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Re: Improving Communication and Expectations (was: Seeking earlier feedback from MS [Was: IE Team's Proposal for Cross Site Requests])

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 01:09:56 -0700
Cc: www-archive@w3.org, "public-webapps@w3.org" <public-webapps@w3.org>
Message-Id: <9C4037E7-8FE8-43AA-B760-4B966B7E5876@apple.com>
To: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>

On Jun 15, 2008, at 10:24 PM, Doug Schepers wrote:

> Hi-
> Ian Hickson wrote (on 6/15/08 11:11 PM):
>> If this was an isolated incident, one might be more willing to give  
>> Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, but it is just one more example  
>> in a long history of such behaviour that started long before I got  
>> involved in the standards world in the late 90s. If Microsoft want  
>> to improve their reputation, they should go above and beyond being  
>> good citizens, not continue this long trend of half-hearted  
>> participation.
> To be fair, I want to note that during this same timeframe, we have  
> been holding regular telcons for DOM3 Events, and that Travis  
> Leithead (also of Microsoft's IE team) has been very helpful and  
> productive, and has fulfilled his actions in a timely and  
> considerate manner.
> Perhaps part of the problem lies in not having regular and  
> consistent contact with other participants in the group.  I think  
> this is good evidence that having telcons improves communication and  
> accountability, and establishes a sense of urgency and schedule.   
> Making decisions during telcons can help prevent dragging out  
> issues.  It also helps humanize the actors, and improves our ability  
> to work as a team, even when we work for rival organizations
> I encourage the chairs of the new WebApps WG to start holding  
> regular telcons in which binding decisions are made, based on  
> evidence presented in email, wikis, tests, other documents, and  
> (yes) verbal discussion.

I am strongly against making binding decisions in telecons. In my  
experience, there is not enough time in the course of a telecon to  
fully think through a proposed decision, but usually no one objects to  
any given decision if they cannot think of an immediate objection.  
Thus, decisions are effectively made by anyone who can speak  
forcefully enough to convince the chair to propose a resolution. This  
is exacerbated by the fact that telecon decisions are often put as a  
proposed resolution and the chair only asks for objections. That means  
that even if no one understands the proposal enough to be  
affirmatively in favor, but does not feel uncomfortable objecting to  
something they don't understand, it still ends up passing. Also,  
telecon-based decisions often end up ignoring email feedback if those  
who gave feedback by email are not present to defend their position.

I will add that in my experience with API development in a commercial  
setting, we would never think to make API decisions by phone, or even  
via an in-person meeting. Every API addition has at least a week of  
email discussion before it can become final, with additional in-person  
meetings if needed for complex topics. I think Web standards desrve to  
be treated with at least the same degree of seriousness.

It is simply not possible to make an informed technical decision in  
the scope of a one-hour phone call, with only a few minutes of  
discussion. No software project works this way, and a standards  
project shouldn't either.

I do think telecons can be useful from a project-management  
perspective (checking on action items and so forth) but not for  
technical content. They can also be a reasonable way to originate  
proposals to send by email to the full group for discussion.

Received on Monday, 16 June 2008 08:10:41 UTC

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