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Subject: RE: [chairs] TC FAQ Template

On Mon, 13 Feb 2006, Hal Lockhart wrote:

> Every TC has a public comment list. Historically, something like
> half of the comments are actually questions. I suggest the FAQ
> template simply point readers to the public comment list for the TC.
> Hal

For some TCs, historically, something like half (or more) of the
"comments" are actually spam. [1]

Pointing readers from the TC's FAQ document (template) to the public
comment list might not be the optimal solution:

a) spam in the comment list archives may suggest to a casual
   reader that the comment form facility is broken, or otherwise
   unsiutable as a mean of getting an answer to a question

b) some TCs might feel that use of the TC public comment list
   for Q&A will "screw up our comment tracking" [2]

c) asking a question on the TC public comment list involves
   trying to use a communication channel that has been
   deliberately crippled by a change in the TC Process [3]

I say "crippled" in "c)" because at one time, it was permissible
to use the public comment list for general public discussion of the
TC work. That allowed someone to ask a question, receive an answer,
request a clarification, receive a clarified answer, and so forth
(dialogue, discussion). According to the memory of some (including
my memory) that was originally the intended purpose of of the
comment list. [4]

Rules for use of the comment list as a two-way communication
channel were changed when the TC Process was altered to read
"comment facility", with the stipulation that discussion would
not be countenanced; see now TC Process 2.8 TC Visibility"
"... a means to collect public comments" ... "The purpose of the
TC's public comment facility is to receive comments from the
public and is not for public discussion."

Use of the comment form instead of direct email opened up
a hole for spammers [5], and the TC Chairs seemed not
entirely happy with the change [6].

Irrespective of the spam problem, which may be fixed by
reverting back to email: Questions are clearly different than
comments in terms of human communication process.

Within OASIS Staff, I am now trying to create consensus around the
position that OASIS should support archived, two-way communication
(discussion, dialogue) between the TCs and the public.  Some
TCs use the *-dev lists for common questions; others feel
that the *-dev lists should be reserved for technical details
of implementation, not for garden-variety questions from
interested members of the public who think of themselves as
possible users, not as "developers".

Robin Cover


[1] spammed lists (examples):


[2] Jon Bosak, "Misuse of ubl-comment list


[3] Whereas originally, according to some versions of history, the
TC comment list was *specifically* designed as a mechanism to support
two-way dialogue and discussion [4], the TC Process change was
designed to prevent discussion 

[4]  http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/chairs/200309/msg00026.html
Jon Bosak: "Actually, the intent of the comment lists *was* to provide
a forum for public discussion.  It's a feature of the OASIS process that
I've pointed to with pride in presentations to thousands of people
over the last couple of years.  Guess I'll have to stop doing
that. -- Jon

Contrast Karl Best: 

"This is supposed to be a one-way pipe to get public comments into the TC.
Admittedly some TCs have stretched this a bit to make them discussion
lists, which I haven't fought too much against, but the original (and 
purpose is comments"

[5] http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/chairs/200312/msg00009.html

 "I see. Unfortunately, you've also opened a hole into which spammers
  can throw things[1]. And there are plenty of spamming spiders out
  there smart enough to do so."

[6] Comments about the comment form

**  Lauren Wood

** Drummond Reed

**  Rich Thompson


** Heather Kreger

"What's the purpose of excluding any public discussion for TC's?
Having a public an TC private list is fairly common practice in
other organizations I've been involved in (W3C, JCP) and it was

** Rich Thompson

** Drummond Reed

"Dropping active public comment lists appears to be a step
down in openness. That's generally not a good thing. Are there
particular reasons driving the change?"

** Ram Kumar

"I 100% agree with Jon. It *was* indeed a great tool for public
discusson. I always advised the public whoever I came across..."

**  Karl Best

** Robert Philpott

"I do worry a bit about not being able to ask follow-up questions
without engaging in private email exchanges that should probably
be kept public."

**  Rex Brooks

... I have to say that I
find the current policy to have, in effect, killed the public comment
lists, to the detriment of the TCs and OASIS at large at a time when
many of us are trying our best to improve the stature of OASIS in the
arena of standards bodies. This is a shame,...


> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Carol Geyer [mailto:carol.geyer@oasis-open.org]
> > Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 2:50 PM
> > To: 'Paul Knight'; chairs@lists.oasis-open.org
> > Subject: RE: [chairs] TC FAQ Template
> > 
> > Good point, Paul.
> > 
> > Many Committees, such as the OASIS Security Services TC
> (http://www.oasis-
> > open.org/committees/security/faq.php), include a statement
> > such as "If you have a question that is not answered here, or if you
> have
> > questions or comments on any of the answers provided, feel
> > free to contact the editor <link to an email address of a TC member
> who
> > has taken on the responsibility for maintaining the FAQ>."
> > 
> > 
> > If anyone has other ideas for encouraging reader input to FAQs, please
> let
> > me know.
> > 
> > 
> > Carol
> > 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Paul Knight [mailto:paul.knight@nortel.com]
> > Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 11:37 AM
> > To: Carol Geyer; chairs@lists.oasis-open.org
> > Subject: RE: [chairs] TC FAQ Template
> > 
> > Hi Carol,
> > 
> > Is there any way for FAQ readers to actually ASK a Question? (other
> than
> > the mailing list?)  One great frustration with most FAQs is
> > that they don't answer the questions people really want to ask,
> because
> > there is actually no clear way to A a Q.
> > 
> > Regards,
> > Paul Knight
> > 
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Carol Geyer [mailto:carol.geyer@oasis-open.org]
> > > Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 10:54 AM
> > > To: chairs@lists.oasis-open.org
> > > Subject: [chairs] TC FAQ Template
> > >
> > >
> > > OASIS Committee Chairs:
> > > Each OASIS TC is provided with an FAQ page, linked from the upper
> > > right column of the TC's public homepage. This FAQ is a very
> important
> > > resource for helping prospective members, press, analysts, and OASIS
> > > staff better understand your work.
> > >
> > > The OASIS Technical Advisory Board has compiled a list of generic
> > > questions that provide a basis for all TC FAQs. This is a great way
> to
> > > get started writing your FAQ, but naturally, you are free to add
> > > questions specific to your work. Also, keep in mind that edits to
> > > posted FAQ can be made at any time.
> > >
> > > Please take a moment to review your TC's FAQ page. Send new text or
> > > edits to me, and we'll get them posted as soon as possible.
> > >
> > > Again, *all* OASIS Committees should provide information on their
> > > pages. It is particularly crucial for TC's preparing to submit work
> > > for approval. Press releases announcing new OASIS Standards must
> > > reference an updated FAQ.
> > >
> > > TAB Recommended Questions:
> > > http://www.oasis-open.org/apps/org/workgroup/tab/download.php/
> > 11675/tab-generic-faq-approved.txt
> > 
> > 
> > Many thanks,
> > Carol
> > 
> > 
> > ______________________________
> > Carol Geyer
> > Director of Communications
> > Voice: +1.978.667.5115 x209
> > 
> > OASIS Symposium: The Meaning of Interoperability
> > 9-12 May, San Francisco
> > http://www.oasis-open.org/events/symposium_2006/
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 


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