Distinctions between Payments CG, Payments Workshop, and web-payments.org

Hi Team,

	Internally, my colleagues here at eBay became aware of this site and are expressing some concern:


Let me try to list the concerns I've heard so far:

1) The Payments CG is publishing sites and documents indicating they are developing payments standards at W3C.

The Website says:

"The primary output of the Web Payments Community Group are specifications that will be implemented by technology companies" [1]

which is different than

"Some (but not all) Community Group and Business Group Specifications are expected to serve as input to a Working Group." [2]

(from W3C's rules for CGs).

A lot of the verbiage on web-payments.org seems to be written as if the CG was developing specs and standards for payments, instead of providing a common community of fellow travelers. It also fails to clearly make the distinction around what CGs do and what WGs do. Phrases such as "technology that the Web Payments group creates" [1] could easily lead one to believe that the CG is empowered to do more than is actually permitted.

2) The site publishes a lot of 'specifications' on this page [3]. 

All have been moved over recently from Payswarm's domain, and with one exception were written by Manu Sporny. While I appreciate Manu's contributions to the team, these documents seem to be an attempt to pre-establish the basis for future work by the (hypothetical) Payments WG. Most of these documents are Payswarm-specific:

"The purpose of PaySwarm is to build payment (sic) into the core architecture of the Web. This document details the electronic commerce portion of this architecture; enabling the decentralized listing of assets for sale and the transaction of those assets resulting in a digitally verifiable receipt between the buyer and the vendor." [4]

This is from the abstract from a document called "Web Commerce 1.0" and apparently published by the Payments CG. The document labeled "Web Payments 1.0" says exactly the same thing in the abstract (!). [5] 

Also, these documents don't follow the rules for specs described in [2], i.e. copyright notice, IPR notice, link to CG page, obvious verbiage saying this is a draft proposal which may not go anywhere, etc.

These documents may reflect Payswarm's interests in this area, but they don't reflect the interests of the rest of the payments community, including eBay/PayPal. Under W3C's rules for CGs, these documents have no official status; they may be used as input to some future Working Group (or not). At the moment they don't represent a good cross-section of the community and don't follow W3C rules.

Also the site (and presumably the documents on it) are using the CC-BY license, where the W3C clearly specifies using the W3C-CCLA [6]. 

3) There's a lot of normative language on the site that doesn't belong there.

 "The Web can help us heal our ailing financial infrastructure and create a more equitable future for all of us." [1]

"...we are making it as easy and fast to send money around the world as it is to send an email..." 

And etc. This sort of normative language does not belong in W3C documents. Is it W3C's position that our "financial infrastructure" is "ailing"? I don't think so, though some members undoubtedly do. I heard similar language at TPAC, and it's not at all helpful.

4)  The Paris workshop is not directly related to the Payments CG.

This needs to be emphasized again. Companies with significant IP in this space may not be members of the CG due to IPR restrictions. PayPal is a good example - it's unlikely that we would ever join the CG for this reason. We'll be at the Workshop however, since it is not bound by the IPR rules. Let's clearly separate these two things and keep them separate. The Payments CG members are certainly welcome at the Workshop, just like everybody else, and on exactly the same basis. 

5) The entire site is far too broadly posed to make sense. 

Security? Identity? These are certainly issues for Web Payments, but the CG is not in the business of solving those problems, which are far larger than just the Payments space. The CG should simply note its dependencies on the work of others in these areas, and possibly identify requirements for these other groups to take into consideration in their own work. Expanding the scope of the effort to ocean-boiling levels won't help us in the future.

I'd like to suggest that this site be removed from public view until it can be revised in a way that represents both the spirit and the letter of the W3C's mission and the CG's charter. I'd be a lot more comfortable if it was hosted by W3C as well.



[1] https://web-payments.org/

[2] http://www.w3.org/community/about/agreements/

[3] https://web-payments.org/specs/

[4] https://web-payments.org/specs/source/web-commerce/

[5] https://web-payments.org/specs/source/web-payments/

[6] http://www.w3.org/community/about/agreements/cla/

Received on Thursday, 9 January 2014 09:14:08 UTC