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The W3C has a particular set of tools that are used for conducting meetings and running the business of the Consortium. Many participants are not as good with these tools as they might be.

They may not know that a tool exists; they may not understand the value of a tool; they may be shy to admit they don't know how to use something; they may not know where to go to get help; and/or the help that is available may be hard to quickly understand.

What are the most important W3C tools, and how can we help people learn to use them?

Mailing List

It can be discovered with AuditForm (requires W3C member access) that some working group participants are subscribed to the internal mailing list (member- prefixed) by the system, yet they never subscribe to the public mailing list (public- prefixed) where the technical discussions take place, even if the welcome later says as strong as "Please make sure to subscribe to that list." There are some possible reasons why this happens:

  • The WG newbie has trouble subscribing the public list.
  • The WG newbie doesn't believe the importance of the public list albeit what the welcome letter says.
  • The WG newbie doesn't want to subscribe to the list because he/she doesn't like mailing list discussion.

I think we should do our best to help people of the first two cases but we should not make people of the third case feel like we are threatening them. Some possible solutions:

  • During the start of each F2F meeting, the WG chair could remind folks of the importance of the public mailing list and potentially provides hands-on help (setting up email filters and such).
  • Have the system subscribe new WG participant to the public mailing list, but allows him/her to unsubscribe (I think Web Apps WG does this).
  • Other...?

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is extensively used within the W3C. Every meeting -- whether virtual or face-to-face -- is scribed in real-time in IRC. Meetings are managed via IRC, such as, using some custom commands for managing the speaker's queue, the agenda, resolutions, tracking and running the phone system, and so on. IRC is quite easy to learn, yet many don't really know how to use it.

  • IRC help resources .. put link(s) here...
  • Ann Bassetti thinks the IRC information that is available is still too difficult for beginners. She volunteers to draft some very basic instructions, which will go into a new IRC Instructions wiki page.


What else...?


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