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Re: Other designation than "Editor"?

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 12:05:15 +0000
To: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>
Cc: spec-prod@w3.org
Message-ID: <1888BCCEB6A449F29261FB5B870531EC@marcosc.com>

On Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 11:31 AM, Anne van Kesteren wrote:

> On Wed, 21 Dec 2011 12:04:37 +0100, Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com (mailto:w3c@marcosc.com)> wrote:
> > Ego/career advancement aside, what is the use case for designating  
> > authorship or/vs editorial ship (e.g., is there some legal reason to  
> > list authors or editors)?
> I don't know. It seems useful to know who is responsible for a given  
> document though.  

I agree someone needs to be responsible, but ultimately I think the Working Group and standards org are responsible for the work.

Consider the division of labor: the chair does a bunch of logistical work, the editor writes, the members/public review feed back, the W3C staff make sure it gets online and meets certain quality criteria, server admin makes sure people can get to it and keep CVS/HG/Mailing lists running, members/public contribute or review tests, etc… it takes lots of people to bring it all together, and they all play a crucial part in the specification/standardization process.  

So, Editors/Authors produce the tangible "spec", but can only do so because of the support of others; is their role more significant than any of the other actors (i.e., those we sometimes relegate to the Acknowledgements section)?  

> The reason for making the distinction was mainly that  
> "Editor" does not really describe the relation that person has to the  
> document well. I don't really care that much either, just curious what  
> other people thought.

 Sperberg-McQueen [1] put it like this (though I don't have an opinion about what he said being right or wrong):

"...the editor should expect to have all the responsibilities of the author but none of the rights. That is, the editors should definitely expect to draft the specification without relying on wording from others in the [Working Group (WG)], but not to have the kind of intellectual ownership that comes from being the ones who determine what should and should not be in the spec. The intellectual responsibility for the spec should remain with the WG, and the editors need to be willing to write into the spec whatever the WG decides, even if they personally would prefer something else."

[1] https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/chairs/1999JanMar/0056

Which provides an interesting contrast to [2] (WHATWG):  

"People send e-mail to the mailing list. The editor then reads that feedback and, taking it into account along with research, studies, and feedback from many other sources (blogs, forums, IRC, etc) makes language design decisions intended to address everyone's needs as well as possible while keeping the language consistent.
This continues, with people sending more feedback, until nobody is able to convince the editor to change the spec any more (e.g. because two people want opposite things, and the editor has considered all the information available and decided that one of the two proposals is the better one).
This is not a consensus-based approach -- there's no guarantee that everyone will be happy! There is also no voting.
There is a small oversight committee (known as the "WHATWG members", see the charter) who have the authority to override or replace the editor if he starts making bad decisions."

[2] http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/FAQ#How_does_the_WHATWG_work.3F

> > I'm wondering because a lot of other standards setting bodies don't list  
> > Editors or authors.
> Interesting. W3C/IETF/WHATWG all do. But I guess they've all been inspired  
> by each other.

Marcos Caceres
Received on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 12:05:56 UTC

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