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Grounds for Formal Objections

From: Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2019 18:50:51 +0900
Message-Id: <57FB7B56-849E-4687-81F5-DAF4FE0AD96D@rivoal.net>
Cc: "Siegman, Tzviya" <tsiegman@wiley.com>, Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>, fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, public-w3process <public-w3process@w3.org>
To: Michael Champion <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com>
This is veering off topic, so I'm changing the title, but I think it is an interesting topic.

> On Mar 16, 2019, at 2:46, Michael Champion <Michael.Champion@microsoft.com> wrote:
> 
>  Likewise I think W3C could learn from the WHATWG’s extremely limited ability for contributors to file “formal objections” to the Steering Group if they think their expert opinion is being buried in groupthink.  (It exists on paper, but has never been used, and the SG cannot make a technical judgment but only a procedural decision that the Editor hasn’t respected the various WHATWG policies.) 

In another mail, fantasai was arguing for the opposite, and supporting the existence of Formal Objections on non procedural grounds 

Quoting here here for convenience:

> I think there's also cases where the WG might be intentionally disregarding the FO
> because its choice of design principles disagrees with the FO, and that's not an
> issue of process but of technical architecture. In such cases a review of the issue
> by a higher technical authority representing W3C's technical values and expertise as
> a whole is warranted. A qualified Director, in consultation with the TAG and other
> experts, should be able to adjudicate such issues on technical grounds: it's not
> always and only about process.

I'm leaning towards agreeing with Mike rather than fantasai, but I'd like to talk through it some more, as disagreeing with fantasai is highly correlated with being wrong :)

Currently, the process allows for that sort of FO. Do they happen often (or at all)?

Could this be handled differently? For example, people can always ping the TAG (which includes the Director so long as we have one) on any issue they want feedback on, and we could include the TAG  in the mandatory horizontal reviews (which is de-facto the case already, given that intent-to-ship requires it). Then, if the TAG tells a WG they're going against some web-wide architectural principle, that doesn't give them the authority to order the group to change their spec in a particular way, but the group nonetheless needs to handle that feedback one way or another. And if they brush that feedback off (or feedback from other horizontal review groups), now there are grounds for procedural objections.

The advantages I see to that sort of approach is that it keeps the discussion and consensus wrangling closes to the group that owns the spec, does make sure that we can insist on web-wide higher principles, but doesn't invoke some higher authority who can disregard consensus (and who may not be as well versed in the details of the topic at hand).

—Florian
Received on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 09:51:19 UTC

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