[Standards] Process Wonkery

Dave Cridland dave at cridland.net
Thu Sep 30 08:56:09 UTC 2021


Kev Smith noted that we have been a bit weird about handling updates to
XEPs from authors during the Proposal phase (that is, Proposed state, from
Last Call through to completion of a vote to Stable).

1) When can authors update XEPs?

XEP-0001 is fairly unspecific about when updates to a XEP can be published
(ie, when PRs can be merged). More or less, it says they should be, but
from Stable onward only with Approving Body permission.

This means that during a Last Call updates can be made, changing the XEP
while people are reviewing it, which seems potentially awkward to me.

Once a XEP has gone before Council, we have developed a habit of discussing
PRs before a merge to see if they'll clear Council objections - this
streamlines the logistics but is clearly not what the process demands.

The timeline for a Proposed XEP currently looks like:

t=0 Last Call Starts
t=2w Last Call Ends, Advancement vote in Council

I'd be interested in views on whether we should require authors hold
updates to the XEP during Last Call, which would lead to:

t=0 Last Call Starts
t=2w Last Call Ends, Update Window
t=n Update Window Closes, Advancement vote in Council

Opinions welcome from Authors, Council people (past and present), and
others in the community.

2) Who are Authors anyway?

Authors have special rights with XEPs, especially Experimental - they can
more or less change them at whim, and although the intent here is that they
capture community consensus, there is no oversight. Additionally, there's a
bit of kudos involved in having one's name at the top of a XEP.

In practice, Council has added (and removed?) Authors, and we added an
"escape" to XEP-0001 in the form of Document Shepherds.

What I'd like to propose here is that XEP-0001 properly captures who
Authors are (initially, the original Submitters listed on the document, all
of whom must agree to the IPR policy), how new ones are added (by Council
approval, in consultation with the existing Authors if possible), and how
dormant/inactive Authors are removed (here be tygers; I'd like to propose
maybe marking them as emeritus or something less latinate).

I'm not bound to this approach, but I think done correctly, this can
obviate the need for Document Shepherds entirely, so this might -
astonishingly - simplify our process.

Again, opinions welcome!

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