W3C

Working Group Publication Requests and Approval

In response to some questions about W3C process from the past few days, I would like to make available this brief FAQ.

Q. Who makes the decision within a Working Group to request publication of a W3C Working Draft?

A. The Working Group. The W3C process says:

“The Chair MUST record the group’s decision to request advancement.”

Working Groups must fulfill certain criteria before requesting publication, and as the document matures towards Recommendation, there are reviews of the publication request to ensure that the criteria for publication have been satisfied.

See section 7.4 of the W3C Process Document for more information about what criteria the Working Group must satisfy in order to advance a document on the Recommendation Track.

Q. Can a group participant stop the group from requesting publication?

A. No.

To promote consensus, the W3C process requires Chairs to ensure that groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor to resolve them, whether these views and objections are expressed by the active participants of the group or by others (e.g., another W3C group, a group in another organization, or the general public).

Furthermore, per the previous question, the Chair may record a decision where there is dissent so that the group may make progress. When the Chair believes that the Group has duly considered the legitimate concerns of dissenters as far as is possible and reasonable, the group should move on.

A dissenter may formally request that the Director consider the dissent as part of evaluating the related decision. This is done by raising a Formal Objection. A record of each Formal Objection must be publicly available.

Furthermore, the expectation is that the Status section of a document should say when there is not consensus (see the Manual of Style and Process document for information about what is useful to include in a Status section).

Q. For most W3C drafts, who approves the Working Group’s request to publish?

A. The vast majority of publication requests are not disputed, and they fall clearly within the scope of the Working Group’s charter. Although the W3C Director has responsibility for approving publication requests, on a day-to-day basis he delegates (see W3C Team) this responsibility to others on the W3C management Team as described in the public documentation about W3C technical reports. The W3C management Team escalates to the attention of the Director when necessary.

Q. Have there been concerns raised over whether the HTML Working Group should publish some of the documents currently under consideration?

A. Yes. Procedural concerns have been raised about whether some of documents (HTML+RDFa, HTML Microdata, and HTML Canvas 2D Context) fall within the scope of the HTML Working Group charter, or whether another W3C Working Group should develop them. Such concerns appropriately arise from time to time. In the current case, the concerns have been raised consistent with W3C Process, including the requirement to have a public record of concerns available for review. While the concerns are being given due consideration within the community, the W3C Staff expects that if the Working Group requests to publish the relevant documents, the Status sections will clearly note that there is disagreement on the scope question.

7 thoughts on “Working Group Publication Requests and Approval

  1. “A record of each Formal Objection must be publicly available.” Is there a public record anywhere of a Formal Objection by Adobe? How does the Management Team determine that something is a Formal Objection instead of a simple objection?

    Is there a single place where Formal Objections are listed at w3.org?

    In the most recent HTML WG teleconference notes it says “plh: we won’t approve the FPWDs until the FO is resolved.” What does resolved mean in this context? Since a First Public Working Draft does not require consensus, is a note in the Status section enough to resolve a Formal Objection? Is the telecon notation accurate at all?

    People are using this as shorthand for “Adobe is blocking publication of HTML5 and it won’t be published until Adobe removes the block.” This FAQ appears to focus only on the fact that the HTML5 WG can go ahead and request that the FPWDs be published. If anybody who has a Formal Objection is still not satisfied, is that likely to block W3C Management Team approval of publication of the FPWDs?

  2. Another question: according to http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/policies.html#WGAppeals, “When group participants believe that their concerns are not being duly considered by the group, they MAY ask the Director (for representatives of a Member organization, via their Advisory Committee representative) to confirm or deny the decision. The participants SHOULD also make their requests known to the Team Contact. The Team Contact MUST inform the Director when a group participant has raised concerns about due process. . . .Any requests to the Director to confirm a decision MUST include a summary of the issue (whether technical or procedural), decision, and rationale for the objection. All counter-arguments, rationales, and decisions MUST be recorded.”

    Has anybody used this process to object to the publication of the FPWDs in question, or in any other matter related to HTML5?

    1. It is my understanding that the Group has not yet made a formal decision so this bit of process would not yet be applicable. Having said that, the ongoing discussion with group participants resemble the communication this appeal process entails.

  3. “A record of each Formal Objection must be publicly available.” Is there a public record anywhere of a Formal Objection by Adobe?

    No. (See Larry Masinter post below.)

    How does the Management Team determine that something is a Formal Objection instead of a simple objection?

    We ask people who raise Formal Objections to clearly label them as such.

    Is there a single place where Formal Objections are listed at w3.org?

    Not that I am aware of. Traditionally they are attached to individual documents.

    In the most recent HTML WG teleconference notes it says “plh: we won’t approve the FPWDs until the FO is resolved.” What does resolved mean in this context? Since a First Public Working Draft does not require consensus, is a note in the Status section enough to resolve a Formal Objection? Is the telecon notation accurate at all?

    In the present situation and unlike what I said during the HTML teleconference, we will not hold the publication of the documents if the procedural concerns are not resolved. We would however insert a note in the status of some of the documents.

  4. “”A record of each Formal Objection must be publicly available.” Is there a public record anywhere of a Formal Objection by Adobe?”

    There is not, and was not, a Formal Objection by Adobe, and thus there is no record of any such. I did have discussions about the process for escalating a concern if it came to that. But there couldn’t be a Formal Objection to a Decision, because no Decision had been made.

    I did want to ask a question of scope, in the manner suggested by the Working Group chairs. Thus, as requested, I communicated directly with the W3C staff. This discussion did not occur on public-html@w3.org because the chairs had asked to minimize such discussions:

    Clarification: We think it is fair game for Working Group members to apply their opinions of what is in scope in deciding whether to support or advance work. We would rather not see lengthy discussions about scope on public-html. If anyone is unhappy with a Working Group decision because he or she feels a work item is outside the scope of the charter, then that participant may ask the Chairs to consult with the Team on the proper interpretation of the Charter. If the participant is unhappy with the result of that consultation, then the usual avenues for recording disagreement apply, including stating an ordinary objection for the record, raising a Formal Objection, or if he or she feels that due process was not given, report concerns to one of the Team Contacts.

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