A plan to help TC39 become more open up to community contributions and participations

John Barton johnjbarton at google.com
Fri May 27 15:01:39 UTC 2016

Maybe also a factor: JS has changed a huge amount in a short time.
Developers, browsers, tools need to catch up, digest the changes, decide
what real problems remain. We have enough new for now.

On Fri, May 27, 2016 at 7:42 AM, Kevin Smith <zenparsing at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for pointing out some issues with the current state of things.
> While, in general, having more people directly participate in the committee
> is probably a good thing, I don't think that will fix the problem.  I think
> you'll find yourself running into the same troubles that the current
> members face.  Specifically, there is more work to be done than there is
> time to do it.  There are more things to reach consensus on than there is
> time to discuss.  Also, there is also the risk of perpetuating an unhealthy
> "us-vs-them" mentality which seems to underly this plan and this post.
> Instead (or perhaps simultaneously while you explore this plan) why don't
> we try to address the community involvement problem?
> The big problem, I think, is that community members are directed to
> es-discuss and yet es-discuss has been largely been abandoned by TC39
> committee members.  Why has es-discuss been abandoned?  There are a couple
> of reasons I think:
> 1. Github (and their "issues" feature) has turned out to be a much better
> platform for working out design details on particular proposals.  Community
> members have successfully and productively participated in the design
> process in this way.
> 2. The signal-to-noise ratio here is *really* bad these days.  Let's be
> honest: most of the strawman proposals that are brought here are pretty
> terrible.  It takes time to review and comment on even the worst ones, and
> that's time that I (for one) would rather spend doing other things, like
> working on observables, or cancel tokens, or private state, or async
> generators, or drinking eine bier.
> The other problem that I've heard mentioned is that certain high-profile
> proposals (like that function-pipe one) aren't getting any traction.
> First, there are *very* few proposals that fit into that category.  Claude
> Pache's https://github.com/claudepache/es-optional-chaining is great!  In
> general though, if a proposal isn't getting picked up it's probably because
> either it has significant issues that committee members don't like, or the
> time for it just isn't right.  Time is a limiting factor and we have many
> proposals working through the process already.
> I'll spend some time thinking about how we can improve the es-discuss
> involvement problem.  Thanks again for bringing attention to it!
> On Thu, May 26, 2016 at 8:06 AM G. Kay Lee <
> balancetraveller+es-discuss at gmail.com> wrote:
>> (This is a continuation of [a previous discussion](
>> https://esdiscuss.org/topic/tracking-proposals-should-be-standardized-with-issues
>> ))
>> So, to summarize, while rules and platforms currently in place do allow
>> for community contributions, they are hardly friendly ones. A few issues:
>> * The mailing list is a really awkward platform for community
>> participants to collaborate, especially when debates and discussions can
>> span months, even years; threads, reasonings, and important conclusions
>> tend to become buried over time, resulting in a never-ending reincarnation
>> of dead ideas and, more importantly, lose of precious lores and insights.
>> * Self-contradictory rules about the processing of community proposals in
>> official documents, because these rules were [authored by a few different
>> individuals without a definitive source](
>> https://esdiscuss.org/topic/tracking-proposals-should-be-standardized-with-issues#content-17
>> ).
>> * The most widely circulated version of these rules demands community
>> proposals to find "champions", ie. member representatives willing to serve
>> as lobbyists; the real story, however, is that member representatives are
>> very busy and, when they do have time, they will almost always lobby for
>> proposals that their organizations or themselves are interested in. No
>> blaming here because this is just the way human society works, which brings
>> the conclusion that this requirement is simply antihuman.
>> In the previous discussion, Allen mentioned that a lot of efforts have
>> already been put in place to make TC39 as open as possible under the bylaws
>> and rules of Ecma International, for which I am sure every non-member
>> participant of the standardization process is really appreciated. But I
>> think there is still room to do better.
>> For that reason I intend to form a nonprofit organization and apply for
>> Ecma membership to help further opening up the standardization process of
>> ECMAScript to interested participants who currently do not enjoy the
>> privilege of becoming member representatives.
>> I've been in contact with Secretary General Istvan and apparently this is
>> doable as long as the General Assembly vote in favor of my application, so
>> I think it's a good thing to raise this plan here and see if anyone has any
>> good feedbacks or concerns, so we can iron out these issues during the
>> early stage - or put an early end to it if there are some good reasons. A
>> legally registered nonprofit with an official "tax exemption" status is the
>> acceptance criteria for Ecma NFP members, but also requires me to go
>> through a hell lot of bureaucracy and legal works and hold a few physical
>> meetings with the presence of government dudes, so I'd really like to make
>> sure we all like the idea (**especially if you're a representative of an
>> Ordinary member organization**) before I'll go ahead.
>> ---
>> The plan is (roughly) like this:
>> Once formed, this nonprofit organization will help TC39 by voluntarily
>> overseeing and shepherding community participations. There will be a single
>> set of clear rules on how to contribute.
>> Community proposals will be asked to be formatted as GitHub repos and be
>> submitted in the form of GitHub issues to the nonprofit's GitHub project,
>> and all discussions are expected to take place on GitHub. Dupes will be
>> closed, related topics can be easily referenced, and past discussions can
>> be easily searched.
>> Everyone can become a member of this nonprofit as long as an image copy
>> of passport is provided (required by my home country's law). Members can
>> rightfully become the nonprofit's representatives to TC39, and present
>> their own proposals (or others' if they would) in official TC39 meetings.
>> No longer do we need to force other member representatives to become
>> "champions" or lobbyists - proposers will be their own best advocates.
>> In order to prevent TC39 from being flooded, some throttle mechanism will
>> also be installed. Only 3 community proposals for one TC39 meeting at most.
>> In case of more than 3 pending community proposals, we'll decide the
>> priority of presentation by their GitHub stars. We'll also have a threshold
>> on minimal star counts to weed out really bad proposals.
>> The nonprofit will delegate anyone who wish to attend a certain TC39
>> meeting as its representative to help make the standardization as open as
>> possible; these representatives can help by participating in the
>> discussions and providing more diverse insights to topics at hand; they
>> will not however bring in additional proposals for that specific meeting.
>> ---
>> This is still a rough plan, and everyone's feedback is welcomed so that
>> the plan can be adjusted if needed to make this thing work as intended.
>> Again, if you're a representative of an Ordinary member organization,
>> your input will be more than valuable.
>> Let's see if we can make things work even better for the community and
>> the language.
>> *G. Kay Lee*
>> github.com/gsklee
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