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Re: Change Proposals and Counter-Proposals (was Re: Issues 89 through 97)

From: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2010 15:40:58 -0600
Message-ID: <643cc0271001181340yf314171o3f8a5524a26bc330@mail.gmail.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>
On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 2:04 PM, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
> On Jan 18, 2010, at 6:40 AM, Shelley Powers wrote:
>> On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 5:45 PM, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
>>> On Jan 17, 2010, at 6:35 AM, Shelley Powers wrote:
>>>> I'd like a small extension, and have you set the date for March 1st.
>>>> Considering that the response to the bugs took over two months for at
>>>> least one, and the number of change proposals I have to write, I don't
>>>> think my request is unreasonable.
>>> March 1st is a little over a month and a half. That sounds reasonable to me. I put you down as the volunteer for this batch with the stated deadline. For now we're not setting any other deadlines (either for counter-proposals or for any other issues).
>>> See issue status page for updates: <file:///Users/mjs/Work/src/html5/status/issue-status.html>.
>> Thanks.
>> I would like ensure, though, that the group is instructed that all
>> proposals, in support of zero-edits and otherwise, are also due this
>> time.
> We are not so instructing the group at this time. If you'd like to propose a change in how we run the Change Proposal process, then please let's make that a separate thread instead of tying it to the due date on your specific issues.

I am proposing that the co-chairs follow by their own writing.

If the co-chairs can't abide by their own written procedure, what good
is the procedure?

>> There is nothing in procedure allowing the concept of
>> "counter-proposal" and a full month for these to be written. This puts
>> a double burden on those who want to challenge the current document,
>> as well as the editor's decision.
>> The editor can, seemingly, add new material at the wish of _a_
>> implementor, and the only way we can counter this is to file a bug,
>> wait for wontfix, then do a proposal. But, rather than folks writing a
>> proposal to support the existing document, they wait to see what we
>> write, and then write one specifically counter to us. But we are,
>> then, not given time to write our own counter to the counter. Of
>> course not, because all of the proposals should be written at one
>> time, and then have a period to discuss all of them.
> Actually, the one time we got far enough in the process for this to matter, Manu Sporney had a chance to write a "counter to the counter" by updating his original Change Proposal. I recall that when he was offered this opportunity, you complained about it.

You have an interesting historical perspective on these things, Maciej.

I believe that I recommended people not merge multiple actions into a
change proposal, so that people's interest could be expressed cleanly,
without being confused about what was being decided.

>> So, though I thank you for letting me have a couple of extra weeks, I
>> would rather we not brush my concerns away about our not following the
>> Decision Process. We did not follow the Decision Process with
>> Microdata. We did not follow it with the dt/dd proposal. Evidently,
>> the same is in store for everything else.
> Step 6 of the process indicates that the chairs may "ask for a new round of proposals". We have been doing that habitually, and before posting any kind of poll, for every issue. This is for two reasons. First, many of the older issues do not have any rationale for the way the spec is currently; they predate the current Decision Policy, and never had any kind of recorded rationale from the editor or anyone else. It is only fair that if we ask an participant to provide full rationale for a Change Proposal, then someone should have to write the rationale for the way the spec is without the change. Second, it is much easier to focus discussion and draw conclusions when both pro and con arguments are gathered in a document.

Step 6 reads exactly like the following:

". Poll or Vote
A WG decision may be entered based on an informative straw poll as one
piece of input, or based on a formal and binding vote. Or the chairs
can ask for a new round of proposals if the poll does not reveal a
strongly preferred position; in this case, return to step 3.
Otherwise, the Working Group affirms or overrules the editor's
decision depending on the outcome. The Basic Process then proceeds
from step 7a or step 7b as appropriate. ** This is an endpoint for the
escalation process. **"

In other words, the co-chairs can call for another round of proposals
_if the poll does not reveal a strong preferred position_.

I'm not saying that people can't write pro- and con- proposals. What I
am asking is that co-chairs provide an equal, unbiased, and fair
application of the Decision Process that the co-chairs actually wrote.

Are you saying then, Maciej, that you disagree with the Decision Procedure?

> By the letter of the Decision Policy, the Chairs could, if we chose, simply assess consensus on the Change Proposals we do get, and in some cases Change Proposals would just be adopted or rejected outright, regardless of whether there is a counter. We have not done things that way because it seems less fair and less likely to reflect the will of the Working Group than the actual process.

What does this have to do with the fact that you started the process
of formally asking for counter-proposals and giving people a month to
write these, in violation of the Decision process you helped to
actually write?

> We could, as you suggest, ask for "no change" Change Proposals at the same time as Change Proposals that do call for a change, rather than waiting. We have not been doing that for two reasons. First, we think a counter-proposal or alternative proposal should have the chance to be informed by the original Change Proposal. In the case of the dt/dd issue, I feel that worked out well. If we had called for counters right off the bat, I suspect someone would have chosen to defend the status quo. But apparently, most of the Working Group was persuaded by your Change Proposal's rationale, and therefore only alternatives that agreed on the problem but had different solutions were submitted. Second, part of the reason for the Change Proposal process is to limit the ability of a single person or a small group of people to create excess work for the group and cause delay simply by raising a lot of Issues, without intending to follow through. The way you show that you are serious about following through is by writing a Change Proposal. At that point, we *do* expect the group to do work. In addition, we hope that the work of both Change Proposals and Counter-Proposals encourage everyone to do their best to resolve issues in a mutually agreeable way without escalation.

>From my reading, we could have determined all of this just from
discussion. Technically, we really didn't even need the alternative
change proposal.

In other words, you all agree with my change proposal, except for that
aspect, I really didn't care much about.

If people are going to defend what is in the spec, they should be able
to do so without having me help them, by giving them my proposal
first. If they need my writing first, then perhaps we really don't
need the counter-proposals, because I will have the stronger argument.

Regardless, I'm asking the co-chairs for this group to follow the
Procedure you all created. To follow fairly, in an unbiased manner,
and consistently.

>> Now is the time to remind people that if they want to write zero-edit
>> proposals for any of these issues, they have until March 1st, and that
>> no proposal will be accepted after that point.
>> I didn't write the Decision process, you chairs did. All I'm asking is
>> that you follow your own procedure.
> With due respect, I don't agree with your interpretation of the Decision Policy, or that your suggested way of doing things would lead to better outcomes for the group. Thus, no such deadline is being set at this time. The Chairs will discuss your suggested change together, however, and we'll let the Working Group know if there are any changes.

I'm sorry but if the co-chairs are to arbitrarily change the rules,
why have a procedure? This doesn't speak well of the procedure, or how
it is applied.

The text is not complicated, the words are clear: there is nothing in
the procedure for the concept of "counter-proposal", with an
additional month of time, before the discussions can even take place.


> Regards,
> Maciej
Received on Monday, 18 January 2010 21:41:31 UTC

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