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RE: FW: [Bug 7034] New: change "conformance checker" to "ideology checker" or "loyalty checker"

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 2009 17:43:21 -0700
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>, "www-archive@w3.org" <www-archive@w3.org>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8B62A039C620904E92F1233570534C9B0118CDAC7169@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>

I'd rather not get into a legalistic argument about what 
the process document says or means or intends, although,
as a member of the AB during its construction, I think
I can speak with some authority. I think you have an
weak interpretation of "SHOULD":  for me, if things
"SHOULD" be done are not, the reasons why should be
well known, generally agreed, publicized, and reviewed
for continued appropriateness. I haven't made an exhaustive
catalog of other questionable areas of HTML WG process, but
the requirement for disclosure of significant relationships
comes to mind as a requirement that seems not to have 
been followed rigorously, although that requirement --
a *must* in the process document -- does still require
some judgment.

However, I don't think it's worthwhile or that anyone
has any interest in pursuing these in any formal sense --
I don't, and no one else is either. That's why I said

Any "process" is imperfect and calls for judgment,
but I think the judgment needs to be evaluated against the
goals of the organization.

What started this thread for me was the observation that
individuals and other working groups submit comments and
liaison with HTML WG with either assumptions or confusion
about how their comments are or are not processed, and
if the working group isn't going to follow the SHOULD
guidelines of responding to them in a timely fashion,
and that comments not addressed need to be resubmitted at
Last Call -- well, basic courtesy would be to let them
know that. Better would be at least to raise them as issues
and track them in a way that the submitter knows what
actually happened.

That's why I suggested focusing on the tracker and the
issues list -- I think if we start doing that now instead
of waiting for last call, we'll actually have some chance
of a finite "last call", rather than deferring all the
controversial issues until it is really is completely
too late to do anything about them.

With vendors now releasing proprietary products which claim
to implement the "open HTML5 standard", it may still be
too late, but then, I could stop spending time on this.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bijan Parsia [mailto:bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk] 
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 6:30 AM
To: www-archive@w3.org; Larry Masinter; Michael(tm) Smith; Tim Berners-Lee
Subject: RE: FW: [Bug 7034] New: change "conformance checker" to "ideology checker" or "loyalty checker"

In <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2009Jun/ 
0105.html> Larry Masinter wrote:

> Personally, I think the
> W3C HTML Working Group violates the W3C process in serious
> and significant ways. I understand there's little desire
> on the part of many participants to do much about that,
> but I think the simple matter of keeping the tracker and
> issue list better in sync would go a long way.

I've been observing the WG from the start, though I am not a  
participant, and I don't see that the WG is in violation, at all, of  
the process much less being in volation in serious and significant  
ways. But the only candidates I see have nothing to do with tracker  
or the issue list since, as far as I can tell, there are no process  
requirements for issue list maintenance. The closest I see is:


"""A document receives review from the moment it is first published.  
Starting with the First Public Working Draft until the start of a  
Last Call review, a Working Group <strong>should</should> formally  
address any substantive review comment about a technical report and  
should do so in a <strong>timely manner</strong>."""

There could be a difference in judgement here, I suppose. What counts  
as "timely"? In practice, many issues that many WGs face take a  
comparatively long time to address (e.g., since the technical issues  
aren't clear, or there is significant contention in the working  
group, or other works interferes).

The HTML WG seems to be acting fairly normally here. Easy issues are  
dealt with rapidly. Contentious issues take a lot longer and  
sometimes go though multiple rounds of circular argument.

In any case, this is a "should" level requirement. Given the  
resemblance to many other WGs I've observed, I don't think it's very  
credible to claim that the HTML WG so violates this should  
requirement that its violating process in serious and significant  
ways. Contrast with the must of last call:
"""Starting with a Last Call review up to the transition to Proposed  
Recommendation, a Working Group <strong>must</strong> formally  
address any substantive review comment about a technical report and  
<strong>should</strong> do so in a timely manner. When a Working  
Group requests to advance to Candidate Recommendation or beyond, the  
Director expects positive documentation that issues have been  
formally addressed (e.g., in an issues list that shows their  

You could argue that the HTML WG tends to violate meeting  
requirements, e.g.,
and perhaps, as a result, Good Standing requirements:
But again, these aren't typically hard requirements. Standing is just  
a tool for the chair, not a law.

You might think that the size of the group is in violation, e.g.,:
"""To allow rapid progress, Working Groups are intended to be small  
(typically fewer than 15 people) and composed of experts in the area  
defined by the charter. In principle, Interest Groups have no limit  
on the number of participants. When a Working Group grows too large  
to be effective, W3C may split it into an Interest Group (a  
discussion forum) and a much smaller Working Group (a core group of  
highly dedicated participants)."""

But this is clearly not a requirement. It's often "violated" and  
appropriately so. One could suggest splitting the WG into a WG and  
IG, but it's not clear that it would make things move faster (it  
certainly would magnify the power of the people in the core group,  
esp. since it would allow them to be more neglectful of the larger  
group). Also, you don't need 300+ people to have this volume of email.

Furthermore, participation, per se, is set in the charter:
""The Chair should not designate as an Invited Expert in a Working  
Group an individual who is an employee of a W3C Member. The Chair  
must not use Invited Expert status to circumvent participation limits  
imposed by the charter."""

Looking at the charter requirements:

I don't see anything that's obviously violated, or even judgement  
call violated by the HTML WG charter or practice.

In summary, I see a couple of cases where one might argue that the  
HTML WG is violating the process (though, I would think one would  
have to acknowledge that both text and practice support alternative  
judgments). If you have something else in mind, I would be very  
interested to know what that was. I haven't fully scoured the Process  
document, after all.

Received on Sunday, 21 June 2009 00:52:02 UTC

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