Consensus and Community (W3C and xml-dev)

Len Bullard cbullard at
Fri Sep 3 15:13:50 BST 1999

Mark Nutter wrote:
> At 04:24 PM 09/02/99 -0400, you wrote:
> >What Simon wants, of course, is the rationale.  *What* was the compelling
> >argument that made the HTML WG reverse itself on this point, so close
> >to PR?
> Are we sure there was a (singular) compelling argument?  What if the WG
> reached its conclusion after a long and convoluted debate (such as the
> debate that's been going on here lately)?  Supplying a concise rationale
> might be a "non-trivial" task, might it not?

That the discussion is long and convoluted does not relieve the
of documenting the rationale for the change.  When doing a review, it is 
common practice to note the objection to the text, the reason for the
and the suggested change and consequence of the change.  Two points are 
being advanced that are separable and simple:

1.  Multiple namespaces in a single vocabulary are unnecessary and 
complex.  This can be confirmed or refuted by citing requirements, 
examples, and counterexamples.

2.  The process of closed deliberations and closed documentation of 
rationale used by the W3C impedes the progress of developing,
and implementing the technology.  It engenders fear, mistrust and
The delegates of the consortia are responsible for these outcomes.

A separate but valid debate is if if the W3C can be said to be creating 
standards at all.  The process and constitution of authority suggests to 
me that the W3C creates technology, not standards.  There is nothing 
wrong with that and in fact, it is a better path for consortia.  The 
W3D (VRML, X3D) consortium works with ISO to co-develop standards.  The
consortium creates 
the technology, and ISO is the authority for the standard.  This 
arrangement is working.  The W3D as a member of the W3C works 
with the technology within which its products must function.

Because the processes of the W3C are closed to non-members, and if 
those here consider the XML users, developers, vendors, etc. 
a Community, then events like this are PRECISELY when you should 
become involved even if the noise level is high.  Stick to the 
issues, don't kick each other, do let it pass when you do 
(humans here all; we get emotional and that is a strength), 
and push on.   There is the difference in community and 
consortia.  Without tolerance, self-restaint, and 
compassion, you have little chance of reaching consensus.


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