From W3C Wiki
The W3C HTML WG has not been operating like any other W3C working group ever. We expect that to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. Instead it operates with the following understanding:
- Editors have wide latitude in what they put in their drafts. If they wish to put something in their document which does not meet with any objections from anybody in the work group, they are free to do so.
- Contributors may work with editors however they see fit. The public-html mailing list is preferred, but IM, other mailing lists, and face to face are all acceptable. If this results in the editor making a change, the rules in #1 above apply. In particular, note that no change to a document based on input that takes place exclusively off of this W3C public-html mailing list can be considered a decision of the W3C Working Group.
- Members of the working group may raise issues at any time. Issues are to be raised on the public-html mailing list, need to be specific and contain an actual proposal to be considered OPEN, and will be indexed by the tracker list. Until resolved, if three independent members of the working group agree that this is an issue, editors are expected to include a brief summary of the issue in subsequent working drafts until the issue is resolved. The people who raised the issue are encouraged to produce the wording for such notes.
- From time to time, people will have different visions. It happens. When that occurs, those people are encouraged to produce their own draft. Again, three independent people participating in the development of such a draft is generally considered a minimum requirement for such to be considered a product of the working group, but this will not be evaluated or enforced on documents which are perceived to be non-controversial (example: the HTML5/HTML4 differences doc).
- When a group decision needs to be made, for example on an issue or on publishing a draft as a product of the working group, it is the co-chairs role to assess whether or not there is "sufficient consensus" in the working group to proceed. The co-chairs have wide latitude on ways to access such consensus. Identifying three independent supporters, placing a message out on the mailing list soliciting objections, waiting a sufficient period of time, and noting for the record at a later date that no objections were produced is an example of how things work in a healthy working group. At other times polls or even votes may be used, but these approaches will tend to be avoided.
- All Chair actions are appealable to W3C management at any time. This is particularly true for actions that differ from the charter. Which means that even if every member of the working group and both chairs agrees that we should add, for example, data storage APIs, it still could be appealed due to charter concerns.
A few notes:
- a) 'Independence' is up to the chairs to evaluate on a case by case basis. Independence is not assessed exclusively on company boundaries.
- b) The 'three independent' rule is often necessary but generally not sufficient, whether it be in matters of deciding whether an issue is to be raised or if a draft is to progress. For example, a draft may be developed in good faith by three upstanding members of the working group, but not have sufficient support to warrant progressing. Three people may raise an objection that has no coherent proposal and not be recognized by the chairs as being OPEN.
- c) A subtle point that merits further explanation: it never is a goal of the chairs to replace an editor. However chairs can recognize that the draft produced by an editor fails to have the support of the working group, resulting in that draft failing to meet its heartbeat requirement. Additionally, other members of the working group are free to produce drafts which contain substantial portions of text from the original draft, and such drafts may later be recognized as products of the working group.
- d) For the above to work effectively, chairs must earn the trust of the working group, and members of the Working Group must make a reasonable effort to give each other the benefit of the doubt. If you see something surprising, consider asking a question rather than imputing that nefarious motives are at play. It also means noting issues and moving on instead of attempting to stop the work of others, no matter how deeply you might disagree with that work.
And finally, a few words about this mailing list. For this to be an open process, it is necessary that we establish the mailing list simultaneously as a place where everything of importance occurs, and as a place where everybody who has an interest in doing so can keep up by reading every message. These requirements conflict at times.