W3C Tooling Policy

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DRAFT Process Document Additions (Formal Policy)

The following text is proposed for adoption into the official W3C Process, and is currently under review by the Advisory Committee. See Process CG Draft; contents reproduced below.

W3C Process: Tooling

For W3C Groups operating under this Process, a core operating principle is to allow access across disabilities, across country borders, and across time. Thus in order to allow all would-be participants to effectively participate, to allow future participants and observers to understand the rationale and origins of current decisions, and to guarantee long-lived access to its publications, W3C requires that:

  1. All reports, publications, or other deliverables produced by the group for public consumption (i.e. intended for use or reference outside its own membership) should be published and promoted at a W3C-controlled URL, and backed up by W3C systems such that if the underlying service is discontinued, W3C can continue to serve such content without breaking incoming links or other key functionality.
  2. All reports, publications, or other deliverables produced by the group for public consumption should follow best practices for accessibility worldwide and for persons with disabilities. Network access to w3.org itself may be assumed.
  3. Persistent text-based discussions sponsored by the group pertaining to their work and intended to be referenceable by all group members should—and official meeting minutes and especially records of decisions made must—be archived by W3C for future reference. This includes discussions conducted over email lists or in issue-tracking services or any equivalent fora.
    Note: The lack, or loss, of such archives does not by itself invalidate an otherwise-valid decision.
  4. Any tooling used by the group for producing its documentation and deliverables or for official group discussions should be usable without additional cost by all who wish to participate, to allow their effective participation regardless of disability or geographical location.
    If a new participant joins who cannot use the tool, this can require the Working Group to change its tooling or operate some workaround.
  5. All tools and archives used by the group for its discussions and recordkeeping should be documented such that new participants and observers can easily find the group’s tools and records.

The Team is responsible for ensuring adherence to these rules and for bringing any group not in compliance into compliance.

Issue: Link to policy document with detailed recommendations / best practices / additional info once we have it.

Background and Motivation

(Does not form part of the proposed policy).

Problems and Non-Problems

W3C is a long-lived organization, with commitments to make its work, and the rationale that led to it, available indefinitely. W3C is quite likely to outlive [insert your favorite Web service here], and broken links are a particular pet peeve of ours. We're also a world-wide organization that wants to make participation accessible to everyone.

What we want to do

  • Make sure documents that W3C intends to serve as a reference to be available worldwide to everyone for as long as W3C exists.
  • Make sure that anyone who wants to participate in W3C is not prevented from doing so by choices in tooling.
  • Make sure that the discussions and proposals leading to W3C deliverables are archived so that the rationale for past decisions can be understood and evaluated.

Problems we want to address

  • Serving things off e.g. github.io means that when that service goes down, even if the material is backed up, all links to it will break. W3C documents intended for the general public should not have this vulnerability, but many of them (e.g. a number of TAG and i18n reference documents) currently do.
  • Using discussion tools whose records are not backed up by W3C risks that all of the discussion record gets lost. (For example, the OpenType discussion archives and proposal history almost disappeared entirely with the demise of Yahoo Groups.)
  • Using Google Docs for proposals is convenient, but they are not accessible from China and are not archival. This can be worked around (e.g. by posting a PDF copy to www-archive), but frequently is not, resulting in incomplete archives and problems for participants from China.

What we don't want to do

  • Restrict the tooling choices of a closed group of people who develop or choose a tool to use amongst themselves that they are all happy with, even if there exist other people in the world who cannot use that tool.
  • Require any group in W3C who wants to develop or use a new tool for any purpose to perform or pay for a thorough accessibility audit before they are allowed to try using that tool.
  • Impede our ability to explore new tools and move with the times.

Lists of use-cases needs wants

The above lists of have a variety of use-cases, needs, and wants for W3C Tooling. This is an attempt at a summary raw list, not ordered:

  • Stable W3C Documents meant to serve as references (like specs)
  • Stable discussions (like minutes) and proposals used to produce those Documents
  • Links in those discussions to stable W3C documents
  • Freely available tools for participating in those discussions
  • Ability accessible tools for participating in those discussions
  • Internationally accessible tools for participating in those discussions
  • Freedom for/of closed groups to choose a (potentially new) tool among themselves to improve their own efficiency and effectiveness

Stable meaning URLs don't break, w3.org URLs rather than github.io.

Freely available meaning no monetary cost to per use, or sign-up, including the cost of creating another account, the cost of submitting private information (address, DOB etc.), etc.

These seem to have three clusters / values, in rough attempted order:

  1. Longterm stability of stuff produced
  2. Broad enabling & encouragement of participation in that production
  3. Distributed freedom to improve how groups do that production to maximize their efficiency