confidentiality in W3C WGs

Oren Ben-Kiki oren at
Mon Sep 13 19:34:38 BST 1999

Tim Bray <tbray at> wrote:
> At 12:49 PM 9/13/99 +0200, Oren Ben-Kiki wrote:
> >The more this thread continues, the more I'm getting convinced there's
> >something wrong with the W3C. Obviously there is a reason why proper
> >documentation is not being provided.
> Well, there is
> which is a public document.

The process is well known. In fact, it is pretty reasonable, with one
significant exception that the archives of minority views and their
dispositions are not available to the public. Unless I'm mistaken, these
archives form most of what would be called "the rationale" of the final
recommendation. The reason for not appending these archives in some form to
the final recommendation are not given. For example, this form could be a
formal issue/considerations/decision format, with identities of the parties
involved removed.

> And I can't find the documentation just now, but I know (as co-editor
> of multiple W3C specs) that we are required to produce a written
> "disposition of comments" on all public (not w3c, public) comments sent
> to the address on the published WDs and PRs.  And there are lots of them.
> And sometimes they're good comments that change the draft.

Are these "disposition of comments" documents available to the public?

> Not that I'm saying W3C process is perfect.  Nor that this debate
> isn't useful. -Tim

Actually, I don't think this debate is proving to be very useful.

The W3C has a "Communication Team" whose purpose (amongst others) is to
"Strengthen W3C's image in the Web community through good public relations".
In almost two years that I've been reading this and other W3C related public
mailing lists, I haven't seen a single official posting from such a group.

Given the frequency that the W3C process itself was the subject of the
discussion, I can only deduce that "the W3C" simply does not care. A bit
more rationale documentation and some appropriate PR would have easily
defused these feelings when they were first raised. The questions posted by
people in these mailing lists could have been used as a guide to improve the
rationale documentation so that the final recommendations would have been,
if not different, at least easier to understand.

For the record, I fully appreciate the effort invested by some W3C members
in trying to make up for this lack in an informal manner. It is unfair that
they should be the ones to bear the burden of all the anti W3C attacks.
Maybe they should forward some of the traffic to the communication team :-)

Share & Enjoy,

    Oren Ben-Kiki

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