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Re: W3C communities and its modus operandi

From: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2009 14:36:02 +0000
Message-Id: <B810E0FF-2BE4-420A-9F57-E5108466D308@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: www-archive@w3.org
To: Karl Dubost <karl+w3c@la-grange.net>
I wrote in <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2009Feb/ 
0123.html>:

""">> The W3C is in perpetual evolution and that is healthy and it
 >> learns from its mistakes.

I don't believe it does, or does so effectively."""

I'm probably overstating here, partly because, frankly, I am a bit  
miffed by Karl's tone and content.

However, I do find that, in my experience, there are lots of mistakes  
whose lessons are only are transmitted via osmosis or never learnt  
from. The change in procedure as a result of analyzing mistakes tends  
to be ad hoc and individual driven.

I think a complex institution  like the W3C could benefit from trying  
to formalize some of this. For example, can you, right now, pull up a  
list of the major mistakes the W3C things has happened? The number of  
charters that had to be rechartered? Even the schedule slips of  
working groups? The list of formal objections and their disposition?

I find even Team's understanding of these things to be very  
idiosyncratic. When something *does* go wrong, there's little case  
history to look at.

So, for example, I don't think that the HTMLWGs issues and behavior  
are *huge* outliers (except for group size and, even then,  
participation seems to have settled down) considered as a whole. The  
lack of telecon centricity is certainly at an extreme as well (but  
perhaps not so different in kind). It's not clear to me, as well,  
that the consensus failures are so atypical. But who knows?! If there  
were a written history then I could consult that history.

For example, when considering the process perception problems of the  
current HTML WG, I find it interesting to go back to complaints about  
the prior ones, e.g.,:
	http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-qa-dev/2006Jul/0011.html

This message makes specific claims about numerous process violations.  
And not ones open to interpretation. I see a follow up from some W3C  
staff (including Tim Berners-Lee) but I just *don't know what  
happened*. I've no sense how things directly played out. I could find  
out, but it's a heck of a lot of work and it would just be me.

For example:
	http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-qa-dev/2006Jul/0020.html

"""Thank you again for your contributions to W3C, including airing
your concerns on this list, which also acted as a catalyst for
others to express their concerns. These blog entries and emails
are as valuable as many technical contributions as they enable us
to gauge how we are doing as an organization. I look forward to a
series of changes that will make your participation, and that of
others, as rewarding to you as it is important to W3C.
"""

Is there a report somewhere that 1) synthesizes the comments and the  
resulting judgement of how the W3C is doing as an organization and 2)  
the results of that series of changes and how it has mitigated the  
identified problems? If there isn't such a thing, then it is, to me,  
a loss.

Cheers,
Bijan.
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2009 14:34:00 UTC

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