W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > July 2014

Re: A proposal for revising the rules on TAG Participation

From: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:18:50 +0200
Message-ID: <CAKaEYh+RKRv98sUwv5tXOEGyU5BNkPNb8-wSg7_3X_wJ_BfftQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Cc: David Booth <david@dbooth.org>, Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>, Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>, Noah Mendelsohn <nrm@arcanedomain.com>, Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>, "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
On 16 July 2014 16:34, Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com> wrote:

>
> On 15 Jul 2014 23:21, "David Booth" <david@dbooth.org> wrote:
> >
> > On 07/16/2014 12:30 AM, Alex Russell wrote:
> >>
> >> On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 8:37 PM, David Booth <david@dbooth.org
> >> <mailto:david@dbooth.org>> wrote:
> >>
> >>     Hi Alex,
> >>
> >>     On 07/15/2014 09:12 PM, Alex Russell wrote:
> >>
> >>          > On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 9:50 PM, David Booth
> >>         <david@dbooth.org <mailto:david@dbooth.org>
> >>         <mailto:david@dbooth.org <mailto:david@dbooth.org>>> wrote:
> >>              On 07/11/2014 07:37 PM, Marcos Caceres wrote:
> >>                  On July 10, 2014 at 8:32:38 PM, Charles McCathie Nevile
> >>                  (chaals@yandex-team.ru <mailto:chaals@yandex-team.ru>
> >>         <mailto:chaals@yandex-team.ru <mailto:chaals@yandex-team.ru
> >>__)
> >>
> >>         wrote:
> >>                          I would be interested to hear of things that
> Marcos
> >>                          would have
> >>
> >>                      done but didn't because he was required to resign,
> >>         and whether
> >>                      anything would have mitigated the situation except
> >>         changing the
> >>                      rules.
> >>
> >>                  Well, let see. I set up the TAG GitHub account and was
> >>         happily doing
> >>                  API reviews. I was also starting to rewrite the
> >>         architecture of the
> >>                  Web document with Henry, but had to stop. I couldn't
> >>         justify the
> >>                  time
> >>                  and travel commitment to my employer (Mozilla) if I
> wasn't
> >>                  officially
> >>                  on the TAG.  [ . . . . ]
> >>
> >>              That's an interesting data point.  Thanks for sharing it
> >>         Marcos.
> >>              But apart from demonstrating the obvious loss of a good
> person
> >>              making good contributions, at the same time it demonstrates
> >>         the fact
> >>              that your employer's agenda trumped your personal desire to
> >>         do good
> >>              and contribute to the Web.
> >>
> >>         That's an incredibly strange intepretation. Mozilla continues to
> >>         do good
> >>         and contribute to the web. Mozilla continues to support TAG
> members
> >>         (Dave and prevously Anne). But they're not funding Marcos'
> >>         travel to TAG
> >>         meetings as a part of that and, thanks to membership, ahve no
> >>         reasonable
> >>         expectation that his travel would be effective if they /did/
> >>         fund it.
> >>
> >>
> >>     Agreed.  I do not dispute any of that.  But the fact remains that
> >>     his employer's agenda trumped his personal desire to contribute to
> >>     the TAG: Marcos stopped contributing to the TAG because of his
> >>     employer's decision.
> >>
> >>
> >> Again, it's really strange way of looking at it.
> >
> >
> > I don't think so, but we seem to disagree on this point.
> >
> >> His change of
> >> employment /caused a change in his membership on the TAG./
> >
> >
> > Right.
> >
> >
> >> The
> >> consequences of that change seem like predictable outcomes from where
> >> I'm sitting.
> >
> >
> > Agreed.
> >
> >> I'm not sure why you're phrasing this as something that
> >> Mozilla did, it's *something /the W3C did/* and which had predictable,
> >> negative outcomes.
> >
> >
> > That's a backward view of responsibility for one's actions.  I'm
> phrasing it as something that Mozilla did because it *is* something that
> Mozilla did.  The W3C's rule pre-dated Mozilla's business decision by a
> *long* time!  Mozilla's business decision was made **in spite of** the
> W3C's rule.
> >
> > Obviously Mozilla's business decision was more important to Mozilla than
> Marcos's participation in the TAG.  That's normal for any organization.
> >
> >
> >>
> >> What do you think Mozilla should have done differently?
> >
> >
> > Nothing.  I'm not claiming that Mozilla should have done anything
> differently.
> >
> >
> >> Why do you have
> >> an expectation that they should support travel to meetings for employees
> >> who are not members of the groups in question?
> >
> >
> > I don't.  Please stop suggesting that I do.
> >
> >
> >> Or is the point that
> >> Marcos and Dominic shouldn't have taken a better jobs at a different
> >> member firms in order to avoid this situation from occurring?
> >
> >
> > No, that is not my point either.  My point is exactly what I said -- no
> more and no less.  Please stop reading things into my statements that I did
> not say (and do not mean).  My point is that, regardless of how well
> intentioned and capable any individuals are, there is still a danger in
> making a change that could cause one company to dominate, or appear to
> dominate, the TAG.
>
> I'm asking you to mark your beliefs to market: do we have experience with
