Lotsa laughs

Chris Lilley chris at w3.org
Tue May 25 19:25:30 BST 1999

Didier PH Martin wrote:
> Hi Chris,
> Thanks for giving more info about W3C composition. You stated that w3c makes
> specs and this is right but a lot of people treats this as "standard".
> You also said that some of these specs are brought to ISO for
> standardization. Good, more of them should follow the same path ;-)
> It seems that we need more and more a good map of different "standard"
> institutions and be careful of where we put the tag "standard" and what's
> behind this word.

Yes; but on the other hand, if product vendor X announces some new
product and describe their new protocil or format (totally proprietary
and undocuments) as "the new standard" and it, for exanmple, it covers
the same ground as an existing W3C Recommendation, then we do the world
no favours if a magazine editor rings us to do a sidebar on the WE3C
spec and we don't promote it, in that forum, as being "more standard"
than product X.

> you said:
> > I don't think it is fair to say that no Americans can help produce
> > internationalised specifications. People like Francois Yergeau, Glenn
> > Adams and Gavin Nicol (three of the four authors of RFC2070,
> > "Internationalization of the HyperText Markup Language") are all based
> > in the Americas (USA and Canada). [The fourth author was Martin Durst,
> > who is Swiss and works for W3C, out of the Japanese host institution.]
> reply:
> I understand your point but isn't RFC2070 under IETF?

Three points

a) You seemed to be asserting that Americans in general, (and the
preponderence of them in W3C) made us incapable of producing
internationalised specs and it was that which I was refuting
b) RFC 2070 was used by the W3C HTML WG as part of the creation of HTML
4.0 and it was a requirement that HTML 4.0 be completely compliant with
that RFC
c) The authors all work for W3C member companies, or in one case for W3C
itself. In the case of "now works for" I don't think that joining W3C
made him suddenly less interested in Internationalisation; if anything,
he had more time to devote to the subject.

> Thank for the precision. You are very right on this. ISO represent
> governments not necessarily communities or conquered countries. I also agree
> on ISO Speed of action (very slow). 

Thats another difference between W3C and ISO - in W3C we are designing
stuff, not just ratifying it, and we don't have infinite time to do so,
typically a year or less. We typically have a bunch of divergent
interests to try and satisfy and we also want it to fit into the
framework of existing Recommendations and concurrent work in different
working groups, and we want to get buy-in from implementors and web
designers.... in less than a year.

> We also tend to forget ( the public)
> what ISO is and what the word "standard" means, or what behind a word like
> "standard" :-)
> So, with this perpective should we say that instead of talking of "standard"
> for a lot of actual technologies we should instead talk of "proposal" or
> "recommendations"?

I would certainly very much like for people to differentuiate between:

 - a submitted Note, which has no status or commitment to further 
 - a working Draft, which is under active development at W3C, and 
 - a Recommendation, which has been reviewed by W3C Members and 
   endorsed by the director.

> Thanks Chris for bringing more info on what's behind W3C.

I hope it was helpful. To those who are bored with the process stuff, my
apologies; I just wanted to set the record straight.


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