W3C, Process and Perception

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Terry Goodkind said:

The mice think they are right, but my cat eats them anyways. This is the point, reality is nothing, perception is everything.

We all live in our own world of perceptions and the world is shaped with these. I have read recently read a blog post by Arnaud Le Hors saying:

Having been primarily involved in W3C both as a staff member and a member company representative I had grown to expect a certain quality level which has led me to be genuinely baffled by the whole OOXML experience. I just didn’t know how superior the W3C process was compared to that of ECMA and ISO/IEC. I just didn’t know those organizations had processes which are so broken that they would allow such a parody of a standards development to take place and such a low quality specification to be eventually endorsed as an international standard.

There have been discussions within the W3C for a long time as to whether it should seek to become a PAS submitter and adopt a policy to systematically submit its standards to ISO/IEC. I used to think it should. I no longer think so. The W3C process is so superior to that of ECMA and ISO/IEC, it’s these organizations that need to learn from W3C and those who are working for the W3C standard label to be recognized at an international level in its own right have all my support.

Arnaud's words touched me; the full article is worth reading. It reminded me of my time working with Web technologies (in Web design agencies and organizations) prior to my W3C hiring. I was very condemning about W3C and its standards development. Then with time, with the accumulation of experiences and understanding, I realized (more than knowing) that the platform which is offered by W3C is a good compromise.

For sure, my words will be taken suspiciously because I'm right now an employee of W3C. Nothing is perfect at W3C. There are still issues, but the organization is flexible enough that it knows how to evolve when necessary. People have a tendency to forget this. When I have been hired almost 8 years ago, the notion of test suites for a W3C specification to be published was considered as a big burden and not in the scope of W3C Working Groups. One of the reasons, I had been hired at this time was to change this mindset. It has been hard, painful sometimes, but we did it. The "we" include some W3C members, the wonderful participants of the former QA Working Group and the dedicated work of the W3C QA Team, including Dominique Hazaël-Massieux, Olivier Théreaux and myself.

It is sometimes hard to understand how W3C is working. I have in the past tried to explain how all pieces fit together on mailing-lists or here on this blog. I see comments on mailing lists and blogs which should not be said, harsh words between people. Be careful about your perceptions, assumptions, they lead you sometimes in fights. This is not right.

W3C is a community platform where people can work on Web technologies with different tools. One of these tools is the W3C Process. Use the tools for working.

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