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Re: Does anyone like microdata?

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 19:13:24 -0400
Message-ID: <4A494A94.7050906@w3.org>
To: Shelley Powers <shelleyp@burningbird.net>
CC: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Hi, Shelley-

I read and reread this thread, and I have to say, I do understand where 
Jonas is coming from (as do others, clearly).

I am hardly a person with admirable restraint, myself, and I would count 
myself among those who have a problem with how Hixie seems to make 
irrevocable decisions based on his own biases (which I do not share).  I 
frequently disagree not only with what he has decided, but how he has 
done so, and the rhetoric he uses.  So, I think I'm in a relatively good 
position to be objective here, in that I am --in some sense-- on your side.

Reading through your email, the points you raise are all decent and 
reasonable.  You rightfully questioned whether Maciej had framed the 
question correctly, and the audience he selected, and whether he drew 
premature conclusions.  I also agree that we might consider giving 
people who don't comment on the list less weight than those who who do, 
because they aren't supplying rationales.  (However, we can also assume 
that for each of those who do speak up, there are others who feel like 
their own thoughts are represented by the opinions already expressed, 
and it's reasonable for Maciej to assume that there are more people who 
do like microdata.)

So, overall, I agree with your points.

But when I read your email, the thing that jumped out at me was not the 
salience of your critiques, but the tone.

Phrases like, "I beg your pardon," "So I'm sorry", "their opinions are 
irrelevant", and calling out Maciej by name and repeatedly using an 
indicative "you"... all of these things strike an accusing, combative, 
dismissive tone.  Likewise, your sarcasm at the close put the cap on it; 
I have little doubt that it was merely intended as humor (and I admit 
that I've also used a similar sardonic tone), but such jokes are almost 
certain to fall flat in a tough crowd like this.  At this point, the 
HTML mailing list is a powderkeg, so you are more likely to get positive 
results if you simply take out the heated words and use a more objective 

But it's not just the tone of one email.  This tends to have a cascading 
effect: when one email goes negative, that tends to beget more negative 
emails.  So, when someone reads that single email, they get a feeling a 
dread... they know that the rest of the thread is likely to be 
transformed into a battle zone.  You'll notice that none of the many 
replies to your email really discussed the issues, or even commented 
primarily (or at all) on the fine points you raised.  It veered off into 
negametaland.  I would much rather discuss your analysis on its merits.

FWIW, I re-sent your email to my fiance to read over, giving her the 
impression that I wrote it.  She had exactly the same reaction I did, in 
exactly the same parts that I did; she said it sounded angry.  So, in 
this case, there was no bias about the gender of the writer, as you 
seemed to have suggested on Twitter.  (I sometimes have her read my 
emails for tone, and this has helped, especially when I'm passionate 
about an issue.)

I'm writing this email because I think you have a keen mind and a 
valuable perspective, and I want to see the representation from "my 
side" have more effect on the spec.


Shelley Powers wrote (on 6/29/09 5:55 PM):
> Jonas Sicking wrote:
>> On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM, Shelley
>> Powers<shelley.just@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 2:59 PM, Maciej Stachowiak<mjs@apple.com> wrote:
>>>> For the record, besides the on-list testimonials, I've received some
>>>> off-list feedback indicating there are some others who like
>>>> microdata but
>>>> would rather not say so directly on the list.
>>>> Overall, it seems like microdata has an audience of positive
>>>> advocates, even
>>>> though various people have reasons to dislike it.
>> [snip]
>>> So I'm sorry, but your search for feedback was extremely limited. I
>>> would suggest broadening it, or refraining from making any conclusions
>>> from the few feedbacks you have received.
>> The only conclusion that I see Maciej making is that microdata "has an
>> audience of positive advocates". It does not say anything about the
>> size of this audience, and does not say anything regarding if there is
>> consensus that it should be kept in.
>> It further does not say anything about if the audience is happy with
>> microdata as is, or if further technical discussions are needed.
>>> As for people who do not respond on the list, their opinions are
>>> irrelevant. Either people publicly commit their likes, or they go
>>> uncounted. That is fair and appropriate, do you not agree?
>> Why would people that say offlist that they are interested not count?
>> Sure, it would be hard to take their technical feedback into account
>> if we can't actually see their technical feedback, so their arguments
>> are severely weakened.
>> Or are you accusing Maciej or not being truthful?
> No, I'm saying that people who are not willing to commit to the
> specification, and voice their commitment, are people who are not part
> of the discussion.
> People mention in this group fairly frequently that decisions here are
> based on scientific methodology. Well, hearsay is not a scientific
> technique. It can't be measured, it can't be debated, it can't be more
> minutely discussed.
>>> Otherwise,
>>> I've heard from thousands who feel positively ill at the sight of the
>>> microdata section. No really, they just don't want to commit online.
>> Have you really? If so that would be good feedback to get. If you are
>> just making stuff up I'm starting to understand why you have such
>> trust issues with other people on this list.
> I was being facetious. Typically, understanding such requires
> imagination. I will be more careful about using the more esoteric
> communication techniques in this group.
>> In general, I think you really need to stop your accusing tone on the
>> HTML list. It was good to see you in a recent email say that you had
>> been more critical of Ian than of his technical decisions. I had hoped
>> that that would have led to the conclusion to stop attacking people
>> personally and instead keep discussions on the HTML list to a
>> technical nature.
> I beg your pardon. As far as I can see, most of the personal attacks
> today have been directed at me. I questioned Ian's judgment and biases,
> because he is still the only author of HTML 5--his decisions are shaping
> the specification. I have no intention of not continuing to be critical
> of Ian's decisions, just more careful about word use. There are trigger
> words, and I know better than to use them. Sometimes, though, I get
> frustrated.
>> This is the work environment for a lot of people and you are causing
>> this environment to be very unpleasant at times.
> I beg your pardon?
>> Feel free to not agree with the technical decisions that people are
>> making. Do counter those with technical arguments of your own.
> I beg your pardon? Is this not what I've been doing?
>> And feel free to disagree with the procedures that the working group
>> is currently using. Do discuss this in *separate* threads, and direct
>> them towards the *chairs* since they are the ones in charge of these
>> matters.
> I don't believe my issues with Maciej's statement, or Ian's decisions
> are specific to the chairs. I don't need to run to daddy to intercede on
> my behalf. I am more capable of holding my own in a debate, and in a
> disagreement.
>> And feel free to have trust issues with people. But keep those *off
>> the list*.
> And who has made the list unpleasant today? I would say your email was a
> deliberate attempt to silence me and my criticism. That is something I
> would never do, and have never done -- so who is really stepping over
> the boundaries today?
> I will continue as I began. If you wish to take this up with the chairs
> to have me barred from the group, be prepared to have this discussed
> more fully, not only in this group, but outside.
> Now, can we return to discussion issues specific to the HTML 5
> specification, and the decisions about the material included within it?
> Shelley
>> / Jonas
Received on Monday, 29 June 2009 23:13:44 UTC

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