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Renewing Working Groups, a proposal

From: <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Tue, 02 Jun 2015 13:40:13 +0200
To: Revising W3C Process Community Group <public-w3process@w3.org>
Message-Id: <408571433245213@webcorp02d.yandex-team.ru>
This is to satisfy an action from the AB, but also addresses ISSUE-158.

== TL;DR:

We should insert

"Where a new charter modifies one or more existing groups, the charter MUST identify the previous charter(s) of the group(s). The groups identified continue to operate as the same Group under the new charter, and participants MAY continue to participate without being re-designated, until 60 days after the charter becomes operational. On the 60th day after the new charter is operational any participant who has not been re-designated to the group is held to have resigned, effective from that date if they continued to participate in the group, or effective from the date the new charter became operational if they ceased all participation activity at that date"

between the first and second sentences of the second paragraph in the section on "calls for participation" - 6.2.4 in the current process, 5.2.4 in the proposed Process 2015.

== Rough justification
This provides certainty about what happens to a Working Group, and who is a member when, while meeting the common expectation that a group which has continued with roughly the same work and people is in fact the same group.

There is nothing in the Patent Policy or Process that suggests this common expectation is actually wrong, but the Process document has not been very clear on the matter.

== Detailed justification

===Q: Why continue a group as the same group when the charter is modified?

===A1: In part because that is what a reasonable person is likely to believe actually happened.

Working Groups whose charter modifies their scope are generally chartered under the same name, and have most of the same participants. They generally continue to work on mostly the same technology, and their charters generally identify the previous charter "of the Working Group" /sic/. In certain cases, groups are merged or split, or their names change. This has been presented consistently as an administrative detail of how resources are distributed to enable work, rather than a matter of changes to IPR commitments, with continuity being a clear goal.

The counter-assumption presumes that common practice at W3C has allowed that one group publish a First Working Draft, a second group to publish various Public Working Drafts, a third group to publish a Candidate Recommendation ("Last Call" in the patent policy, and in the Process prior to 2014) and yet another group to Publish the Recommendation to which patent commitments are made.

===A2: In part, because the history of the Process Document implies that is what actually happened.

Currently, the Process document says: [[[
After Advisory Committee review of a Working Group or Interest Group charter, the Director may issue a Call for Participation to the Advisory Committee. Charters may be amended based on review comments before the Director issues a Call for Participation.

For a new group, this announcement officially creates the group. The announcement must include a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), and the name of the Team Contact.

After a Call for Participation, any Member representatives and Invited Experts must be designated (or re-designated).

Advisory Committee representatives may appeal creation or substantive modification of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.
]]] - http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/groups.html#cfp

This has been the case since the 2005 process document. The second paragraph was added in that document, as a change from the February 2004 Process, adopted when the Patent Policy was adopted. The same three paragraphs (i.e. 1, 2 and 4 in the quote above) were in the 2003 Process document, adopted while the Patent Policy was still in development. The structure of this section was a change from the relevant section of the 2001 Process: 

The Director creates, modifies, or extends a Working Group or Interest Group by sending a call for participation to the Advisory Committee. The call for participation must include a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), the name of the Team contact, and instructions for joining the group. A group does not exist prior to the initial call for participation.

To make substantial changes to a charter (e.g., to stop work on a deliverable due to negative review by the Advisory Committee), the Director must send a new call for participation to the Advisory Committee that indicates the changes (e.g., regarding deliverables or resource requirements). Charter modifications should not be made without substantial agreement in the group to accept the changes. Group participants who do not agree with a decision to modify the charter or with the proposed modifications may raise objections through their Advisory Committee representative (or through the Team contact for invited experts).

To extend a charter without otherwise modifying it substantially, the Director must send a new call for participation to the Advisory Committee that indicates the new duration. The new duration must not exceed the duration of the Activity to which the group belongs.

A call for participation that modifies or extends an group charter should provide rationale for the changes and include information about the current state of the group.

The Director may create, modify, or extend a Working Group or Interest Group at any time, but only as part of an approved Activity.