> "TAG stacking"? Did that experience cause this rule to come into being? It
> doesn't seem so.
>
> Instead we *do* have experience of membership-thrashing caused by this
> policy. We both seem to acknowledge that this isn't great and in all
> observed cases, the individuals have the integrity we would hope for. That
> is, the membership elected reasonable people who are acting reasonably.
>
> Asking who you think should have acted differently in these situations is
> how we weigh counterfactuals. It's entirely appropriate. Making a case that
> policies are useful even when we can't turn up evidence of their utility
> needs to stand up to this.
>
> There was no move to change the policy the first time it caused harm. Now
> that we are experiencing a pattern, there is a move to compensate. This
> seems healthy to me.
>
> >>         Put another way, if an employee came to you and said "I'm going
> >>         to keep
> >>         going to these meetings but can't really participate as an
> >>         equal" what
> >>         would you do?
> >>
> >>
> >>     I'm not blaming Marcos, nor am I blaming his management.  That
> >>     wasn't my point.  I certainly would have done the same as Marcos,
> >>     and I probably would have done the same as his manager if I were his
> >>     manager.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>              No matter how well-meaning one is, it simply is not
> possible to
> >>              maintain neutrality (or the appearance thereof) when one's
> >>         food and
> >>              mortgage are paid by one's employer.
> >>
> >>         You appear deeply unfamiliar with both Mozilla and Google.
> >>
> >>
> >>     I specifically said that I was not singling out any specific company
> >>     or individual.  We are discussing a proposed general rule change --
> >>     not a special exception for Mozilla and Google employees.
> >>
> >>
> >>         More to the
> >>         point, I'd go out on a limb and say that if you think the
> people you
> >>         elected to be on the TAG are, in general, sock puppets, I
> >>         recommend you
> >>         work to strip the TAG of even its ceremonial authority.
> >>
> >>
> >>     I do not think that at all!  Quite the opposite!  My comments were
> >>     about the dangers of making a *rule* change -- not about any company
> >>     or individual.
> >>
> >>
> >> This is absolutely about individuals and specific firms. The set of
> >> people who can be competent TAG members is, as others have noted, quite
> >> small. The set of sponsor firms is fixed at the set of members. So if
> >> this isn't about specific individuals and companies...well, then I don't
> >> know what we're even discussing.
> >
> >
> > We're discussing a *rule* change.  W3C rules last a lot longer than
> individuals' involvement.
>
> I can think of cases where this isn't true.
>
> >>       I have personally seen the highest levels of integrity in many of
> >>     the individuals I have come to know on the TAG and in other W3C
> >>     circles.  And I think the TAG's rule *has* caused a visible loss to
> >>     the W3C's work.  But I think the dangers of a rule change, which
> >>     could cause a different, less visible harm (but not necessarily less
> >>     damaging), still exist and must be considered.
> >>
> >>         If, on the other hand, you look at our body of recent work,
> >>         you'll see
> >>         it's largely the TAG putting the breaks on (and constructive
> >>         comments)
> >>         towards MOZILLA AND GOOGLE sponsored work in various WGs.
> >>
> >>         Categorical statements that can't be reckoned with reality
> >>         deserve to be
> >>         ignored categorically.
> >>
> >>
> >>     Reality is that: (a) no individual can be expected to be completely
> >>     neutral when being paid substantial sums by his/her employer;
> >>
> >> Web architecture is also not a cloistered pursuit. I can assure you that
> >> being close to implementers is an asset when discussing the set of
> >> likely and possible solutions.
> >
> >
> > Of course!
> >
> >
> >>
> >>     (b) companies can and do manipulate the good intentions of their
> >>     employees, whether or not such manipulation is consciously intended;
> >>
> >>
> >> As does all other life experience. The members elect TAG members, one
> >> hopes, for the judgement which is a product of said experience.
> >
> >
> > Sure.
> >
> >
> >>
> >>     and (c) even the *appearance* of domination by one company could be
> >>     harmful to the W3C's work.
> >>
> >> That argument demands a discussion of why this is somehow more true for
> >> the TAG than for WGs where specs are actually written and who have
> >> nearly all the power in any specific design discussion.
> >
> >
> > I made no such claim.
>
> What? I just said you haven't made a strong case and pointing out why it's
> weak. Didn't say you claimed anything.
>
> > I don't know who you think did.  But I do think it's reasonable to
> compare the differences between the TAG and WGs.  The WGs generally have
> more members; the TAG has higher stature (in some ways); the WGs turn out
> specs that have much more immediate consequences; the TAG's documents have
> much deeper and farther reaching consequences; there is only one TAG, while
> there are many WGs; the TAG requires much broader web expertise and
> insight.  Others?
>
> This reads an old mode of work into the TAG and perhaps is part of the
> basis for your concern. We have moved away from issuing findings. Instead
> we are doing much more hands-on spec-review work. See, e.g.:
> https://github.com/w3ctag/spec-reviews/blob/master/2013/07/WebAudio.md
>

