confidentiality in W3C WGs

Ronald Bourret rbourret at
Tue Sep 7 11:11:18 BST 1999

Lauren Wood wrote:

> The only really good reason I see for the confidentiality agreement
> that exists in several W3C Working Groups has marketing, public
> relations, and politics at its base.
> [very good reasons for maintaining confidentiality snippped]
> So sometimes you need confidentiality, to build trust and a
> knowledge that what is said in a WG remains within that WG, so
> that people can concentrate on the technical work, and not on the
> politics.

I've only briefly been following this whole discussion, but I don't think 
anybody has asked for names of who wanted one namespace and who wanted 
three and who wanted the discussion to simply end because they were late 
for a flight.

I believe what people requested was an explanation of why the change was 
made: at the very least, what arguments convinced the WG that it was 
worthwhile, and hopefully a discussion of the alternate positions and why 
they were rejected.

This kind of information, whether normative, in a non-normative appendix, 
or simply provided in a forum like XML-DEV or an annotated specification, 
is very helpful in getting buy-in for a specification and, let's face it, a 
spec isn't useful if nobody buys in.

In my experience, most people will listen to an explanation.  They might 
still disagree, but the reaction is often, "Yipes!  I see what you mean," 
and in any case explanations almost always help smooth the acceptance 
process. On the other hand, when somebody is told, "That's private," the 
feel rejected and throw out the good with the bad, not for technical 
reasons, but for purely human ones.

-- Ron Bourret

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