Re: w3process-ISSUE-80: Publishing Note to end unfinished REC should only be SHOULD

On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 19:11:36 +0400, Ian Jacobs <> wrote:

> On Dec 13, 2013, at 6:29 AM, Charles McCathie Nevile  
> <> wrote:
>> On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 09:06:17 +0400, Revising W3C Process Community  
>> Group Issue Tracker <> wrote:
>>> w3process-ISSUE-80: Publishing Note to end unfinished REC should only  
>>> be SHOULD
>>> Raised by: Ian Jacobs
>>> On product:
>>>   "W3C must publish any unfinished specifications on the
>>>    Recommendation track as Working Group Notes. "
>>> I suggest we change that to SHOULD. The sentence that follows says
>>> SHOULD for a different scenario:
>>>  "If a Working group decides, or the Director requires, the Working
>>>   Group to discontinue work on a technical report before completion,
>>>   the Working Group should publish the document as a Working Group
>>>   Note."
>>> It is not clear to me that the rationale of "closing the group" is
>>> materially different from any other piece of rationale the Director
>>> might have.
>>> Charles replied:
>>> "This has been discussed before (in an AB meeting before we made the  
>>> discussion open). The rationale for the difference is that there is no  
>>> effective way to require a Working Group to publish a Note shelving  
>>> their work, especially in the case where they have been told to shut  
>>> down. But it is feasible, and IMHO reasonable, to insist that W3C team  
>>> do it."
>>> The fact that the Team can do it does not increase the importance of  
>>> doing it. If it was not important enough for us to make it a MUST  
>>> requirement on WGs, I don't see why anybody else should have a MUST  
>>> requirement.
>> The reason for not making it a MUST on WGs is that there is no way of  
>> enforcing it. It is important to do, but the only effective way to make  
>> it a MUST is to shift the responsibility for it to W3C.
> By that rationale, the requirement would be: The WG should do it. But if  
> they don't, or if there is no WG, the Team MUST do it."


> Even if making Team responsible adds some degree of enforceability, it  
> is not clear to me that republication as a NOTE is critical.
> It's a good practice. But unfortunately it does not happen all the time.  
> And it does not seem to create big issues when it does not
> happen. I guess that's why I am not yet convinced it should be a MUST.

I do see it create issues in communities who are fairly disconnected from  
W3C (often by language as well as what they do), and who pick up a latest  
working draft that is waaay out of date and assume it is a real  
requirement. This is essentially the same argument that others have  
advanced in favour of scrapping TR for "living documents" (which I don't  
think is the right solution), and they have apparently seen it in  
different places.

If you propose to maintain an archive of globally-relevant technical work  
for decades (and you apparently do) I think it does behoove you to provide  
a slightly higher level of care than "oh, we just abandoned that stuff and  
left it lying in the corner as is - hopefully not many people will find it  
unless they understand the complete context of what happened in the 14  
years since".

Republishing something as a Note isn't a big deal (I hope - otherwise what  
needs to be fixed is the publication process, because that is one of the  
most central parts of what W3C does). Change the status, date, stylesheet  
and you're done. It could probably even be automated.

I think it would be well worth the small cost if W3C took this seriously  
as a responsibility instead of regarding it as an optional bit of niceness.


> Ian
>> I don't mind doing that to be honest - it would be good for you to go  
>> through the entire publication process from time to time to check that  
>> it hasn't got excessively complicated or time-consuming, and it would  
>> be good to be even surer that stuff gets published when it should. But  
>> I think it is important that the Process reinforce the general idea  
>> that Working Groups are responsible for doing their work, rather than  
>> assuming the team's job is to do all the menial tasks involved in  
>> meeting the process requirements.
>> cheers
>> Chaals
>> --
>> Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex
>>         Find more at
> --
> Ian Jacobs <>
> Tel:                       +1 718 260 9447

Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex         Find more at

Received on Friday, 13 December 2013 15:58:38 UTC