a round on the house.

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Daniel Chudnov

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Mar 30, 2007, 3:13:14 PM3/30/07
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It's been pointed out to me by several members of this list that my rant
last week didn't exactly seem rational or even in keeping with this list's
raison d'etre. I can understand how it might have seemed that way, and
the last thing I want to do is squelch discussion for no good reason.
It's also been pointed out to me that this list has always had an
exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio, and that last week's discussion
I interrupted was no different, so, essentially, "wtf, dchud?"

It's also clear that although we might like to carry notions that the
relationships we build up over the years of working together (as many on
this list have done) matter, all of that might be lost or irrevocably
broken in an instant via irrational or otherwise poorly stated opinions in
an online forum such as this.

I stand by my request that if you want to work on hCite or other projects
formally under auspices of microformats.org, you really need to do it
using microformats.org resources, and not here, although general
discussion of microformats is fertile ground for this list.

That said, I'll flail about one more time trying to explain why I was
worried enough to jump in like that. I doubt it'll be any better, but
I'll at least trust you all to let me know if I appear any more rational
or not. :)

The process we followed last year for unAPI was thrilling and was one of
the most rewarding experiences of my career. That so many people I deeply
respect and have admired for years were willing to jump in and share ideas
and opinions and try stuff out was a rush - and that you were all willing
to do so in the experimental "let's get this done in four months following
some guy's arbitrary rules" fashion we followed was even more exciting.
It was also utterly exhausting and wore out my productivity for months
afterwards.

I have no idea whether it would make sense to try writing another spec
that way, but I'm really glad we did it. I'm even more glad to be on a
list with colleagues willing to try something like that, who would suspend
disbelief long enough to forgo what most of us know about "how to get
formal stuff done" and to try something different. At some point maybe we
should discuss that itself, though I won't try to start that thread today.
:)

Having said all that, I also admit that I've found it very frustrating to
attempt to engage the microformats.org community itself. They are also
trying to make up process and stick to it as they go, but the way they are
doing it seems less even-handed, and bizarrely cathedralish (to attempt to
put into a mangled pun what appears to this outsider to be a mangled
process), compared to the experience we've had here.

If somebody wants to take the lead on writing up some new spec that
engages people here, using whatever process you desire, I'm all for that,
so long as people here are interested. I wouldn't ever want to squelch
that kind of discussion or any alternate process on this list, so long as
everyone's up front about it, and sticks to the process as agreed as much
as is reasonable.

As much as I admire the microformats.org work, I don't see the
microformats process as reasonable, or even-handed, or even
self-consistent. That's even okay - laws, sausages, and standards, right?
The work that does make it out of microformats.org is awesomely good work,
so, of course I'm still interested. I just don't necessarily want to
stick my neck out into it very far again.

Because of that, and because I respect the work output of the
microformats.org community so much, I want to honor its progenitors'
choices of how to move forward, however much I disagree with their
choices. At the same time, I want this list to continue to be a place
where people can try out new processes and projects, but, again, I'm all
for that so long as you're up front about how you plan to move forward,
and stay as consistent as you can within that.

To me, the potential problem shows up when the work of an external group
with its own process and its own occasionally-irrational moderators edges
onto this list. The last thing I want for this list is for it to become
embroiled in some cross-list flamewar about whose version of which spec is
the current one and where the official discussion is taking place and
whether there's a fork, etc. In such matters, the potential for
exhaustion and productivity-ruining are not bounded.

I'll repeat that I don't think that was happening here (like I said in my
first message). I'll also readily admit that I jumped too quickly to
address a concern that was very far off in an imagined future and probably
not rational by sharply imposing my whimsy as a rule, especially where few
if any rules pre-dated it. I won't do that again.

I'm encouraged that nobody unsubbed last week, so maybe I've used up one
get-out-of-jail card in your minds, or maybe we're all so jaded from list
flamewars that we know that it's best to just wait things out and things
will probably work out. Even so, I just want y'all to know that I'm sorry
that I did such a bad job trying to moderate something that probably
didn't need moderation.

Love, -Dan

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