[whatwg] "due consideration"

Eduard Pascual herenvardo at gmail.com
Fri Jul 24 04:03:46 PDT 2009

On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 10:04 AM, Maciej Stachowiak<mjs at apple.com> wrote:
> Ian gives more careful consideration and more thorough responses to comments
> than any other specification editor I have seen in action. I've commented on
> many W3C standards and many times I've seen comments raising serious
> technical issues dismissed without explanation, or just ignored. I have
> never seen that with HTML5.

Is that really enough?

Let's take a long and well-known controversy as an example: Microdata.
It is true that Ian has given the topic very careful consideration,
and a lot of thought; but what is the result? There are already
several existing solutions that HTML5 could have adopted, most
prominently (and most argued for) RDFa, but also EASE, eRDF, and
others. During the discussions, people who have been working on Web
Semantics for *several years* contributed their knowledge, expertise
on the topic, and ideas.

By the end, Ian opted to create an entire new solution, disregarding
years of previous work on the subject and the significative base of
already existing RDFa authoring and consuming software. But that
solution has an complexity that is roughly equivalent to that of RDFa,
has no implementation nor existing content support so far, and can't
even handle all the use cases that RDFa could handle. The only
significative advantage of that proposal was that it used reversed
domain names to identify vocabularies instead of namespace prefixes;
however, there has been a lot of controversy about reversed domains
actually being better than namespace prefixes.

Even if we asume that reversed domains are slightly better (it's not
likely that they are much better if there is so much division about
the topic), is that worth the costs of: 1) Limiting the range of use
cases that can be handled; 2) Requiring new tools to be developed from
scratch; and 3) Requiring content to adapt to this new format? These
are huge costs. Especially, when we put 2) and 3) together, content
authors will be forced to keep supporting RDFa tools (as long as a
significant part of the audience is still using RDFa-related tools),
so they will need to duplicate metadata to support Microdata as well.
Wasn't duplication one of the issues inline metadata was intended to

Please, note that my intention is not to bring back this discussion.
It is just an example of controversy that will be known by most
participants on this list. Actually, I have no intention to step into
that debate again for a while.

<The point>
I do not doubt of Ian's good faith, nor of his huge effort in making
HTML5 the best possible thing it might be. However, I doubt of the
sanity of having an individual to have the final say about any topic,
even above expert groups that have been researched and discussed the
topic for years.
Just because the fruit of so long work can't be properly sintetized in
plain-text e-mails doesn't mean that there is not enough value on it.
Going back to the example, there was a lot of people involved in RDF
and RDFa since 1997. That's already twelve years of continuous work
and research by several people. HTML5 replaces all this effort (RDF
and RDFa) with that of a single person over few months (Microdata).

Honestly, I can't say for sure which method would be best for HTML;
but I'm still convinced that having a single gatekeeper with absolute
power over the next web standard is, at least, insane.
</The point>

Eduard Pascual

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