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Software Microsoft

Format Standards Committee "Grinds To a Halt" 271

Andy Updegrove writes "Microsoft's OOXML did not get enough votes to be approved the first time around in ISO/IEC — notwithstanding the fact that many countries joined the Document Format and Languages committee in the months before voting closed, almost all of them voting to approve OOXML. Unfortunately, many of these countries also traded up to 'P' level membership at the last minute to gain more influence. Now the collateral damage is setting in. At least 50% of P members must vote (up, down, or abstain) on every standard at each ballot — and none of the new members are bothering to vote, despite repeated pleas from the committee chair. Not a single ballot has passed since the OOXML vote closed. In the chairman's words, the committee has 'ground to a halt.' Sad to say, there's no end in sight for this (formerly) very busy and influential standards committee."
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Format Standards Committee "Grinds To a Halt"

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  • In absentia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by homey of my owney (975234) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:44PM (#21001481)
    We declare everyone who doesn't vote, to be here-by removed.
    • Re:In absentia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:46PM (#21001521) Homepage
      Declare everyone that did not vote to be hereby removed AND forbidden from upgrading to P class within a period of 5 years.
      • Re:In absentia (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:08PM (#21001919) Journal
        If your agenda is to make statements as a unified body, you can't do that. It would be like if the US kicked everyone out of the UN except them, then claimed to have unanimous global support for their war of terror. It just doesn't work.

        Someone needs to put a bullet in those people over at Microsoft.
        • Re:In absentia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alLIONum.mit.edu minus cat> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:32PM (#21002251) Homepage

          It is quite common for the boards of non-profit organizations to have a provision in their bylaws that allows the rest of the board to remove any member who doesn't turn up for a certain number of meetings as well as a provision that lets any member force a meeting in which anyone who turns up constitutes a quorum under certain circumstances. That isn't undemocratic - it just prevents a few members from locking up the organization. I've had to use such provisions with an organization I was involved in. After several failed attempts to get a quorum, we forced one more meeting to be called. When it was one short of a quorum, we invoked the provision that let us call another meeting immediately with those present constituting a quorum. We then removed two board members who had failed repeatedly to turn up and passed the by-law change (announced two weeks in advance as required for such changes) that lowered the ridiculously high quorum requirement. This reactivated a frozen organization.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)

        Declare everyone that did not vote to be hereby removed AND forbidden from upgrading to P class within a period of 5 years.
        Catch-22: In order to establish this rule, you'll need a good quorum of members to vote (a majority of them in favour).

        - RG>
    • Buh bye sycophants.
    • Re:In absentia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:48PM (#21001545) Journal
      We declare everyone who doesn't vote, to be here-by removed.

      Failed due to lack of 50% participation of "P" members...

    • Hamstrung (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:50PM (#21001577) Homepage Journal
      Their bylaws probably prevent them from doing this except by a vote of all the P-class members.

      I've seen this sort of thing happen before, to smaller organizations. You get a huge influx of members for some reason, but then they stop participating. If you didn't anticipate this possibility when drafting your constitution or bylaws, and you have some rule in there that says "changes to the bylaws must be ratified by 50% of the membership" or something similar, you're screwed. You can't change the rules, because nobody shows up, and you can't do anything, because nobody shows up.

      Maybe the ISO Standards Committee should dissolve itself and reform under a slightly different name, with a better set of bylaws...
      • by macshit (157376) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `eprohtelggons'> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:03PM (#21001869) Homepage
        Maybe the ISO Standards Committee should dissolve itself and reform under a slightly different name, with a better set of bylaws...

        I propose the "International Microsoft Sucks Standards Organization" (IMSSO).

        Bylaws:

            1. Before any vote, all members must stand and re-affirm their (legally binding) pledge to destroy Microsoft, Windows, and all that is associated with them
            2. This is followed by the singing of the "Microsoft Sucks" song. ...
        • by roystgnr (4015) * <roystgnr AT ticam DOT utexas DOT edu> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @06:05PM (#21002613) Homepage
          2. This is followed by the singing of the "Microsoft Sucks" song.

          You know, I'm all in favor of more organizations for anti-Microsoft geeks, but I've got to warn you that asking us to sing can only end in tragedy. [gnu.org]
        • by kwabbles (259554) on Wednesday October 17, 2007 @12:11AM (#21005967)
          A la Monty Python...

