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Still Misleading
Authored by: Alex Brown on Monday, March 03 2008 @ 05:19 AM CST

Andy hi

To follow up on our exchange above ...

I must thank you for your kind words -- but this is not personal, or a question of friendliness (I’m sure you are a lovely chap), but a question of accuracy and ethics.

Your headline has now transitioned from being "not even wrong" to "wrong". If you want to fix it you should remove the words "fail to". However, since this is not then a very on-message headline for you I suggest maybe you should have something like "OOXML still in flux as clock ticks down" or "BRM performs emergency surgery on OOXML in desperate rescue attempt" or some such.

I think it is wrong for you to claim your original headline was some kind of necessary counterbalance to Jason Matusow's: his was predictably on-message (from the MS POV), yours was (and is) factually misleading.

Also, by my records Charles Schulz was not a BRM delegate as you categorize him.

You then raise several points about the adequacy of the Fast Track process. Fair enough; no comment. On the particular questions about in-meeting voting I can tell you:

  • Yes, it was a good idea to take votes (congratulations to the BRM on wisely choosing this route)
  • Yes, it was within my, and the meeting's, powers to allow it
  • Yes, what happened was fully in accord with the JTC 1 Directives (O-member voting and all)

OBVIOUSLY (given the red hot controversy here) voting procedure was discussed in minute detail, and decided, in consultation with ITTF before the BRM started. I (as somebody primarily used to SC participation, rather than fast tracking) had some un-learning to do, and I think some other commentators do too. If a country has a complaint it can appeal formally -- that (rather than wittering to the press) is the correct way to do it.

You then turn to the question of what votes "mean". Rather than venturing further into the mental maze you have made for yourself, let's take an actual example and work it through.

Consider a very simple and uncontroversial Response, no. 637. This concerned a comment raised by AFNOR (France) that noted an "extraneous square bracket at the end of [a] line". AFNOR's suggested solution was "remove the extraneous square bracket."

Ecma's proposed response to this was to edit the text to remove the square bracket.

Now, this is just a PROPOSED resolution; in order to make it into the DIS text (unchanged since Jan 2007) it HAS TO be blessed by the BRM. BRM delegations can take one of three positions on Ecma's proposed response. They can:
  • approve (broadly, "yes, we want Ecma to do this")
  • disapprove (broadly, "we do NOT want Ecma to do this")
  • abstain (broadly, "we don't know/care")

A key point here is that if no decision is taken, nothing happens. In other words, if no decision is taken the text stays in its original state.

Now imagine you are a NB considering voting on Response 637 -- Andy, what would you have voted for in this case? And would you have been happy not to be able to take any decision at all because of time constraints?

Now multiply this process by 800 and you'll know what voting was. For added realism, try staying awake all night, and wearing this: http://www.cafepress.com/freesociety.234283639 (thanks to the Portuguese delegation).

The voting form also had boxes for registering an overall position, purely as a labour-saving device. So if (for example) you as an NB approved 700 responses and disapproved 100, you could simply record an overall position of "approve" and then mark the 100 disapproved comments as "exceptions" to your overall vote. To save typing, many NBs (as Inigo Surguy has noted above) simply recorded an overall position of "abstain" and then recorded the exceptions to that position. Your reading of significance into the way this overall position was recorded is about as sensible as reading significance into whether NBs user uppercase of lowercase “X” characters on their voting form!

Finally, I deplore your mention of the Nuremburg Defence (“only following orders”) in relation to my role as convenor. Invoking the Holocaust (however indirectly) as a suitable parallel to a document format standardization project shows a total failure of perspective.

- Alex.
[ # ]
  • Voting Procedure - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 03 2008 @ 04:33 PM CST
  • Still Misleading - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 04 2008 @ 09:12 AM CST
  • One more question - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 05 2008 @ 05:23 PM CST
  • Still Misleading - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 04:21 AM CDT