What is it?

CommonScribe is software which converts the log of a chat session into a fairly-readable record of the meeting, assuming participants follow certain conventions during the meeting.

CommonScribe grows out of a long tradition at W3C of using an IRC channel during meetings. One key practice is that for each meeting, one person is selected as the "scribe" and has the duty of recording all important information. Because the scribe types on IRC, other participants can see their work as it happens, offering improvements as necessary. Afterwords, a tool such as CommonScribe is used to make the chat log easier to read.

Using CommonScribe

  1. If you don't see RRSAgent on your IRC channel, type: trackbot, start meeting
  2. On IRC, when you start scribing, type: scribe: <your-name>
  3. On IRC, each time someone say something in the meeting, type: <name-of-person>: <what they say>
  4. On IRC, each time a new topic is started, type: topic: <description of next topic>
  5. Look for the meeting records under https://www.w3.org/2013/meeting
  6. Use the EDIT link (upper right of the minutes) and change the log as necessary.

For more details the User's Manual.

Compared to Scribe.perl

CommonScribe borrows heavily from the conventions of David Booth's Scribe.perl, but differs in a few key ways:

  1. The original motivation was to allow people to edit the minutes on a Wiki. The first attempt (putting the output of scribe.perl on the wiki) did not allow people to fix problems like forgetting to identify the scribe. With CommonScribe, "scribe: ..." lines can be added/editted easily, during or after the meeting.
  2. CommonScribe has a notion of people. Many attributes of a meeting and events during a meeting involve particular people. Where scribe.perl treats the names of people as opaque strings, CommonScribe treats the names as referents which should be resolved unambiguously. After the meeting, the meeting records should be cleaned up to make sure everyone is identified.
  3. With this in mind, CommonScribe has an object model which is amenable to data processing, such as querying for Resolutions or searching for all text attributed to one's self. No such interface is currently provided, however.
  4. CommonScribe assumes tracker will take care of action items, so it doesn't try to highlight them. Instead, it tries to stay out of tracker's way, and to link text like action-NN and issue-NN to the tracker page for the item.


CommonScribe is used by handful of groups, visible at https://www.w3.org/2013/meeting. If you'd like your group added, contact sandro@w3.org.

Bugs, Open Issues, Ideas

Sandro Hawke, W3C
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