[microformats-discuss] FYI: Boyd on Microformats and Structured Blogging

Tantek Ç elik tantek at cs.stanford.edu
Tue Oct 11 14:37:25 PDT 2005

On 10/11/05 11:45 AM, "Danny Ayers" <danny.ayers at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 10/11/05, Tantek Çelik <tantek at cs.stanford.edu> wrote:
>> So I suppose people could drum up a conspiracy theory about Microsoft and
>> Technorati working on open standards...
> I seem to remember someone drummed up just such a theory about Atom,
> based on the fact that a couple of the most active participants (i.e.
> "leaders") worked for IBM. Also a recurring line from contributors who
> had found their proposals rebuffed was that it wasn't really a
> community affair, all decisions being made at the centre (I called
> something similar out myself more than once, but was satisfied by the
> chair). There was plenty of crit in the blogosphere along similar
> lines, highlighting the cliqueyness of the group. But Atom had the
> defence of being an IETF project, rough consensus and so on providing
> some form of open credentials. Without such a defence, extra vigilance
> in avoiding us vs. them confrontational stances might be needed to
> avoid bad press. Even if y'all do know best ;-)

All excellent points.

The best defense that we are mounting against these kinds of criticisms is
to literally keep as much as possible of the dialog and discussions around
the development of microformats (no matter how primitive, or embarrassing or
whatever), out in the open.

Open irc channel.
Open email discussion list with open archive.
Open wiki with history.
Documentation of issues and discussions and resolutions on the wiki.

This way, at least anyone who cares to actually go find out can go track
down how things were decided the way they were.

A lot of this helped Atom a lot, and I believe is helping microformats as
well in contrast to other efforts which are either developed for weeks or
months on private email lists, or on private wikis, and only "released" as
"open" when the powers that be think they are done.  (Caveats: of course
people have private email conversations about format ideas that they feel
confident discussing in public - that's perfectly fine.  I'd like to also
encourage folks to just try out ideas in the irc channel as well.  And that
means that everybody else should be gentle, constructive, and helpful with
feedback/criticism, in order to keep the *tone* open, in addition to the

When you see/hear someone who is critical with genuine criticism (i.e. not
just someone ranting to hear themselves or stir up controversy for the sake
of more readership), invite them to contribute and help out.  Sometimes
people are bitter and cynical and critical because they feel "left out".
The best antidote for that is to simply invite them in and introduce them to
the community.

The rest is up to us to form and use good processes as a community, and to
treat community members with respect even if (especially if) they appear to
be trolls.

So far we haven't had to bump anybody off the mailing list, which is unusual
for a community of our size.  Let's all work hard to keep this up as we



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