In the post entitled Something went wrong at the W3C? Anne van Kesteren has a collection of links to rants about the W3C from Web-standards geeks that is sober reading. The post is excerpted below
Something went wrong at the W3C? Lets see:
- To Hell with WCAG 2
- Leaving W3C QA Dev.
- An angry fix
- SVG12: brief clarification on formal objections
- SVG Tiny 1.2 in Candidate Wreckommendation stage
- What's Wrong With The SVG Working Group
- Angry Indeed
Reading some of these rants takes me back to days I used to work on the XML team at Microsoft and how I grew to loathe the W3C and standards bodies in general. All of the above links are recommended reading for anyone who is interested in Web standards. An observation that stood out for me was taken from Joe Clark's rant, To Hell with WCAG 2 where he wrote
And now a word about process, which you have have to appreciate in
order to understand the result. The Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines Working Group is the worst committee, group, company, or
organization I’ve ever worked with. Several of my friends and I were
variously ignored; threatened with ejection from the group or actually
ejected; and actively harassed. The process is stacked in favour of
multinationals with expense accounts who can afford to talk on the
phone for two hours a week and jet to world capitals for meetings.
The WCAG development process is
inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t speak English. More importantly,
it’s inaccessible to some people with disabilities, notably anyone with
a reading disability (who must wade through ill-written standards
documents and e-mails—there’s already been a complaint)
and anyone who’s deaf (who must listen to conference calls). Almost
nobody with a learning disability or hearing impairment contributes to
the process—because, in practical terms, they can’t.
This sounds like an apt description of the W3C working groups I used to track, namely the XML Schema working group and the XML Query working group. Both of which [in my opinion] have done more harm than good for the Web and XML by simply existing and retarding progress with the technologies they have
failed to produced.
The question I sometimes ponder is what's the alternative? De-facto standards based on proprietary technologies seem to be one option as evidenced by the success of RSS and IXMLHttpRequest. There is also something to be said about the approach taken by Microformats community. Either approach seems preferable to the current mess we have with the W3C's approach to standards development.