[uf-discuss] The legal-discussion policy

Rohit Khare khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Sun Aug 5 19:52:51 PDT 2007

In my previous email, I announced a decision by the admins to enforce  
a policy that was precisely the one Joe Andrieu was unwilling to  
support: that legal and governance issues be raised privately with me  
first. I would like to explain that policy.

Manu Sporny, in http://microformats.org/discuss/mail/microformats- 
> The only attempt at explaining this why we cannot speak about legal
> matters is that nobody on here is a legal expert, including the  
> admins.

That is fair enough (it's quite true that none of the admins are  
lawyers!). I have also observed over the years that comments made  
inadvertently or in passing, once archived and electronically  
discoverable, can be reused out of context to significant effect.

As to Mr. Sporny's suggestion that we enlist legal help, that appears  
to contradict the current interests of the microformats community  
generally, and the current admins specifically: to avoid adding legal  
and governance overhead to this experiment.

Time spent volunteering to turn microformats into something they're  
not -- standards -- and turning microformats.org into something it's  
not -- a standards body -- necessarily comes at the expense of work  
on the actual matters at hand.

I think that's especially apt when there's an open invitation to  
other, "real" standards bodies to adopt microformats under their own  
processes -- especially under the latest initiative to voluntarily  
place contributions into the public domain.

Joe Andrieu, in http://microformats.org/discuss/mail/microformats- 
> I understand the complexities of going "official". It is not  
> something to be done lightly. But these issues aren't going away, no
> matter how much the leadership shuts down conversation here and on  
> the wiki.

As I have explained to Mr. Andrieu and others, I may be over- 
cautious, but since we certainly don't want to be "forced" into going  
"official" by behaving like a de facto standards development  
organization, it's especially important the entire community (not  
just the admins) be careful in what they claim publicly. Personally,  
I'm not even happy with the existing use of the "s-word" in the hCard  
spec, either.

Finally, as to "Why me?," I can only say that of the volunteer  
admins, I'm the one holding this particular short straw. In the past,  
when I was an employee of CommerceNet Consortium, LLC, I began  
investigating these issues and became the default point of contact.  
Please don't hesitate to email or call me, and I'll do my best to  
convey concerns to the rest of the admins and offer feedback on how  
best to discuss these matters further on the mailing list and/or wiki.

-- Rohit

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