has been 
cited so far. We do the aforementioned population a serious disservice by 
pretending otherwise.

> Since you argue that browser makers are the ultimate gatekeepers for 
> visual representation of HTML, why do you not allow the same role for AT 
> makers?

AT vendors do have that role. It's not up to us to "allow" or "disallow" 
it; it's a fact. Implementors have the ultimate veto on any implementation 
requirements we put in our specs not because we allow them to, but because 
in every literal sense if they don't want to do what we tell them to do, 
then they don't have to.

Specification authors -- the W3C, the IETF, the WHATWG, you, me -- have 
_zero power_ to enforce implementors to do what we put in our specs. We 
only get what we write to be implemented if what we write is what 
implementors are willing to implement. (This is why I work so closely with 
browser vendors and other implementors to find out what they want.)

For requirements that apply to ATs, the AT vendors have ultimate and 
absolute power.

> Isn't it up to the AT people to say what works for them?

I have encouraged AT vendors to contribute to the HTML5 effort many times 
over the past few years. So far the only AT vendor who has spoken on this 
issue (namely Apple) has indicated that longdesc has failed [1], and that 
the state of summary="" is similar [2].

If you can encourage other AT vendors to contribute to this discussion, 
that would be very helpful. Most helpful would be documentation explaining 
what the algorithm used for determining layout tables is, since that would 
allow us to more accurately collect data regarding what summary="" values 
users would see in actual use.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0332.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jun/0217.html

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Sunday, 28 June 2009 00:34:29 UTC

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