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Re: Improving Communication and Expectations

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 04:50:06 -0400
Message-ID: <4856293E.1010008@w3.org>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: www-archive@w3.org, "public-webapps@w3.org" <public-webapps@w3.org>

Hi, Maciej-

You may have misunderstood what I wrote.  I did not propose that issues 
be brought up and solved in a binding manner during a single telcon 
(though some minor issues may be, in the interest of acting in a 
suitably-paced manner).  As I clearly stated, the issues should be 
raised, discussed via email and supporting documents, giving everyone a 
chance to give input... the decision would be done during the telcon 
after the data has been collected, to  draw the issue to a close.

I honestly don't see how you could have jumped to your conclusion, 
unless you didn't read my email.

Details inline....

Maciej Stachowiak wrote (on 6/16/08 4:09 AM):
> On Jun 15, 2008, at 10:24 PM, Doug Schepers wrote:
>> 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. 

... just as decisions can be made by email, or by an editor acting 
alone, that are based solely on the volume or tone or ideology of the 
posters.  In fact, I think we've seen this happen a lot recently.

> 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. 

Then that is another communications problem that would need to be dealt 
with, but it also assumes a poorly-chaired telcon.  Luckily for this 
group, we have two experienced chairs, with long experience in 
standards, and with good judgment.

> 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 think Web standards desrve to 
> be treated with at least the same degree of seriousness.

And I think that, if a person is to treat this working group with the 
seriousness it deserves, they should make an effort to attend telcons 
where the issues are being discussed.  Typically, we set agendas 
beforehand, and we can accommodate people who want to attend these 
telcons by holding them at mutually agreeable times.

I've heard the argument that telcons take too much time, but I question 
this claim; much can be accomplished in a 1.5 hour conference that would 
take more time over email.

> 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.

This is not what I proposed... can you explain why you are 
characterizing it this way?

> 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.

I agree that they are also useful for these cases, but disagree that 
they are unsuitable for discussing technical issues.  As a developer in 
many different jobs, I've found that face-to-face and voice discussions 
are extremely helpful in getting everyone on the same page quickly, and 
are a good way to resolve technical issues.

It almost seems as if you are arguing against coordinating on technical 
issues, from your argument.

-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, WebApps, SVG, and CDF
Received on Monday, 16 June 2008 08:50:41 UTC

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