          We're Members of the IMSSO,
          We bash Bill when ere we're able,
          We hate his bloat and legal scenes
          And File Allocation Table.
          We dine well here in Slashdot,
          We eat grits and chips and bawls a lot.
          We're Members of the IMSSO,
          Our Vista hatred is formidable,
          But many times, we're given rhymes
          That are quite unsingable.
          We're burning time in Slashdot,
          We laugh at flying chairs
          a looooooot.
          In flame wars we're tough and able,
          Quite indefatigable,
          Between our WoW raids and tinfoil hats,
          and mockery of what they call "stable".
          Most of us know here at Slashdot,
          Microsoft really sucks a lot!
      • Maybe the ISO Standards Committee should dissolve itself and reform under a slightly different name, with a better set of bylaws...
        You can't disolve something you can't control, you can of course quit from it and reform under a different name but I doubt you could take your ISO approved status with you easilly.

      • by Kjella (173770)
        Sounds to me like something that'd happen enough that all important organizations would have an "escape hatch" clause that would allow them to make an extraordinary session where members have to attend or accept the voting majority's present. Fair enough that it can happen in smaller organizations but don't tell me the ISO standards committee rules was made by amateurs...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HeroreV (869368)

        Maybe the ISO Standards Committee should dissolve itself

        It's not the entire ISO that's suffering from Microsoft here. It's not even the joint committee [wikipedia.org] between ISO and IEC. It's only a subcommittee [wikipedia.org] of the joint committee between ISO and IEC.

        Perhaps the subcommittee should be dissolved, but that doesn't mean all of ISO should be. Don't burn down the house just because the refrigerator stopped working.

    • The vote on OOXML is probably the single most important thing these countries will ever vote on. Everything else is so less important, as to be not even worth opening an email about other things, let alone voting on them. And by most important, I mean, being given the most amount of money by a company to vote a specific way w.r.t. an issue.
    • You could quietly change the enrollment rules and "forget" to mail the rules out to them before the deadline (or post them in a celler) These guys won't remember to re-enroll when their term is up and you can winnow them out then. Just make sure any applications get "lost" if they don't show up to meetings. Then put some procedural rules into effect once the numbers are back down to keep this from happening again.
      • the problem is you probablly need the approval of those who aren't showing up right now to change the rules.

  • Don't worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:44PM (#21001499)
    The Emperor will just dissolve the Senate.
    • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:20PM (#21002089) Homepage Journal
      OpenISO could just invite the members of ISO and effectively render ISO obsolete. They could abstain to vote on all ISO decisions and do everything through OpenISO. It may take a few million dollars to establish, but I say it's worth it.
      • by Sodki (621717) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:59PM (#21002555)
        It's FreeISO, you insensitive clod.
      • sure but it is something that would have to happen at the complete iso level with major publicity, one pissed off commitee isn't going to manage it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HeroreV (869368)
        The article is about Subcommittee 34 (SC 34), which pertains to "Document Description and Processing Languages". It is a part of Joint Technical Committee 1, a joint committee between ISO and IEC.

        ISO is enormously huge and important. It isn't limited to technical specifications. It also define standards for lots of other stuff like food, screws, cars, and timber.

        The people who created OpenISO are clueless. Have you seen their website [openiso.org]? They, like many, don't seem to realize that ISO does more than just appro
    • The Emperor will just dissolve the Senate.

      Emperor or Chair-Man?

      "and none of the new members are bothering to vote, despite repeated pleas from the committee chair. "

      They will not listen to the committee chair. If the Chair-Man shouts "P-members!, P-members!!, P-members!!!" .. .then they will all stand up and listen. They will even ask which way they should vote, and how much money they will get for doing so....
  • Were these counties all named things like Microsoft-land, Microsoft-world, Microsoftia and so on?
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:54PM (#21001661) Homepage Journal

      Were these counties all named things like Microsoft-land, Microsoft-world, Microsoftia and so on?
      No, but some of them were countries that probably had bigger issues than ODF versus OOXML, like say feeding themselves. It was pretty clear that some of them were in it for the cold, hard cash, and couldn't give a crap about what they were voting on.

      Maybe they could make voting membership in a computer-standards committee contingent on having some sort of viable technology industry or something. (Of course, in a few decades that would probably knock out the United States, the way we're going...)
      • by geekoid (135745)
        Don't confuse computers with techology. The US has HUGE technology base, and is innovating other technologies in greater volume then pretty much any other country.

