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an editor should try to adhere to principles [was Re: <ruby>, etc. in HTML5]

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 14:44:14 +0000
Cc: www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
Message-Id: <108EC7FE-3C78-45EC-8104-F1FF6652CA2E@robburns.com>
To: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>

Hi Ian,

On May 28, 2008, at 8:58 PM, Ian Hickson wrote:

> On Wed, 28 May 2008, Robert J Burns wrote:
>>> As I said in my last e-mail, it has never been my intent to edit the
>>> draft merely to reflect majority opinion. It is my intent to write  
>>> the
>>> spec in such a way that it addresses the needs of the Web user and  
>>> Web
>>> authoring community at large in the best way possible.
>> If that is your intent, then you're failing miserably at achieving  
>> it.
> That's quite possible. I'm doing my best, but I never claimed to be  
> any
> good. I'm happy to step down if someone better can take my place.

You keep lowering the bar in this conversation. It started out that  
you weren't going to compromise your principles for the W3C’s  
principles and now you're saying you're no good at adhering to any  
principles at all. We need you to make a real effort at adhering to at  
least your own principles. If you don't understand an issue, don't  
dismiss it, but rather ask questions. Do not be embarrassed to ask  

>> The draft appears to be simply edited at your own whim: bringing to  
>> bear
>> your own often misguided opinions.
> As I noted earlier, the spec doesn't actually align with my  
> opinions. For
> example, the spec allows xmlns="" attributes and /> syntax sugar in
> certain places, because the arguments in favour of those were stronger
> than the arguments against. However, personally I think both of those
> things are stupid, and I wish that I could find strong enough  
> arguments to
> remove them.

I really don't know what that means. To me you sound like you're  
saying that you don't use your own judgement when editing the draft.  
so In the case of xmlns the draft now reflects a state against your  
own better judgement. On the other hand if you weren't using your  
judgement to edit the draft what could you possibly being doing  
editing the draft?

Again, we need an editor who uses his judgment in editing the draft.  
However, we need that judgment to be informed by the opinions of  
others in the WG. Your job is not to come up with one-line zingers to  
shoot down other’s proposals (like calling xmlns a talisman). Rather  
your job is to understand the issues WG members raise so that the  
draft can be improved.

>> You frequently do not participate in the discussions of the WG  
>> because
>> you seem to think it is beneath you. I don't see how you can ever
>> achieve the goals and principles you laid out in your reply when you
>> behave in that way.
> I think it's clear from the archives that I do in fact take part in  
> the
> discussions:
>   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/author.html

You certainly do post to the list, but that's not the same thing as  
engaging in WG deliberations. Time and time again I've seen you post  
things to the list and on IRC that demonstrates you don't understand  
the issues involved. However, rather than asking questions to better  
understand the issues you simply ignore what you don't understand.

> Note also that the HTMLWG is far from the only source of feedback for
> HTML5. If you only look at input from this working group then you  
> might
> well think that I don't respond to feedback much or that I don't take
> discussions into account. I am also cc'ed on numerous bugs in public
> browser bug databases, I'm on dozens of other mailing lists,  
> including the
> WHATWG mailing list, I have Google alerts set up to let me know about
> Usenet postings and blog postings with feedback on the spec, and so  
> on.
> All of those sources are taken into account too. I also do research  
> using
> Google's vast resources, much of which I can't report on for
> confidentiality reasons, which I also take into account. If you are  
> only
> looking at the spec through the lens of the HTMLWG then indeed, you  
> would
> not see the spec reflect the group's discussions.

Yes, I think perhaps you're trying to do too much here. Focus mostly  
on the views of the WG and you'll be able to achieve both the W3C  
principles and your own admittedly failed aspirations for your own  

> Just look at the list of acknowledgements in the spec -- many if not  
> most
> of those people aren't HTMLWG members.
>> Also, you cannot simply limit the feedback you hear to “browser  
>> vendors”
>> narrowly defined. Perhaps you have no concern for the W3C priority of
>> constituencies either, but that ordered list goes: users, authors,
>> implementors (including among them a few browser vendors), spec  
>> writers.
>> You appear to be completely reversing that.
> Users are the most important concern, with authors quickly following.
> However, browser vendors have the ultimate veto. There is no point
> speccing things that they disagree with, as they'll just ignore the  
> spec
> and the users and authors will be in a far worse position overall.

I think you overestimate the eagerness of browser vendors to veto the  
needs of users and authors. Most of the proposals and deliberations  
that have taken place on the list are not at all burdensome on browser  
developers. Some of those proposals place no burden on browser  
developers at all (proposals targeting other UAs or taking advantage  
of features already implemented).

> Again, though, if I really am ignoring implementors as you claim, I  
> really
> would like to hear names so that I can contact them directly. Are  
> you just
> saying that to get a rise out of me, or are there really people whom  
> I am
> ignoring?

It's not for me to say for others. I will say I feel like most of the  
threads I have participated in have been misunderstood and frequently  
ignored by you. I come to this WG wearing many hats — including an  
implementor. So you can add me to the list you're looking to keep of  
those implementors you are ignoring. Am I an important implementor?  
Certainly not at the moment (if ever). But that only gets us back to  
your preferred language that you're not ignoring major browser vendors  
(though you may be ignoring the needs of many WG members, other  
implementors, authors and users).

Take care,
Received on Thursday, 29 May 2008 14:47:55 UTC

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