W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webpayments@w3.org > December 2011

Re: Fwd: Contributor License Agreement

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 23:46:58 -0500
Message-ID: <4ED706C2.9090001@digitalbazaar.com>
To: public-webpayments@w3.org
Hi Steven,

Sorry for the very belated reply... still catching up on e-mail sent
over Thanksgiving and the presentation to W3Conf on Web Payments.

On 11/07/2011 04:54 PM, Steven Rowat wrote:
>> Where is the flaw? Nobody is being forced to agree to the CLA to
>> contribute. The public is well represented as are various
>> organizations.
>> Does that clear things up, Steven? Or are you still concerned
>> about how the mailing lists are structured?
> I don't see a problem for myself on the basis of how you've
> clarified that you only have one list and how this one list
> operates.

Glad to hear it. :)

> But I still see that it may be harder for you; this situation is a
> case in point. We went merrily along with you assuming I had signed
> a CLA and me not doing so and assuming I didn't have to because it's
>  the public list.
> Now you discover that I didn't. No harm in this case, but what if
> your discovery had happened two years after I had contributed text?
> (I might have done so, being a member of the public who had not read
> all the list background pages about the CLA etc.; and this might
> happen again with other people).

Yes, very true. I screwed up in this case and will need to be more
vigilant about noticing when changes from non-CLA folks are proposed to
the mailing list.

I don't have a very good solution to this problem... it's a problem that
all Working Groups have. While it isn't a good answer, most groups
operate under good faith that the people proposing changes are not
attempting to inject patented features into the specification. I've seen
many times where spec text was suggested to be changed by a non-WG
member and the change went in... far from ideal, but it happens often.

In fact, I know of no single court case where a company, using an
undercover standards participant, attempted to inject patented knowledge
into an open specification as that behavior could cancel out a patent
win in court with an equally massive fine of some sort.

> If there had been two lists, one for contributions, formal, and one
> for the public, then that wouldn't happen, correct?

Yes... but at the cost of confusing people that would like to
contribute. My experience is that it tends to confuse newcomers and
creates unnecessary friction for contributors. Discussing a change on
one list and then requesting for the change to happen on another mailing
list tends to need to be explained over and over again during the
life-cycle of a group.

The WHATWG has a fairly draconian policy that no spec text can be
proposed on the mailing list. You explain what is confusing about the
text and what you'd like to change... then the editor of the document
creates the specification text. Then again, they're operating without
any sort of patent policy in place, AFAIK... and that's for HTML5.

> So, I suppose the group has to balance the gain in efficiency it
> gets from having one list with the danger that CLA and non CLA people
> are discussing proposed text and, whenever there's verbatim text
> suggested, somebody needs to figure out which of the two the
> contributor is.

Yes, I think that's the right balance for now... I'm sure we'll revisit
this again if it doesn't work out. :)

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Standardizing Payment Links - Why Online Tipping has Failed
Received on Thursday, 1 December 2011 04:47:35 UTC

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