[uf-new] The Process

Manu Sporny msporny at digitalbazaar.com
Wed Sep 12 09:06:53 PDT 2007

Brian Suda wrote:
> Edward Deming set-out 14 points.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming#Deming.27s_14_points
> #11. Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas, and management by
> objectives. Substitute leadership.

With all due respect, Brian... we're back to hand-waving... which is
frustrating. "Substitute leadership" is vague... what kind of leadership
should we substitute? Authoritarian? Benevolent dictator? Constitutional
Republic? Mob Rule? Should the "leadership" be of the Microformats
author, or of somebody in The Cabal? I agree with you in philosophy...
but we need some more specific guidelines.

When we don't have clearly defined goals, it's difficult to know if
we're getting anywhere. We don't have to use hard numbers, but we need
something more specific than what you have just outlined.

Why can't we agree to a simple set of guiding principles of when a
Microformat should be considered? For example:

A Microformat should be considered if:

1. There are more than 100 websites that mark up the type of data in
   the problem statement of the proposed Microformat.

A Microformat should be created if:

1. There are more than 1000 websites that mark up the type of data in
   the problem statement of the proposed Microformat.

> Quantity does not equate quality!

I agree with you in principle, but I think the Microformats community is
botching the execution on this.

> The other thing that might help the example gathering is if more
> people were involved. If one person goes out and finds 200 examples,
> but no one else is helping, then is there really a reason to keep
> pushing the process?

Yes! They have found 200 examples of the data in the wild... that shows
that the data exists out there! If they can find 200 examples, that
probably means that there are many more websites that contain that data.

You say that we shouldn't use numbers... but now you're saying that the
number of people working on a Microformat is relevant?

> Microformats work best when there is an "itch to
> scratch", not a personal issue to solve. 

What constitutes an "itch to scratch"? I'd say that the number of
websites that are publishing the data in a Microformat Problem Statement
 is very relevant. I don't think anybody would argue that if we could
find 10,000 websites publishing a certain type of data, that we
shouldn't consider a Microformat for those websites.

> Many formats have collected
> many, many examples, but there is just no interest at the current time
> to move it forward. Just because things can be checked on the process
> list doesn´t mean it should. This is the current state of the
> media-info, people did some homework, and saw there wasn´t community
> interest.

Again, with all due respect Brian, I disagree completely. As you can
already tell, I'm not a very big fan of goals that can't be measured.
So, here is how I'm proposing that we measure "interest in a Microformat".

Interest in a Microformat should not be measured at the beginning, but
over the lifetime of the Microformat. From beginning to the point of the
final draft. This can be measured quite easily by looking at the number
of contributors on all of the pages for each Microformat, and the number
of people that took part in the discussion on the mailing list and
normalizing that number by the number of months the format has been
active. Here's an analysis that I've been doing in my spare time of how
this applies to some of the current Microformats:

hCard      contributors: 263     normalized (26 months): 10.11
           authors     :   2

hCalendar  contributors:  85     normalized (26 months):  3.27
           authors     :   2

hAtom      contributors:  62     normalized (22 months):  2.81
           authors     :   3

hResume    contributors:  54     normalized (20 months):  2.70
           authors     :   5

hAudio     contributors:  35     normalized ( 6 months):  5.83
           authors     :   2

hReview    contributors:  53     normalized (26 months):  2.03
           authors     :   6

VoteLinks  contributors:  23     normalized (26 months):  0.88
           authors     :

xFolk      contributors:  12     normalized (26 months):  0.46
           authors     :   1

With these examples above, we can see several patterns. hAudio has a
fairly high "normalized interest level"... but it has been proposed that
we not move that forward until there is "more interest". It's interest
level is higher than all the other Microformats listed, except for hCard.

This is part of what is frustrating - even when we present data like
this, it is sometimes ignored by the Microformats administration.

> --- this is also why POSh has been pushed more. We have also been
> adding things to the process, like "first make sure you site is POSH,
> it validates and uses existing microformats". Then and ONLY then
> should more people be allowed to propose new formats. This would also
> FORCE an understanding of some of the more basic things before a
> proposal and frustration of "not understanding".

I'm a big supporter of asking everybody to POSH-ify their website before
attempting to create a Microformat. However, that only gives you a very
basic knowledge of what it takes to create a Microformat. It also has
nothing to do with The Process. The frustration that I'm outlining is
that The Process is quite vague related to accomplishing certain key New
Microformat tasks.

-- manu

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