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[ddlm-group] Vote on moving elide discussion to COMCIFS

  • To: Group finalising DDLm and associated dictionaries <ddlm-group@iucr.org>
  • Subject: [ddlm-group] Vote on moving elide discussion to COMCIFS
  • From: James Hester <jamesrhester@gmail.com>
  • Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:17:12 +1100
Dear Herbert and others,

Would those COMCIFS voting members who agree with Herbert that we
should discuss the elide proposals at COMCIFS level please indicate
their agreement or otherwise.  I obviously disagree with Herbert, and
you can read my comments as to why below.  However, if the other
voting members think it appropriate to reopen discussion at COMCIFS
level, then that is what we should do.

Please understand that I am not in any way wishing to restrict
discussion.  The appropriate forum for discussions related to DDLm is
this group, and anybody with an interest from within and without
COMCIFS is welcome to participate.  This group is not an "informal
discussion group" but a group tasked by COMCIFS to finalise the DDLm
standards, and our discussions are a matter of record.

Herbert makes a number of contentious and inflammatory comments below
which I address inline.

On Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM, Herbert J. Bernstein
<yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:
> Dear James,
>   I believe you have correctly summarized the situation with respect
> to this informal discussion group, but with due respect, I am
> very uncomfortable with that view with respect to COMCIFS itself,
> which is a formal IUCr body with a specific charge with respect to
> the maintenance of the CIF standard.

And COMCIFS has delegated this group to deal with DDLm, and report
back.  We are a subcommittee of COMCIFS, not some vague "informal

> I believed and still believe
> that Ralf's original proposal better serves the long term purpose
> of development of the CIF standard than does proposal F.

And I believe that Proposal F', not F, is the better proposal.  Why
are our personal preferences relevant to the appropriate place for

>   Certainly, it would be desirable to find a consensus position within

If this is desirable, then that position is clearly proposal F.  I and
others have discussed and worked in good faith to develop a consensus
position, by consulting the four voting members in this group, taking
the advice of the non-voting but interested members, and contacting
the remaining voting member (Ralf) from time to time to make sure that
he is aware of our discussions.  You do not explain why those same
voting members should suddenly change their positions because they are
posting to a different forum.

> Perhaps some version of SIMON's proposal will end up
> being that consensus, but it does not seem appropriate to limit the
> discussion within COMCIFS to just a yea-or-nay on what this very
> different, informal body has decided.

This body is not "very different" but rather "almost identical" as, of
the voting membership, only Ralf is absent, and any non-voting members
who want to participate are participating.  It is not an "informal"
body but a subcomittee of COMCIFS with discussions on the record.  It
is usually quite appropriate to leave the in-detail work to a
subcommittee and ask the main body to approve work at the end, that
would appear to be how most parliamentary bodies operate.

> In the past, even with
> formally established DWG and DMG discussions, we have allowed
> full and open discussion at the COMCIFS level.

Yes, and the result of those discussions is usually to send something
back to the DWG for further work.  This has already happened with
Ralf's proposal, which you will recall arose as a result of presenting
the draft syntax to COMCIFS.  This is an efficient way to work.

> Why can Ralf's
> proposal not be discussed in COMCIFS?
>   With all due respect to the time and effort that this group has
> given to this discussion, Ralf's proposal was raised in COMCIFS,
> has my support, and has _not_ been properly discussed within

I do not detect any respect from you for the time spent by this group
or for the opinions that have been expressed. If you thought that
discussion at COMCIFS level was the appropriate way to deal with
things, why did you not raise it at the time we started discussion of
Ralf's proposal, instead of now when we were ready to finalise
everything after having spent so much time writing emails?  Do you now
also consider that the entire syntax document should have been
discussed from the beginning on COMCIFS, not DDLm-group?

> In terms of proprieties, it seems strange
> having this body block discussion within COMCIFS and to
> somehow insist on the substitution of proposal F for Ralf's
> proposal.  Perhaps it will turn out in the end that COMCIFS
> will prefer proposal F to Ralf's proposal.  Perhaps it will
> turn out in the end that COMCIFS will prefer Ralf's proposal
> to proposal F.  Perhaps something different will happen.  We
> won't know until and unless the matter is brought back to
> COMCIFS and discussed there, especially because, earlier in this
> discussion, a majority of COMCIFS voting members expressed support
> for Ralf's proposal.

This body is not "blocking" discussion - it is facilitating discussion
by including only those members of COMCIFS with an interest in the
topic under discussion.  The majority you refer to would be John W,
you and Ralf, however John W's position is "minimal change to the
current syntax".  In any case, I thought you preferred consensus to
majority voting.

We "substituted" Proposal F for Ralf's proposal because it had broader
support among *COMCIFS voting members* than Ralf's proposal.  Note
that I am talking about *COMCIFS* voting members, ie those very same
people that Herbert would ask to once again discuss the same things
all over again, but posting to a different email address.

>   The sooner we start, the sooner we will be done.

We started over a month ago, and we *were* almost done before you
suddenly announced that we needed to start again in a different forum.

> At 11:30 AM +1100 2/21/11, James Hester wrote:
>>Hi Herbert,
>>The point of the process I have been pursuing here is to find an elide
>>proposal that has the support of everybody.  As part of that process
>>we indicated our preferences among all the proposals on the table,
>>including the Python proposal.  As a result, proposal F was found to
>>be acceptable to all members.  Proposal F is therefore being put
>>forward for a formal vote on the basis that it will have unanimous
>>support at COMCIFS.
>>It therefore is *not* appropriate to give special status to the Python
>>proposal by requesting an additional formal COMCIFS vote on it, unless
>>we are also going to reintroduce the other 6 or 7 proposals for a
>>formal vote.  That would then duplicate the process we've just been
>>through, which would be pointless.
>>I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.
>>On Wed, Feb 16, 2011 at 9:39 AM, Herbert J. Bernstein
>><yaya@bernstein-plus-sons.com> wrote:
>>>  Dear James,
>>>   I think it would be more appropriate to put Ralf's original
>>>  proposal as well as F  before COMCIFS.  As I have stated
>>>  several times, I prefer Ralf's original proposal to F.
>>>  While either is sufficient to the limited purpose, I think
>>>  full Python compatability for the treble quote construct
>>>  makes the most sense long term.
>>>   Regards,
>>>     Herbert
>>>  =====================================================
>>>   Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
>>>    Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
>>>         Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769
>>>                  +1-631-244-3035
>>>                  yaya@dowling.edu


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