[whatwg] Corrections and clarifications to the WhatWG charter

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sun May 27 03:22:09 PDT 2007

On May 17th in #whatwg, Ian said:
> <zcorpan_>  
> http://www.thewebcreator.net/2007/04/16/why-you-should-be-using-html 
> -401-instead-of-xhtml/#comment-23 (same article)
> <Hixie> the last comment on that blog entry highlights one of the  
> weirdest things i've repeatedly seen on the web
> <Hixie> "HTML 5.0 vs XHTML 2.0 (commercials companies vs W3C)"
> <Hixie> the idea that the W3C, which you have to pay thousands of  
> dollars to to become a member, and which is entirely member-driven, is  
> somehow less "commercial" than the WHATWG, which can be joined by  
> anyone

I've also seen this occasionally, and it occurs to me now that the  
WhatWG Web site may be to blame. <http://www.whatwg.org/charter#member>  
> Membership is by invitation only, and consists of a number of  
> representatives from various browser manufacturers. This group, which  
> is referred to as the members, will provide overall guidance as  
> described in the charter above.

This is trivially false: the member list includes Dean Edwards, who is  
not a representative of a browser manufacturer. More importantly,  
though, it does not make clear the difference between a WhatWG member  
and a W3C Member. And it apparently precludes, for example,  
accessibility aid developers from being invited as members.

Another problem with the charter itself is in this section:
> During development, the working group may decide that a document has  
> reached a stable stage and is in need of wider review. At this point  
> the document will be archived in its current state, and a  
> call-for-comments will be announced. Drafts in this stage should bear  
> a warning informing readers that the specification is not considered  
> ready for non-experimental implementations, and that experimental  
> implementations of the draft must not be included in end-user  
> products.

Such a warning would undoubtedly be ignored, which would reflect poorly  
on the specification. For example, browser vendors would not suddenly  
remove the <canvas> support they already include in end-user products  
because a call-for-comments had been issued for the <canvas>  
specification. The warning that is currently used in the HTML 5  
specification itself is much more realistic: "Implementors who are not  
taking part in the discussions are likely to find the specification  
changing out from under them in incompatible ways."

Finally, the charter should be updated to refer to HTML 5 rather than  
Web Forms 2.0 and Web Applications 1.0.

Matthew Paul Thomas

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