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Re: Request for editing guidance

From: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 16:08:51 -0400
Message-ID: <AANLkTikatbGqoJIMmhfA65MkXLmUAJl_m5ymd1WDUsmy@mail.gmail.com>
To: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Cc: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, "Tab Atkins Jr." <jackalmage@gmail.com>, Jirka Kosek <jirka@kosek.cz>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, public-html@w3.org
On Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 10:57 PM, John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu> wrote:
> So while I want to believe that the users always come first, practical
> experience is suggesting to me that this notion is somewhat utopian, and in
> practice already we likely arrive at option 3 versus 1 more often than not.

I don't think that's the case.  Implementers are willing to do a lot
of work if they think it will be the best option for users.  They try
to prioritize their work to give the most benefit to users, since all
of them want to get as many users as possible.  By contrast, users
don't have a direct interest in other users' needs, and authors only
have a direct interest in the needs of the users of their own site, if
that.  Browser implementers are the only ones who have a direct,
material interest in adding features that benefit as many users as

> Thus my comment regarding a mono-culture.

The WHATWG is run by parties that have similar interests and outlooks.
 However, anyone is free to participate and provide reasoning and
evidence, as in the HTMLWG.  I'm an author, not an implementer, but
I've suggested many changes in the WHATWG that have gotten
incorporated into the spec.

> As well, the current 'process' for conflict resolution at WHATWG is that the
> editor has final say (and thus, autocratic):

Correct.  More accurately, the implementers have the final say, since
they can (and do) overrule the editor in practice.  As I said before,
I think this is fine, because implementers have a vested interest in
improving the web for as many users as possible.

> Perhaps of "the web", but not necessarily of "users", especially when some
> users might be accessing the 'web' with a tool-set that includes software
> above and beyond a browser - specifically users of Adaptive Technology.
> Here, the 'implementers' lack a visible depth of understanding and
> *participation* of users of that sub-set, which is a problem. I know that
> Marco Zehe is an AT user working for Mozilla, but I am unaware of any AT
> users at Opera, Apple/web-kit, Google/Chrome acting at the engineer level
> (but would be thrilled to be corrected - and if I've missed somebody please
> accept my apology). As such, their ability to evaluate the needs of all
> users is restricted because of the existing mono-culture. This is not a
> criticism, it is simply an observation of fact. Again, happy to be
> corrected.

Yes, implementers are not well-suited to evaluate the needs of users
who don't use their browsers.  This constitutes only a small minority
of users, though, as far as I'm aware.  For instance, many websites
collect User-Agent strings of visitors, and once you remove spiders,
the results tend to show a negligible number of users using anything
outside the top five browsers.

Of course, some users might be using AT on top of the browser, but
they're still a user of that browser, and the browser implementers are
still interested in supporting them.  My impression is that at least
Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla expend some significant amount of
resources on accessibility.  Of course, they expend more resources on
non-disabled users, because there are many more non-disabled users
than disabled users.

> Aryeh, this sounds an awful lot like you're moving into the 80/20 'rule',
> which (coincidently enough) corresponds to some older data I have from a
> Microsoft study of 2004:
> 1 in 4 has a vision difficulty (25%)
> 1 in 4 has a dexterity difficulty (25%)
> 1 in 5 has a hearing difficulty (20%)
> 16% of users have a cognitive difficulty or impairment

This doesn't seem directly relevant.  I would assume that most of the
people in all those categories would still use regular browsers.  For
instance, if you define "vision difficulty" broadly enough that 25% of
people qualify, I'd guess that most would be fine with turning up the
text size at most.  Do you have data on how many people don't use the
largest browsers at all for most of their web browsing?

> However, given what I wrote above, we also need to have a healthy
> questioning of what their reality actually reflects. Is it everyone's
> reality, or their limited perspective of reality?

It's their perspective of reality.  For the reasons I outlined above,
I think that's pretty much the most representative and fair view of
reality we can get here.  (And I'm not an implementer.)

> Now that seems to be both fairly detailed and official to me.

The process is detailed and general.  The conclusions are explicitly
narrow and case-by-case, which results in inconsistency.  Ian is (as I
understand it) asking the chairs to give more general reasoning that
will tell him how to change similar parts of the spec to match the
specific change agreed upon by the Working Group.
Received on Thursday, 10 June 2010 20:09:23 UTC

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