RE: PWE minutes

Hi All,

I think this is an interesting discussion of a very specific scenario. However, I don't think this belongs in the CEPC. If we get into this level of detail we are doing a disservice. This is meant to be a document to guide people about general behaviors. We expect people to use their judgement, which can be very hard to do. Offering too much detail in a code of conduct allows people the opportunity to say that they were following it exactly while still violating it in spirit, which defeats the whole purpose. Please refer to other codes of conduct for reference to see how minimal they are [1].

The fact that people are already managing situations on their own doesn't mean we need to codify the behavior. It means that people are exercising judgement. We might disagree with that judgement, but I don't think we can dictate good judgement. What we can do is offer information about how to act better. That is not a code of conduct. That is a much lengthier process. 

I would also like to remind everyone that our original plan was to publish this in time for TPAC 2019. That was several months ago. We will have the opportunity to revise this again. It is likely that we will have to make revisions after this has been tested in the real world.  Right now, we need to come to some agreement about the language that exists and stop proposing additions.

Thank you,


Tzviya Siegman
Information Standards Lead

-----Original Message-----
From: Nigel Megitt <> 
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 11:18 AM
To: Charles 'chaals' (McCathie) Nevile <>;; Siegman, Tzviya <>
Subject: Re: PWE minutes

On 17/12/2019, 15:19, "Charles 'chaals' (McCathie) Nevile" <> wrote:

    On Tue, 17 Dec 2019 15:20:28 +0100, Siegman, Tzviya <>  
    > We are working with Jory to prepare chairs' training that gives more  
    > hands-on information to chairs.

    > I am quite hesitant to offer chairs (or anyone for that matter) what  
    > looks like unilateral authority to make a decision that has potentially  
    > long-term effects.
    In my experience, chairs need such authority. It is not entirely clear  
    what authority they have at the moment, yet they do such things in  
    practice. (In a private conversation with a chair in the 24 hours since my  
    email, I found that they had needed to do something of this nature - and  
    that they had learned it from other chairs doing so).


Also, it is important that we are clear who does _not_ have such authority. If we can be clear that Chairs, Ombuds (and Team contacts?) do have the authority and others do not, then we could avoid the other scenario that I have had to deal with, where a WG member edits or deletes (in a harmful way) _other members'_ comments.

One further point: we need to have some wording here that distinguishes between an edit/delete that is disrespectful and one that is purposefully helpful. I'm thinking of two common cases which I think are fine:
1. someone replied to a GitHub comment by email and for some reason the whole thread was copied in: a helpful member may edit it to include only the new content.
2. someone forgot to use backticks around things that look like tags in text e.g. <p> and GitHub's Markdown processor just processes it as though it is HTML: a helpful member may edit it to put the backticks in to make it `<p>` so that the original intent of the message is restored.
    > I think that the role of chairs and how they manage specific scenarios  
    > is extremely nuanced.
    > Editing and redacted archived content is something that (whether good or  
    > bad) is viewed as quite alarmist in the W3C in my experience. Because it  
    > is just one approach of many, and it may be perceived as extremely  
    > harsh, I do not wish to include it in this iteration of CEPC.
    Hmm. I think it is important to establish the principle that we should not  
    leave harmful accusations and comments in archives longer than is  
    necessary. Unfortunately my experience has been that the overall tendency  
    is to do just that.

+1 I _really_ want W3C to have a clear policy about this kind of thing, explaining how to balance transparency and posterity vs harmfulness. That way as a Chair I have some hope of taking the right line in editing/deleting offensive comments.
    While I don't advocate removing anything that might upset anyone, I think  
    it is reasonable to explicitly provide the authority (subject to review by  
    an ombudsperson as you note below) and make it clear that we expect chairs  
    to act thoughtfully, rather than believing that the archive of written  
    comments is more important than the people those comments may be about.
    The basic principle should be that we record discussions of issues so we  
    can see what technical points led to a decision when looking back. In  
    general a comment that is "out of line" will be somewhat personal, so is  
    not part of what we are trying to record anyway.
    > I am envisioning a scenario where Person A does something in Github  
    > perceived as offensive by Person B who contacts their chair. Chair  
    > agrees and edits the GitHub comment to reflect that. A is offended by  
    > the edit and contacts and ombuds because they feel that the edit is  
    > itself a violation of the CEPC, showing a lack of respect.
    This ability to request review of a chair's decision is important to keep.

    > Further, Ada and I discussed as we were working through the edits  
    > yesterday that (in keeping with the section called "If you've done  
    > something improper" [1], the more appropriate action for the Chair or  
    > other leader is to ask Person A (potential violator of CEPC to apologize  
    > and make the edit themselves.
    Absolutely agree.

    > Ada and I spent several hours working on a revision to this section  
    > yesterday [2]. I think this MUST go hand in hand with actual training  
    > sessions for people in a leadership position.
    Since we have people in such positions already, and since they have to  
    deal with these issues now whether or not we are ready, I don't think we  
    should be gating anything (except our expectations) on having the training  
    prepared and rolled out.

    But as noted I agree that it is really important.



    > I am very much looking forward to Jory's Deescelation training, which we  
    > hope to roll out in the next few months.
    > Tzviya
    > [1]

    > [2]

    > Tzviya Siegman
    > Information Standards Lead
    > Wiley
    > 201-748-6884
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Charles 'chaals' (McCathie) Nevile <>
    > Sent: Monday, December 16, 2019 4:51 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: PWE minutes
    > In the minutes, the people who were at the meeting felt it was unlikely  
    > chairs would unliaterally redact harmful comments or block someone on a  
    > mailing list. In my experience I have both done, and seen other chairs  
    > do that - fortunately not frequently, but more than once. I think it is  
    > worth anticipating the possibility, and being clear that we invest  
    > chairs with the authority to do so in cases where it is necessary.
    > Note that behaviour of chairs is subject to claims that it contravenes  
    > the code, so this is not "carte blanche" for chairs to become to become  
    > petty dictators, and such authority should be exercised with  
    > thoughtfulness and restraint.
    > FWIW We should be far more proactive in talking to chairs about this. I  
    > never learned to do this in chair training, but I have often been backed  
    > up by other chairs and group members (including people in this CG), and  
    > unsurprisingly have also backed off and apologised for overstepping the  
    > boundaries of reasonable and proportional. I have likewise found myself  
    > in the position of feeling that a co-chair has overstepped, and imposed  
    > an unduly harsh restriction. With no apparent guidance resolving these  
    > situations is one of the most challenging aspects of chairing, and one  
    > where I really felt more help from W3C is important.
    > cheers
    > --
    > Charles "chaals" Nevile
    > PegaSys Standards Architect, ConsenSys
    Charles "chaals" Nevile
    PegaSys Standards Architect, ConsenSys

Received on Wednesday, 18 December 2019 17:08:33 UTC