        What technology growth is help desk? hell. most software design isn't new ground or innovative.
        Gee, we're going to use a pointer, look a linked list! whoop-dee-fucking-doo

        • most software design isn't new ground or innovative. Gee, we're going to use a pointer, look a linked list!


          That's what happens when you can effectively stop your competitors with a patent. Without patents, software companies would be forced to produce true innovations in order to survive. With patents, all you need is to have a bureaucrat grant you a monopoly on some small detail.

    • by Karellen (104380)
      No, but they do measure up as being very corrupt [google.co.uk] according to the CPI [wikipedia.org].

      See in particular the previous /. article [slashdot.org].

      Of course, that could just be a complete coincidence. No, really.
  • by syrion (744778) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:45PM (#21001513)

    Allowing mercenary corporate entities to corrupt the standardization process has negative implications? I'm amazed. I never would have guessed that violating the spirit of the rules while abiding by the letter could lead to problems in the future. Nor would I have guessed that punitive/preventative measures would need to be drafted into those rules to prevent abuse.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Volante3192 (953645)
      That's the problem with the tech inclined.

      If we knew back when SMTP was created the trouble it would become, it would have been a much more rigorous protocol. DNS has required lots of security implimentations as well. In fact, pretty much any early net technology wasn't built with any safeguards in mind. Everyone was pretty much trustworthy.

      Then the general public and businesses started using it and suddenly stupid things and evil things started happening. (Broad brush stroke, yea, but I'm summarizing.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) *

        At one level, there's still a lot of naivety.

        This is true. Naivete is surprisingly hard to kill; call them fools or optimists, but a lot of people seem to love to hold onto unrealistic expectations of others far beyond what is rational or predictable.

        I think this is one of the main reasons why so much security policy is reactive rather than proactive. Nobody wants to be the person to call out everyone else for being potential criminals, even though everyone rationally knows that it's true.

        • by jandrese (485)
          On the other hand, innocent people also don't like being punished just because everybody "knows" they're bad.
  • when they bought a lot of the votes. Either OOXML will be approved and the standards organization will continue its work or else no other standard will get processed.
    • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:51PM (#21001603)
      Wrong. Even if OOXML was approved the standards committee would have ground to a halt anyway.
      • by jejones (115979)
        True... but that doesn't mean MS didn't want that outcome. Get your bogus "standard" approved, then have your lapdogs prevent anything else from progressing.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:46PM (#21001527)
    ...of the MS efforts. Discrediting the standards process (and, by implication, the standards produced through it) is just as good, or better, for them then getting a spot as a second standard alongside ODF. If the standards bodies aren't credible, than the only "standard" that matters is "what's dominant in the marketplace today", and Microsoft has that locked up right now.
    • by juuri (7678)
      I doubt they have thought that far ahead. Given Microsoft's practices in things like this, they saw an easy, "legal", way to push forward a vote to benefit themselves. Whoever was tasked at Microsoft on making this vote worked exerted much effort to make sure these new members voted on this one issue. The paper stuffers probably were completely ignorant of what they were signing up for other than towing a line maybe with the promise of deep discounts or a "great licensing" deal waiting the in the wings.

      Micr
    • Yes, this was my thinking as well upon seeing the article. Discrediting the standard bodies is in Microsoft's favor. If collaboration, cooperation and democracy (essentially that is what international standards bodies implement) are shown to fail in IT, then a single entity to lead the market may seem more appealing.

      But hopefully this will come back to bite them. Discrediting standard bodies may irritate some people in high places - although, presumably not in the US.
    • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:16PM (#21002033) Homepage Journal

      If the standards bodies aren't credible, than the only "standard" that matters is "what's dominant in the marketplace today", and Microsoft has that locked up right now.

      This tactic has been used in international negotiations in the past. A certain Last Remaining Superpower (who shall remain nameless) has done this with numerous international committees since about 2000. Even when they have no interest in the outcome of a given bit of work, they insist on joining the group and actively sabotaging it unless it meets their strategic priorities. It's not enough that it has nothing to do with them; unless these groups are actively supporting the Superpower's agenda, they are blocked and frustrated at the procedural level.

