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   Re: Fixing the OASIS mail lists

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: Bill Smith <bill.smith@sun.com>, xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 10:28:53 +0100

Dear Bill,

 Thanks you for your reply - I am replying publicly to the XML-DEV list.  I do
not know how many of your colleagues read XML-DEV but please circulate this to
them. I raise a number of points and would be grateful for responses - which
may be iterative.

Over the last few days I have tried to clarify the position openly on the list
and I shall go over some of the issues in this reply. I hope they will be seen
as constructive. You should realise that the role, competence and attitude of
OASIS has been a central theme for many days. They are exemplified by one of
the "lets' dump OASIS" theme today [note 1]. There has been very little public
support for OASIS and I have done my best to highlight the role that OASIS
could (and should) play in the XML community.

At 01:59 PM 4/20/00 -0700, Bill Smith wrote:
>As President of OASIS, I would like to acknowledge the significant
>problems that this and other OASIS lists have been experiencing.
>I would also like to apologize for the time it has taken to resolve 
>these problems. I can understand the very real frustration of list
>participants and would like to explain the steps that OASIS is now

 Independently of the technical problems, there have been the following
some of which coincide with my own interactions:

 OASIS only cares about large vendors and not individuals or volunteers (it is
too expensive for me to be a member)
 OASIS is primarily an executive and not a technical organisation
 OASIS has a very slow response (you will recall that the list transfer was
mooted 10 months ago - many members think of action in hours and days rather
than months)
>Our first priority is to ensure that the lists function correctly
>in transporting messages. 

 This is absolutely essential. It has been made clear by many competent list
members that this is not a technically difficult problem, but it needs

***It is also essential that the historical archive - as primary mailbox - is
preserved for present and posterity. I believe that it should be preserved
under a GPL so that it is accessible to developers, researchers, educators and
historians. Please can you assure us that you have a complete primary
record of
all list traffic since Henry Rzepa handed over. ***

 I have outlined in great detail the component functions of an "XML-DEV"
and I believe some of them to be separable. [The running of a list may be
separate from the hypermail, for example. The list and the primary archive are
the two essential components that must not be compromised.

>1. Karl Best has been appointed Director of Technical Operations
>   for OASIS. OASIS will for the first time have a paid employee
>   in a position that until now has relied on volunteer labor.  
>   Karl begins work on 21 April, and his responsibilities include
>   ensuring that our mail lists function properly.

Thank you. One of the problems over the last 4 months has been the lack of an
identifiable individual. You do not give a mail address so we greet Karl
publicly, and assure him that he will be welcome and have many courteous
of advice and help where appropriate. We also hope that the "paid employee" is
seen as a real person on this list.

>2. Norm Walsh has agreed to assist in configuring and maintaining
>   the mail lists. He will join Karl in this effort beginning Monday 
>   24 April.

Welcome Norm, who is well known to us. 

I hope very much that Karl and Norm will become active contributors to the
list. In this way many of the tensions need never develop. The lack of any
apparent involvement or interest in XML-DEV by OASIS has been part of the
reason for the very public criticism.

>3. Other resources will be applied where appropriate.
>Once the lists are operating correctly, Karl and Norm will
>investigate arrangements with our ISP and recommend measures to
>improve response time. If necessary, the lists will be moved to a
>different provider, or other steps will be taken to ensure that our 
>lists are operated in a professional manner.

Understood. I have also had two very credible offers of organisations to
host/outsource the facility, in conjunction with OASIS (and I expect there may
be more). If you wish to follow them up I will post details in private. 

[On behalf of the list I thank those who have offered, and we should not stop
thinking about this.]

>Given the nature of the problems reported to me, I doubt that it
>will be possible to correct all of them by 23 April. It is my
>intention to resolve them as quickly as possible, but proper
>resolution will require investigation, analysis of options, and
>execution of a plan of action. 
>You have my assurance that this is a priority with OASIS and will 
>be done with all due haste. I ask that you give Karl and Norm your 
>support and allow them the time to analyze and correct these problems 
>in a professional manner.

I am, of course, only the unofficial "moderator" of ca 2000 professional
who have their own views, motivations, history and expertise. I see my role as
to facilitate discourse, not to determine outcome [except in the specific area
that I believe the list community must be preserved and continue to flourish].
I urge courtesy, cooperation and constructive attitudes, not uniformity or
acquiescence. I shall continue to urge.

OASIS's role in the list and perception by it depends on OASIS! If it is seen
as constructive, responsive, innovative, reliable, responsible, trustworthy,
valuable, then XML-DEV will be an important asset for OASIS in its role in the
community. If it is seen otherwise then no-one - certainly not me - can change
the reality of those views.

There is a very strong feeling that the ball is in your court. I highlighted
the deadline of 2000-04-23 that Laura Walker gave us. You have outlined the
steps you intend to take and the timescale. You and your colleagues should use
the medium of the list to make it clear that your strategy will work - I can't
do that. It is clear from the postings that there are other technical

Finally to point out that a number of exciting ideas for the operation of the
XML-DEV community have arisen over the last 2 weeks. It is clear that XML-DEV
can and probably will become more distributed. OASIS should not feel that it
has to address all of the activities discussed - indeed my personal
recommendation would be to concentrate on the maillist service and the
preservation of a primary GPL archive of postings. 

Again I thank OASIS for the commitment of resources, and hope to see rapid and
sizeable improvement.


>Bill Smith
>President, OASIS

> P.

[Note 1]

> -
> From: Tom Ritchford <tom@swirly.com> 
> Subject: Re: OASIS and XML-DEV 

> this [the work of the list admin] baffles me. I run almost a dozen lists of
> various sizes and types (using 
> the http://www.topica.com service, but egroups is fine too) and it handles 
> all the work of bounce handling and the like behind my back.


> I doubt I spend 5 hours a month on purely maintenance issues on all the
> put together. 


> my 'vote' is now to dump OASIS and go with one of the free internet
> like egroups or topica. 


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