Im not sure I understand the "old mode" vs "new mode" of the TAG, in line
with the comment "the TAG's documents have much deeper and farther reaching
consequences".

One document in particular that I have found far reaching, recently, was
the proposed 209 HTTP code

https://github.com/w3ctag/spec-reviews/blob/master/2014/04/http-209.md

It reminded me in some ways of timbl's sketch of a "paper trail" in design
issues [1] and strikes me as quite architectural.

[1] http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/PaperTrail

> >>     Regardless our good intentions, let's please not ignore that reality
> >>     in our desire to address the loss of a good contributor.
> >>     FWIW, individuals I have known on the TAG -- and in other W3C roles
> >>     -- have had some of the highest personal integrity that I've seen.
> >>       (And in my experience, those with such high integrity also freely
> >>     admit that they *cannot* be entirely neutral in such situations.)
> >>       The W3C -- and the world -- have certainly benefited as a result.
> >>       But that does not eliminate the danger that I'm pointing out.
> >>
> >>     Again, I apologize if any of my comments sounded like any sort of
> >>     personal slight.  They were *not* intended that way.  They were
> >>     simply intended as a reminder of the inherent dangers that must be
> >>     considered in contemplating such a rule change -- dangers that do
> >>     not disappear even when the individuals involved have the highest
> >>     dedication and integrity:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>              Companies routinely manipulate the good intentions of their
> >>              employees to benefit the company's agenda.  (And I do not
> >>         mean to be
> >>              singling out any particular company or individual here.)
> >>
> >>              Stacking a decision-making body with very likable,
> talented and
> >>              well-meaning individuals is the most effective way to do
> >>         it.  The
> >>              fact that those individuals may honestly attempt to be
> >>         neutral does
> >>              *not* mean that the net effect is neutral.  And again, I'm
> not
> >>              saying that any particular company is consciously trying to
> >>         stack
> >>              the TAG.  But conscious or not, that can be the effect.
> >>
> >>              Personally, I think it would be okay to relax the TAG's
> rule
> >>              slightly to allow two individuals from the same
> organization to
> >>              serve temporarily and/or with the approval of the AB.   But
> >>         beyond
> >>              that I think there would be too much danger of undue
> >>         dominance by
> >>              one organization, regardless of how well meaning the
> >>         individuals are.
> >>
> >>              David Booth
> >>
> >>
> >>     Thanks,
> >>     David
> >>
> >>
>
Received on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 15:19:19 UTC

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