Encouraging-Participation

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The W3C has a wide and diverse community of participants. Yet, a few louder voices dominate. We may be missing out on a lot of good ideas from the silent majority.

For years we have implored speakers to speak more slowly, and to not use jargon. Most cannot seem to remember to do so. What else could we try, to help the bulk of the audience better understand presentations and contribute to discussions?

Many, for whom English is not the first language, are shy to speak out, fearing their English isn't adequate. For others, their culture is traditionally not as out-spoken. Yet others are embarrassed to admit they don't know how some of the tools work (such as IRC). And then the realities of time zones and distance add additional confusion.

This Task Force is open to all!
Please help us with any ideas that might smooth the path to encourage and enable better participation. If you want to join a little 'task force' to work on this subject, put your name on this page: Participation Promoters

What other barriers have you experienced, limiting your or others' participation in W3C? (You are invited to contribute, even if you don't want to join the team.)

Some categories that have been mentioned are as follows. Please contribute, or add new categories!

What Do We Mean by Participation?

INSERT HERE: clearly define what participation means for this context. For example, is this about lack of participation in the Consortium's technical work, lack of participation in the TAG, lack of participation in ...

It might help to consider 'life-cycle' phases, and the attractors and repellents in each phase. One acronym in this field is AIR -- Attract, Incorporate, Retain. What about the W3C attracts or repels likely members? Once attracted, and they try to join, or join, do they feel that they are getting 'inside' effectively, or do they remain 'un-incorporated'? Once on board, do they stay on board, or do they try to leave once the initial impetus has been satisfied?

Problem Statement

When there are key stakeholders not participating in W3C's work, we run the risk of developing something that is not suitable for some segment of the relevant "market". Doing so wastes our investment, and provides an opportunity to develop a more relevant alternative outside W3C. If a better alternative is developed, then it also contributes to fragmentation - precisely the problem W3C is meant to reduce.

@@clearly define the Problem Statement.

Examples Where Lack of Participation is Harmful

The following examples represent personal opinion.

The XHTML2 work proceeded despite all mainstream browser vendors leaving the group. This resulted in XHTML2 not getting significant implementation and therefore being unusable except in controlled publication chains. At the same time, the initial work on HTML5 was done outside W3C - both in WHAT-WG and as non-standards-based work by individual companies, in a manner reminiscent of the "browser wars" of the mid-late 90's.

WCAG 1.0 was developed with very low participation from people with expertise in a vast range of learning and cognitive disabilities, leading to a specification that was overly reliant on text as a universally appropriate way to communicate.

Multiple APIs for access to the underlying File system have been proposed in the Web Apps group. Each has been produced by a single vendor, who implemented it, with no real participation from others. This has led to a situation where after 7 years we still get requests for this functionality from content developers, but no effective response from browser vendors each of whom is not really interested in working on another system.

INSERT HERE: enumerate examples where lack of participation has been harmful. Quantify the consequences if Members or Communities A/B/C do not participate in X/Y/Z

AB Task force

Objectives (Goal of this Task Force)

  • Primary focus: Identify best practices to help Members improve participation; especially addressing issues of:
    • language
    • culture
    • time zones
    • ... what else?
  • Overlaps with questions of:
    • effective AC / TPAC meetings (wiki started by Yosuke Funahashi: http://www.w3.org/wiki/ACMeetingValueProposition)
    • openness
    • ability for people to join (continuum from CGs, BGs, invited experts, members, participation on public lists, Office outreach, ...)


Milestones

  • create initial work space (wiki: http://www.w3.org/wiki/Encouraging-Participation) [done; 9 Oct 2013]
  • announce the Task Force, seek participation [done; email and tweets 9 Oct 2013]
  • TPAC:
    • announcements of plans ahead of time [need target date]
    • at TPAC, initial introductions (champions, IRC demo, barcamp intro, questions via IRC, webcast?, solicit inputs and reactions, ...) [need target date]
    • post TPAC, seek reactions & data [need target date]
  • ongoing: TBD, pending results from above [need plan and target dates]


Approaches

  1. Wiki(s) where we're inviting contributions
  2. Question: do we need a mailing list? Or (my preference), should we use ac-forum, or another already in existence?
  3. Provide venues for people to share or seek advice in private (e.g., private note, telephone call)
  4. Activities / approaches we will line up for TPAC, as experiments
    1. Ahead of TPAC, write to the AC-forum on what is going to be done to facilitate participation at TPAC (IRC projected, q+ in IRC, etc.), and how people are expected to proceed.
    2. At TPAC, have someone quickly introduce key aspects of this activity. Preferably, we will designate a few people to assist or field questions, and can introduce those people as such. (NOTE: can we put some sort of identifier on these people?)
    3. During TPAC, make clear that the TF work is being tested and any input/suggestions during and after the meeting are welcome. Again, designated champions preferably are identified as the people to go to (at breaks, at lunch, whenever) for that. Perhaps we can add a couple questions about these activities in the follow-up questionnaire?
    4. Follow-on, after TPAC ... TBD

Time-frame

  • October 2013 (launch of AB objectives 2014) to the end of 2014 (since it's part of AB objectives 2014)
  • hopefully, ongoing

ToDo

  • Define the (Public) e-mail list this effort uses.
  • Define the deadline for comments, inputs, etc.

Barriers to Participation

Time Zones

Issues with languages

Cultural inhibitors

Learning new tools (e.g., IRC)

Not a W3C member

What Else?



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