Re: [webpayments] What are the WPWG February 2016 face-to-face prioritized issues (#89)

@adrianhopebailie wrote:
> The staff and chairs have a weekly meeting on a Tuesday to discuss progress and set an agenda for the upcoming call. This is the first request I have seen to have the minutes of that call made public.

I normally wouldn't care about what the Chairs and Staff discuss wrt. getting consensus in the group. My concern is that you've overstepped the "getting consensus" remit that Chairs/Staff have by arguing directly for certain things to happen based on input you've gathered from others, without sharing that input with the group, and then not waiting for the WG to come up to speed before pushing a proposal forward.

> The staff and chairs also regularly reach out to other W3C staff or independent experts for their input on the work so far.

+1, that's totally fine. Not reporting what you find back to the group in a public way is the thing that I find concerning. We felt side-swiped by the way issue #27 (and the CG specs to a certain degree) was handled.

> In doing this outreach we have not always asked for permission to share the source of this input so in the interests of protecting the relations we have with those individuals it is aggregated through the chairs and staff.

Input from an unknown number of people we don't know is not useful data for the group to analyze. When I've chaired, I've endeavored to have those people bring their input to the group and I've found that in many of the cases, they're fine with publishing their thoughts and engaging the group.

> The chairs and staff have used these outside channels to ensure we are well informed in how we deal with topics such as JSON-LD 

It's fine if you collect data and then come back and present technical arguments to the group, but I don't really think that happened in this particular case, and I'm concerned about it not happening again. I also find it surprising that most everyone that you talked to about JSON-LD didn't want to make a single public comment about it.

> which are being aggressively pursued by members who argue that the only reason their proposals are being opposed is ignorance of the technology.

Could you provide the link to where this happened?

> There has not been any official W3C Team review of the API proposals and so there is no output to share other than what has been expressed in the open discussions.

I thought you said Ian was going to talk to the W3C Team about the specs?

> The staff and chairs do discuss strategies we should pursue to deal with issues that we consider blockers to the group's progress. (Unfortunately these issues are often not fundamental but are creating so much noise that they are distracting the group from making progress.)

I'm fine w/ those discussions happening as long as they're made public before you start taking action on the strategy. What I feel has happened a few times is that the chairs/staff are discussing strategy in their meetings, making a decision on the direction to go, and then plowing in that direction.

> These strategies involve a plan to gather as much information as possible on the issue and put it in front of the group and then push the group to make a decision on the way forward.

I have no problem with this general strategy, what I think is missing is:

1. When you put it in front of the group, let us know where that information came from or push people to make comments in the issue tracker instead of relaying anonymous tips on the specs. For example, I think it's really helpful that @adrianba got Travis and Jake to take a look at some of the specs and comment publicly. I would expect this to be the norm.
2. When you push the group to make a decision on the way forward, make sure they're participating and the conversation isn't between chairs/staff and just the proposers of a particular spec.

> Where the discussion is one-sided we attempt to present the other-side of the argument for the benefit of the group and to ensure that when it comes time to resolve the issue the members are well informed.

+1, no problem with this, but make it clear that you're doing that.

> There is a lot of discussion that happens outside the group's open channels. I am aware of at least 2 recent direct calls between yourself and other group members that a) did not include either the staff or chairs, b) were not minuted c) the group were only made aware of after the fact.

I didn't let the group know about the call w/ Zach/Rouslan. I did let the group know that we were going to do a similar call w/ AdrianB. After we had those calls, we let the group know as well as what we talked about and who said what.

Sidebar conversations are fine. 

What is not fine are sidebar conversations between the Chairs/Staff that result in data gathering and a strategic discussion being made and then executed upon without filling the group in on the data (in detail), or the strategy and why we're executing upon it. This is even more concerning when the Staff starts aggressively pushing for a decision to be made (issue #27) while there are people stating that they don't think the WG is up to speed on the particular issue yet.

> I consider these to be useful for efficient issue resolution between the parties, not malicious back-channel discussions. 

I went out of my way to state that I did not believe the sidebars were malicious (because I don't think they were). I'm going to do it again - I don't think they were malicious, but they were not followed up on properly by the chairs/staff.

> I'm not sure why you consider the discussions initiated by the chairs or staff in a similar vein any different?

The Chairs and Staff are there to seek consensus among the group. You are also held to a higher standard to ensure the group is operating transparently and with all of the information in front of them. 

> You suggest getting IEs from, among others, the Bitcoin community and yet you yourself have publicly accused them of not wanting to be involved. I'm not sure what more you want the chairs and staff to do here?

I've accused Bitcoin companies of not participating. I think there may still be a chance to pull some interesting Invited Experts we could pull from the Bitcoin community. I just haven't attempted to do that because it doesn't seem like the Chairs/Staff/W3C are interested in persuing Invited Experts (and they're the ones that tend to have the final say on IEs).

What I'm trying to do is to raise this issue before it gets worse, and to see if anyone else in the group feels the same way. If not, it'll be a very quick conversation and we'll move on. Also note that I don't want this to take up a lot of time at the face-to-face and I'd prefer if it were at the tail end of the agenda.

Again, I don't think this transparency stuff was intentional or malicious. Each of you have done a fine job in the /many/ other aspects of Chairing/Staffing. Having been in the same position as you before, I know how hard it can be to strike the right balance. 

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Received on Monday, 22 February 2016 02:01:30 UTC