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About the latest WHATWG vs W3C non-news

The following are just my own personal comments about the recent non-news regarding HTML and the W3C and WHATWG that seems to have caused the peanut gallery on twitter and elsewhere to think there’s some kind of bad new thing that’s happened. I’m not writing it in any kind of official W3C capacity, nor in any attempt to represent the views of the WHATWG  (in which I’m also been involved for years).

So first off the only new thing that happened recently is that +Ian Hickson aka Hixie cloned several hundred bugs in the part of the W3C bugzilla system that we use for tracking bugs for both the W3C HTML5 spec and the WHATWG HTML spec, and then sent out a heads-up announcement about it so that people who got the bugmail notifications from it would know why.

Old news
The fact that Hixie is no longer going to be the editor for the W3C HTML5 spec is not news. If you found that out only recently I guess you must not have been paying attention very closely. Because the HTML Working Group chairs announced that three months ago: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2012Apr/0204.html along with announcing a “stabilization plan” for HTML5. And I even blogged about it http://www.w3.org/QA/2012/04/progress_on_html5.html

Be happy
So about that anyway yeah Hixie is indeed not going to be the editor for the W3C HTML5 spec. For the record, he was neither “removed” not did he simply walk away. He and the HTML WG chairs discussed it before the decision was made, and also had a lot of discussion about details for deploying the plan. They worked on it together. In fact it had been discussed quite a long time ago as being one of the possible scenarios we might end up in eventually, so some thought had already gone into it way back then.

There are a lot of people who would say that Hixie should have stepped down as editor a long time ago. In hindsight I guess I’d say now they were right. Hixie might well say so too, I dunno. Anyway, if you are one of the people who always wanted Hixie “removed” as the editor of the W3C HTML5 spec, I guess you got your wish now and you should be happy about that.

No magic
However, if you think Hixie was somehow the ultimate cause of problems in the HTML WG and that with Hixie out of the picture we are suddenly going to have some magic way to take a few sets of people within the group who have longstanding fundamental disagreements about some core issues, and make those people suddenly start to agree with each other, then I think you’re going to be disappointed. We have no magic.

Your choice: Spend time helping or or waste time trolling
So we are now putting together an editorial team at the W3C to take over work on the W3C HTML5 spec. The plan is to have a lead editor who will work for the W3C in that role under contract, and then to have several volunteer editors to help. Once we have that plan in place, what I intend to do is to be positive about it and to work hard to help make it successful.

But I'm sure there are going to be people who instead of being positive about it and trying to make it successful, will choose to instead just troll about it on twitter or wherever, or otherwise do or say whatever other petty or misguided things they can come up with to try to cast it in a bad light. Please don’t be one of those people. 

Hey speaking of trolls, when a person tweets something like https://twitter.com/fantasai/status/226401281344950272 (“So, I think it's time to shut down the HTMLWG. No, really. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-whatwg-archive/2012Jul/0119.html”) or like https://twitter.com/hsivonen/status/226229313194835968 (“W3C HTML5 will be for lawyers. Others will be better off reading WHATWG HTML Living Standard. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-whatwg-archive/2012Jul/0119.html“) that‘s called a troll. It’s sometimes entertaining to encourage people when they troll like that, because what they say is funny, and they deserve a pat on the back for giving us some lulz. But it’s as silly to take stuff like that seriously as it would be for anybody to intend something like that to be taken seriously when they write it.

I have more to say about this but I’ve said enough for today already, and it’s beer time. Check back here for more tomorrow probably if you care.
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9 comments
 
What I meant with that tweet was that the main value of snapshots is that the Patent Policy operates on RECs. No lulz intended. Sorry.
 
I think it would be constructive to think about the W3C spec as a branch, not a fork.
 
It's only a branch if it takes a subset of the changes that the trunk takes. If it takes independent changes then it's a fork.
 
+David Baron indeed; what I should have said that /branching/ was inevitable for a stable snapshot (and should have happened after the first Last Call), and that /forking/ should be avoided though.
 
In my understanding, some technical differences between W3C HTML5 and WHATWG HTML5 have existed already.  The latter imposes more restrictions on the use of ARIA.  EPUB references to W3C HTML5.
 
I think if you're going to suggest people spend time helping the HTMLWG, you should perhaps give them at least some idea of what to expect.

It may even be worth advising new people who want to spend their time helping to avoid the HTMLWG altogether, and to subscribe to public-webapps or whatwg instead, if you want them to stick around. But obviously that's just my opinion, and I'm sure there's a range of opinions on that point. FWIW i don't think the problem is people casting it in a bad light.

I do think picking on fantasai and hsivonen is a bit off. You're not exactly a stranger to racy comments yourself (which is great btw) and as you know, a few folks at W3C, some in positions of authority, routinely use the W3C as a platform to say far worse, and definitely not for the lulz. Maybe an example or two of sub-optimal behaviour from W3C-space would have provided at least some context.
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