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Showdown in Geneva: OOXML Fails to Achieve Majority Approval at BRM
Authored by: Alex Brown on Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 10:10 AM CST
Andy hi

Allow me to sympathise with your difficulty in understanding the JTC 1 rules, the BRM resolutions, and the conceptual framework surrounding them. These are hard topics. Normally standards people learn about such things through training, experience, mentoring and study. Not through floundering around in the comment section of a contentious blog entry, whose key assertions are the highly misleading consequence of a lack of understanding and suitable data.

Would you agree with me that your blog has become the epicentre of much of the current public understanding surrounding the BRM? Are you proud of that?

First, I simply _cannot_ _believe_ your entry title, which states "OOXML Fails to Achieve Majority Approval at BRM". Anybody who has read any of the key documents associated with this process (the Directives, the FAQ, the agenda, even my blog for heavens sake) knows that the BRM does not "approve" or "disapprove" OOXML. That is BRM 101 stuff. Had you really not grasped the basic fact that the meeting only changes the text, and does "approve" or "disapprove" the spec?

Now, turning to some of your other issues:

> If the only vote received was from an NB other than the NB that had lodged the comment
> it seems that this vote would prevail.

This is a nonsense statement. NBs vote on proposed dispositions, not comments. This concept of the comment sponsor having extra weight in their vote is completely alien to ISO and IEC voting procedures. What strange place is this stuff coming from?

> If only two votes were received on that disposition, one from the NB most interested
> and one vote from another NB, and the two votes were not the same, then two would cancel out,
> if I understand the process correctly.  What exactly would that tell you?

The only two kinds of vote that would "cancel out" are an approve and a disapprove. In this case the vote on the disposition would be a tie and the disposition would not be approved. Draw from that what conclusion you want!

> If no one voted on a single disposition (even the original NB that made the comment
> that generated the proposed disposition), does that mean that it's a good one, or that
> no one had the time to really think it through, or couldn't decide?

Who knows what it means, this is voting not mind reading. BTW, there were no such "unvoted on" dispositions.

> those dispositions that were discussed were almost invariably changed

well yes, obviously. If a country brought up a disposition for discussion it would probably be to get some change made, right? It is a false inference from this that _every_ comment would require NB change.

> Does that sound like a rational way to do the analysis?

Andy, I wish you many happy hours with the spreadsheet. But I'm not sure what you propose will get you anything useful or significant.

> if someone chooses not only not to vote on an individual disposition,
> but to abstain on the rest, then it's hard for me to see this as anything
> other than "no comment."

NBs abstain for all kinds of reasons, so you should hesitate to interpret it in any particular way. In my experience, abstention most usually signals the wish to register a lack of technical understanding or engagement (which is perfectly ok).

> But was that actually a good idea?  My personal view is that [...]

The key point here is that it was, almost by definition, a good idea because it is WHAT THE MEETING VOTED TO DO. With no dissent.

Andy, you then go on to make some general criticisms about the Fast Track process which are all fair play (not that I will comment). However, I am very concerned about the misleading headline of your article and the misleading presentation of figures which supports it, leaving aside sundry other inaccuracies which are less important but which could usefuly be corrected once accurate information is available from ISO and IEC, and a fuller picture can emerge.

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