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

Dear James and others,

   I am sorry if James feels my remarks to be "contentious" or
"inflamatory".  Ralf made what I believe to be a sound proposal
in COMCIFS.  I believe that his proposal needs to be discussed
in some forum in which he participates fully.  This does not
seem to be such a forum.   Therefore, I would appreciate having
the matter discussed in the forum in which he raised it.

   Now to the contentious issues.  With my apologies to everybody
else, allow me to deal with the core of James's procedural

>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,

I have tried to show respect for all concerned and I did indeed repeatly
object to the process being followed, especially the failure to
consider and discuss Ralf's original proposal, and have repeatedly
asked for COMCIFS votes on many issues, including this one.  I am
sorry if my requests have not be expressed with sufficient clarity to 
be understood, but I was trying to be respectful.  Please allow me to 
be clear:

   I cannot seem to find any vote by COMCIFS delegating its
responsibility for making the _final_ decision in the matter of
DDLm to any other body.  All I can find is a message from
James in 8 September 2009 announcing the creation of the group
and explicitly stating "The standards developed by the working
group will require COMCIFS approval before being accepted."  I
believe it is best for COMCIFS "approval" to include discussions,
as it has in the past, and not a simple up-or-down vote.

Now on the subject of consensus.  Yes, I do believe in consensus.
That does not mean I don't believe in voting.  That is how you
find out how far you are from a consensus.  The only reason
I raised the question of a COMCIFS majority was because claims
were made earlier about a COMCIFS majority which seemed to have
been in error.  The way in which I would suggest COMCIFS deal
with any of these contentious issues is to discuss them fully
until, in test votes, nobody has strong objections to what is
being proposed, and that, until such a consensus position is
achieved, the formal approval of whatever is being proposed
be deferred for further work and/or discussion.

All of which brings us to the current issue:  James has expressed
his views very clearly.  I, perhaps, have not expressed mine as
clearly as I could, but I have tried.  I really would like to
know Ralf's current views, if he is willing to express them.

Right now, it is not clear to me that we have either a consensus or
at least a majority of COMCIFS in favor of anything on the
triple-quoted string issue.

Again, my apologies for any offense I have caused by my inartful
way of expressing myself.  I think it important that we get this


At 4:17 PM +1100 2/21/11, James Hester wrote:
>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
>T +61 (02) 9717 9907
>F +61 (02) 9717 3145
>M +61 (04) 0249 4148
>ddlm-group mailing list

  Herbert J. Bernstein, Professor of Computer Science
    Dowling College, Kramer Science Center, KSC 121
         Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY, 11769

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