W3C's 'Moral Majesty'

David LeBlanc whisper at accessone.com
Sun Sep 19 05:50:30 BST 1999

At 10:23 PM 9/18/99 -0400, Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
<a whole lot of stuff in reply to Don Park>

Having followed this thread and others of it's kind here and in various
other places, I would like to submit a modest proposal which might satisfy
all parties.

I believe that the real problem underlying the complaints aired in this
thread is that those people who are expected to promote and adapt
reccommendations issued by the W3C seem to have little voice in the
development of those reccommendations.

TB-L and others have pointed out that the participants of the WG, in many
cases, are reluctant to have their opinions etc. made public. Reasons given
are unimportant - resolving them is the issue I want to address.

As I understand it, WG's are constituted from member's employees and
non-member "invited guests or experts". It also seems that these WG's are
themselves the ones who will develop the reccommendation they are charterd
to create.

If, instead of being a development group, WG's where more of a steering
group that:
	outlined the goals;
	issued periodic progress notes;
	issued periodic requests for comment;
	published the replies to requests for comment;
	organized and prduced the final reccommendation;
then I think we would all feel that we had made a contribution to
<whatever> and that we had some voice/influence in it's development.

Someone is bound to point out that is precisely what WG's already do. There
are two changes I propose. Firstly, that all WG's have a requirement to
inform and consult with the interested community on a reasonably frequent
basis. The community so informed has no formal status in the WG (i.e. no
voting rights), but does have the right to comment and contribute on the
development issues and drafts on a consistant basis. Secondly to implement
this, that progress notes, requests for comment and drafts be put up on the
W3C site in the form of a wiki - an interactive document that anyone can
annotate. (Indeed, I would think that a private form of this would be a
great tool for the WG's themselves for their internal development

I think the formation of this sort of auxilliary to the WG's solves many
problems: the WG gets feedback from qualified interested individuals (ok
some flakes will appear too), the WG ends up with a better product from all
the additional time and expertise brought to the development; and the
interested user community has an avenue of communication and influence on
the recommendations that they will end up using.

Sorry if any or all of this is ideas that have been previously proposed,
but i'm not aware of any.

Dave LeBlanc

P.S. As long as i'm on a soapbox, how about creating a W3UG ("Wug") - The
WWW User's Group. Perhaps members are the ones who participate in the
so-called WG auxiliary. Fees (and if it is as big as one might hope, there
would need to be) would be as low as possible and based on the W3C's actual
costs in administrating membership in the group. (I would hope that annual
fees would be less then $50 and hopefully $25 or less.) - dhl

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