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Re: Summary of TAG resolutions on Director-Free Process proposals

From: Jeff Jaffe <jeff@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2019 19:16:58 -0400
To: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>, W3C TAG <www-tag@w3.org>
Cc: David Singer <singer@apple.com>, Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>, Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Message-ID: <e7a9b24d-4f17-dcf8-ceae-e93b06e00068@w3.org>
[dropping Process CG and AB]

[adding back AB members who were in the TAG session]

On 9/13/2019 5:21 AM, fantasai wrote:
>
> Topic: W3C Objection Decision Council
>
> RESOLVED: Council should pick its own chair, per issue, by consensus,
>           falling back to a vote if that fails. (Goal is to choose a
>           neutral chair for the topic.)
>
> RESOLVED: Chair must be a member of the Council
>
> RESOLVED: If FO not resolved in X days, chair MUST report status to AC.
>           Report MAY be public. Suggest 90 < X < 180. 

It is not clear to me that these were proper resolutions of the TAG 
since I had raised an issue with them, which AFAICT was not addressed.  
I apologize that due to the use of Google Hangouts, the fact that I was 
in China, and poor connectivity (I was driving in a car for much of the 
session), I did not adequately tee up my issue.  Now with more time and 
space, let me raise the issue more completely.

First the issue.  I queued up to say:

    /"Reading through the discussion I am concerned about the
    degradation of the role of the team.  The team has a vital
    responsibility to make sure things don’t get stuck in forever
    analysis. I believe that is why we asked the ceo to chair the
    council. The ceo is only one of many many votes."/

This issue was recognized by the chair (Peter) and dumped from IRC into 
the cryptpad [1].  But I cannot find any record where it was actually 
discussed.

Let me now elaborate on the issue.

A locus of formal objections in on charters.  The team will work with 
interested parties, vet an idea, and raise a charter with the AC.  
Objections are not infrequent.

Today, the Director decides what to do about the objections. While at 
times he does that personally (e.g. EME), it is often delegated to the 
team.  I am not proposing that we take that approach in Director-free.

A frequent feature of these objections is that there is a group of 
stakeholders at W3C who want to do something that may not be within the 
orthodoxy of current browser thinking.  It is not unusual for the 
objections to come from browser vendors.  Some recent examples include:

  * Verifiable claims.  In this case, the team worked very hard to
    develop a charter that was sufficiently focused that key objections
    were avoided.
  * Hardware security.  In this case the team never went forward with a
    charter and we lost some key members (e.g. Gemalto) as a result.
  * Once semantic web fell out of favor, I believe there was pushback on
    some charters related to Semantic Web / Linked Data / Open
    Government Data.  In these cases, the team generally pushed the
    charters forward.
  * EME.  EME does not fit into any neatly describable box.

My concern is that the Council, allowing itself up to 180 days to reach 
decisions, and potentially guided by their own groupthink could provide 
DoS attacks on getting new work chartered.  My modest proposal is that 
the CEO be the convener and driver of the Council to make sure that 
things don't get stuck.  I want to make sure that W3C has someone 
involved who can be directly accountable to member concerns.

Today - and I expect for the future - individuals from browsers are 
overrepresented (measured by % of membership) on the TAG.  Of 9 
non-Director seats, browser vendors have 44% (Samsung, Mozilla, Google, 
and Apple).   Of elected seats - which will be all seats once we drop 
appointments - browser vendors have 50% (Mozilla, Google, and Apple).  
W3C Membership is quite diverse - nowhere near 44/50% of our members 
work for browser vendors. In this measure, today's AB is somewhat more 
diverse than the TAG, but browser representation tends to be high on the 
AB as well.

Overall, I think that is a good thing that we have high browser 
participation on these senior councils.  But it emphasizes my concern 
that we need to ensure that someone is accountable to the other 
communities who are trying to start new work.

(Indeed, as I reflected on this issue and did this analysis, I am 
concerned that there is a broader design flaw with the Council - that in 
practice - lonely voices might get shut out.  Since I don't have a fix 
for this at the moment, I have merely focused on the three resolutions 
above.)

(Also, a potential concern, is that if communities feel that the Council 
does not allow them to get their work done, that it might encourage 
people who do not have the deep technical expertise of today's TAG to 
run for the TAG simply to ensure that they have a voice in the Council.  
That would be an anti-pattern if that were to happen.  We need the top 
technical experts on the TAG.)

Thanks for listening.

Jeff

[1] 
https://cryptpad.w3ctag.org/code/#/2/code/view/cxEPi19HNoOuqoiPR20FgQjSBouH1ulojTyTANhIe90/
Received on Saturday, 14 September 2019 23:17:09 UTC

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