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Re: Suggested response to the Yandex "cannot iive with loosening of TAG participation requiremens"

From: <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 23:13:35 +0200
To: Brian Kardell <bkardell@gmail.com>, Wayne Carr <wayne.carr@linux.intel.com>
Cc: David Singer <singer@apple.com>, Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-Id: <43761428959615@webcorp02h.yandex-team.ru>

13.04.2015, 19:28, "Brian Kardell" <bkardell@gmail.com>:
> On Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 12:37 PM, Wayne Carr <wayne.carr@linux.intel.com> wrote:
> [snip]
>> šBeyond that, there is a small set of large companies with a very large
>> šnumber of participants across the many Working Groups in W3C. šIn an
>> šelection of the 400 members, name recognition value of being from one of
>> šthose companies may be fairly high. šIt may be harder for someone from a
>> šcompany less well known to get elected if the entire group could be composed
>> šof employees from the top few companies in W3C participation. šššThose
>> šcompanies do have people with years of valuable experience and obviously
>> šmake major contributions to W3C, but given the TAG and AB are so small,
>> šallowing multiple people from the same company could limit representation
>> šfrom the wider membership.
> I'd like to speak to this idea of name recognition and relation to big
> companies because I don't think that that is the problem... 

I think it is part of the issue...

> Consider this: šName recognition is known input to success in any election.
> You might argue that it shouldn't be, but I hope not. šThe truth is,
> you want to know the kind of person you're voting for not just
> someone's campaign materials which are crafted to make them look good.
> An unknown person might look pretty good on paper, but you weigh the
> risk of the unknown against the good/bad of what you _actually_ know.


> So, yes, name recognition matters and yes, it's probably kept out some
> good people - but I'd say, not permanently - if they're good, they'll
> be back with better name recognition. šThe reason being is that name
> recognition is high generally because those people are seriously
> involved, and I think that history has proven out that good and very
> involved people without a very big company/budget behind them
> regularly beat out people who do come from that kind of background...

While this can happen, the current system biases pretty heavily in favour of name recognition being a big factor.

> We have had numerous people who aren't from browser vendors or even
> traditional tech powerhouses (sometimes not even members!) get elected
> because people believe in them based on what they've done/been
> involved with in the public sphere.


I would also be surprised at any suggestion that people elected to the TAG consciously used their position to benefit their employer, if they thought that conflicted with the good of the Web. Which is important. We are dealing here with individuals of both skill and integrity.

> Where it gets tricky is that for the same reasons, companies want
> them. šThat's by and large a good thing for the Web because it means a
> company is willing to foot the bill for more serious involvement
> still. šThis economics does tend to migrate the 'best' candidates
> toward being employed by big companies over time, but at the end of
> the day roughly 99 percent of member companies will not have an
> employee sitting on TAG and at some level, what everyone is debating
> is whether something like .25% of membership is "better represented"
> by not having two members with the same employer for _part_ of a TAG
> term, in which they were elected by said membership and are supposed
> to not represent their employer but the people who elected them/the
> larger Web.


> I can understand the concept that one would want to prevent a resource
> rich company from just hiring up as many people who sit on TAG (or AB)
> post election and orchestrating a coup of sorts, but on another level
> this seems like a lot of prevention for not a lot of value with the
> wrong interpretations of things in mind. 

Agreed. With a big BUT that I'll come back to.

>šThe truth is, TAG and AB
> don't have any formal power and instigating big change through either
> of them takes more than one election cycle and we're talking about
> much less - _part_ of one election cycle. šSeems to me that if
> membership saw this kind of evil, you can probably bet that that org
> would pay in the next election and lose all their seats.

I think you're underestimating the influence of the TAG / AB - although they have no formal power they both have quite a lot of "soft" power. They are both difficult to join if you're not backed at least implicitly by a large company - the cost of participation is pretty high.

> If there are people who get elected to TAG and switch employers after
> some time, we should let them finish the term they were elected to
> IMO. šI don't see anything in this which personally causes me to
> question the institution - it seems like it will mostly take care of
> itself if you have reasonable constraints on the elections themselves.

And one of my problems is that I don't believe that to be the case. The small number of elected members (5 overall) combines with an election system that makes name recognition a big factor.

But a large part of my concern is that in addition, if we get a group we think are good enough, the name recognition factor is increased. And the incumbent effect is also large - the exception that proves the rule being the campaign over the last few years to change the makeup of the TAG - which I think was as valuable as it was successful, but which is now more or less entrenched until someone can mount a similar "revolution".

To a certain extent, I think there is an element here that comes back to Tim, who has seemed interested in having a collegial TAG, appointing people who match the zeitgeist. In the World Wide Web, this means that we see a preponderance of appointees from a fairly homogeneous culture in an increasingly diverse web.

Companies not only employ people who are good, they employ, especially as the sort of people they will pay to go out in public in their name, people whose basic thinking is more or less in line with theirs. It speaks volumes to the credit of both our member organisations and their employees and nominees that we do consider the TAG and AB to represent what they think is best for the Web.

It is still the case that people whose worldview is fairly similar, whose day-to-day environments are fairly similar, whose economic situation in life is fairly similar (we're not all in the 1%, but I think it is fair to say that people in the TAG can realistically aspire to the top of the tree as a matter of course).

The TAG lives and works in a fairly narrow set of countries - and more or less always has. It is composed almost always of people whose everyday working language is english. This is not to criticise the members, who *do* generally have wide-ranging experience of the world and do generally work to represent the entirty of the web they know. But it is a limitation of the institution, *especially* as currently constituted, that it is likely to continue in this pattern.

> Not to sidetrack this discussion, but abetter strategy for more
> diversity would be to slightly expand the number of seats, perhaps
> proportional to membership such that it's equivalent to say 3% of
> membership (currently I think that would mean 12 seats instead of 9)
> but always remains manageable.

That was part of my proposal. Mark Nottingham suggested, in one of the cited dissenting positions to my proposal, that it would be hard to find enough good people. I disagree - I think we will be able to make the TAG unmanageably large before we run out of good candidates - in both cases we are talking about relatively tiny numbers among 400 members who employ many thousands of smart, clever, open-minded and thoughtful people to work on the Web and what it could and should be.

I think a proportional method for electing TAG members is more important than the overall numbers, but I think both are important to having a TAG that the world can identify with as a good selection of experts to cover something as small as "the way the Web is built, developed, and evolved".



Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru - - - Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Monday, 13 April 2015 21:14:11 UTC

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