Advisory Committee representatives may appeal the creation, modification, or extension of a Working Group or Interest Group.
]]] - http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/groups.html#WGCreation (the same text is in the 19 July 2001 and 8 February 2001 versions).

The November 1999 Process document had a separate section on modifying charters - http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/Process-19991111/activities.html#GroupModification which required a director's announcement, but did not require re-joining a group. (That process also included the at least very readable IPR policy of the time: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process/Process-19991111/background.html#ipr if you're interested).

It seems clear that the intention in the Process document has consistently been to ensure that groups are reviewed from time to time, and that their scope can be changed only through a process of review allowing input from members.

===A3: In part, because the Patent Policy assumes there is a definition of when a Group begins or ends, but there actually ambiguity

Nothing I can find in the Patent Policy implies - let alone states - that a Working Group cannot, by agreement, change its scope. Definition of what is a Working Group is left to the Process Document.

The ability to resign from a group, e.g. on a change in scope but also during a CfC to publish a Working Draft whose delta would be covered by the members' existing commitment, provides any member with the option to avoid being in a group working on something new for which they do not wish to provide the normal RF patent commitment nor be formally required to exclude as an alternative.

By defining more clearly the lifespan of a Working Group, it provides some clarity for the meaning of the phrase "the work of that particular working group", which is the scope of commitments required by the first sentence of section 3.1 of the patent policy <http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/#sec-W3C-RF-license>. 

[Note that the phrasing of that sentence is still ambiguous. Reasonable interpretations may hold that the commitment is to the work itself, wherever it may be completed, but as done at the time the commitment is made in the Working Group to which the commitment was made. Alternatively, it is possible to argue that the commitment is only valid should the work be done and completed in the same Working Group. Resolving that ambiguity is beyond the scope of this proposal, the PSIG has apparently not made any determination, and it is therefore effectively an open question about the Patent Policy.]

===Q Why the 60 days to rejoin?

===A To provide clarity essential for interpreting the Patent Policy
There is a practice of removing people from groups 45 days after they are rechartered with a Call for Participation. This is not backed by any requirement I can find in the Process Document or Patent Policy.

It takes time for some members to follow their internal processes required to designate a participant in a Working Group, so there should continue to be *some* period of time during which members can participate to ensure continuity while formalities are being completed.

The Patent Policy allows an exclusion of content added while the participant was in the group, for up to 60 days after a participant resigns from a group. In the case of a rechartered group, the proposal provides clarity on when the resignation occurred, which is necessary for the end date of that exclusion opportunity to be calculated. 

Since 45 days is not used for any timing period elsewhere in the Process or Patent Policy, and 60 days is the standard period allowed to members for all patent-related decisions, it makes sense to align to a common pattern.

===Q What surprising implications does this have?

===A That depends on the narrowness of expectations…
1. A group can name a closed group as a predecessor.

This is a rational thing to do, instead of maintaining open "ghost" Working Groups where there is a foreseen need to consider some maintenance in a year or two.

2. Groups can merge, split, or be re-named, and maintain IPR commitments.

While there is ambiguity in the scope of commitment, as noted above, this reduces that ambiguity to the interpretation of the Patent Policy itself, allowing for effective administrative organisation adapting to circumstances with the approval of W3C members and the members of the Working Group.

3. We don't know if someone resigned from a Group for 60 days after it recharters.

In general, participants are expected to resign explicitly. But there has been no mechanism in the Process to do so until the proposed Process 2015. 

The 60-day period for inactive former participants simplifies the process of determining that a participant has effectively withdrawn.

For those who continue to participate without formally rejoining, resignation is only effective 60 days after rechartering - again providing clarity.

== Conclusion
The proposal is in line with all of "common expectation", practice, the Process Document as it has evolved, and the Patent Policy. 

It does not add appreciably to the size of the Process document (which would increase the difficulty of interpreting it).

It provides some clarity necessary to the interpretation of the Patent Policy, even if it does not resolve all the ambiguity in that document.

Therefore, we should adopt it.


Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru - - - Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 11:40:46 UTC

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