This public document was enacted on 6 December 2017, following approval by W3C Management and the W3C Advisory Board, and came into effect on 13 December 2017.
There are various places in the W3C Process where individuals might raise a Formal Objection to the Director of the W3C. Today, there are limited guidelines about how these issues should be addressed. This document outlines Best Practices for complex cases that the Director delegates to another individual.
Part of the reason that there are no written guidelines is because the W3C Director is expected to employ a strong sense of fairness to resolve issues in a way that is in the best interests of the Web. This requires expert human judgment, making it difficult to require that the Director process Formal Objections in any particular manner. At times, however, the Director might find it advantageous to delegate the processing of a Formal Objection, so it is sensible to establish a set of guidelines and best practices for that case.
As a general rule, not all Formal Objections are equally far reaching. Simple Formal Objections might be raised on a matter of proposed new policy or on Charter proposals. Other Objections might be strong and comprehensive disagreements with a consensus reached by a Working Group. It is not always easy to tell which Objections fall into which category - for example a simple Objection from EFF on the inclusion of content protection in the HTML Charter rightly took extensive discussion and analysis. This is a judgement call made by the Director.
This document sets out best practices for delegates to use in addressing complex Formal Objections. For simple objections it is not necessary to have an overly formal process. This is irrespective of whether it involves a small fix or even if (after attempting to find consensus), the Director or delegate reach a conclusion overruling the objector.
When a delegate makes a Director's decision in complex cases, to ensure fairness to all and the best solution for the Web, it is useful to be more formal and comprehensive. Below are best practices to use in the case of a delegate handling such an Objection.
In all cases, the Director will select a delegate who is neutral and fair to all sides in the dispute, and is also perceived as such. This delegate must provide special effort to ensure they fully comprehend the point-of-view of those that they decide against. Consequently, some of the language below emphasizes the sensitivity to the objector since in most cases the objector is fighting an uphill battle to get a majority point-of-view re-visited.
The Best Practices are arranged in categories.
For complex cases, the Director's decision should be reviewed by the Director before it goes out. For simple cases, W3M (acting under Director's delegation) might conclude that is not necessary.
All parties should be generally apprised of the pace of the analysis, and through discussions be up to speed on the delegate's thinking. As a result, when the Director's decision is issued, there would not be surprises for any of the parties. Communicating continuously does not impose any constraint on the delegate in making the decision, but it serves multiple useful purposes. First, it allows the parties to gradually socialize in their organization what the decision is. Second, if there is anything that the delegate misses in early analysis, it allows additional opportunities to hear about it.