      It's not inconceivable that MS would use such tactics. But given the circumstances, I'm inclined to say that if that's what they intended, they could have done it much better. Ultimately, though, even I have trouble believing they could have planned such an outcome.

    • by giminy (94188)
      ...of the MS efforts. Discrediting the standards process (and, by implication, the standards produced through it) is just as good, or better, for them then getting a spot as a second standard alongside ODF. If the standards bodies aren't credible, than the only "standard" that matters is "what's dominant in the marketplace today", and Microsoft has that locked up right now.

      Interesting theory.

      I worked in .GOV research labs for a few years, my primary responsibility being evaluating computer security products
  • gridlock (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:46PM (#21001533) Homepage
    In the chairman's words, the committee has 'ground to a halt.'

    See that? American style democracy is popular overseas.
  • tough shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snotman (767894) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:46PM (#21001537)
    I guess if they allow for members to join spontaneously and upgrade their memnbership without showing any commitment to the standards body, then they get to sit in their own shit and do nothing now. Thank you MS for doing your part in exposing the ridiculousness of this standards body's regulations and processes.
    • Re:tough shit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by m50d (797211) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:07PM (#21001907) Homepage Journal
      A standards committee is not designed as a battlezone; it's run under the assumption that its members, while they may disagree on the technical details, all want to agree a standard - otherwise, why would they be there? Saying not being able to deal with this sort of thing is a problem with ISO is like saying not being able to deal with a passerby kicking the board over and running off with the pieces is a problem with chess.
      • by redJag (662818)
        Make a chess board with pieces that can only be moved by players that have been attending and contributing to chess club meetings for X months. Otherwise the pieces remain stuck in place so when that jerk kicks over the board you can just put it back on the table :)
        It's not a nice place out there. At least that's what my parents keep telling me.../returns to basement.
      • by rhizome (115711)
        A standards committee is not designed as a battlezone; it's run under the assumption that its members, while they may disagree on the technical details, all want to agree a standard - otherwise, why would they be there?

        This assumes that Microsoft and their ilk are using the same definition of "standards."
      • A standards committee is not designed as a battlezone; it's run under the assumption that its members, while they may disagree on the technical details, all want to agree a standard

        And standards are designed to create a monopoly situation for a particular technology or technical area. Monopolies are fabulous revenue generation mechanisms if you can get your personal technology ratified as a standard.

        I don't believe for a second that MS is the first to attempt this. Not recognising this possibility in the rules is particularly naive.

        • by Karellen (104380) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @07:35PM (#21003627) Homepage
          That's utter crap! The point of de jure standards - the kind produced by ISO, where "a standard" is "a specification" - is to *prevent* monopolies, by providing a common specification that *anyone*, as opposed to a single company, can implement. This allows purchasers to pick from multiple interoperable suppliers of goods, providing competition, and reducing the chances that monopolies will form.

          (Note, this is different from de facto standards, which use the word "standard" in the context of "it is standard" simply means "common" or "widespread". The .doc file format is an example. It is standard. It is not a standard. Also, de jure standards may well become de facto standards, but the reverse does not hold.)

          NTSC/PAL being TV standards that mean that Disney, ABC, HBO, etc... all transmit TV in the same way, and that Sony, Phillips, Samsung, etc... can all receive it from any of these. If Disney transmitted in a secret, non-standardised format and required you to purchase a Disney TV to view Disney channels, they'd have a monopoly on TV sales from anyone who wanted to watch Disney on TV.

          You could use almost any standard in any field of engineering for the same argument. I'd be hard pressed to find any that support yours. Name 5 ... no, 3 - name 3 de jure standards that have enabled or supported monopolies. Go on.
      • Re:tough shit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CaptKilljoy (687808) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @06:18PM (#21002797)
        >A standards committee is not designed as a battlezone.

        Can you really be that naive? Standards bodies have been corporate battlegrounds ever since they came into being.
      • A standards committee is not designed as a battlezone; it's run under the assumption that its members, while they may disagree on the technical details, all want to agree a standard - otherwise, why would they be there?


        I'd say we just had an excellent example of why they'd be there, wouldn't you?

        Chris Mattern
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by griffjon (14945)
        Every day, I miss the concept of "rough consensus and running code [ietf.org]" a bit more.
  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @04:48PM (#21001555) Homepage Journal
    Up to now it was pulling a quick one, but with this it has turned into a full-scale abuse.

    It will be interesting to see if the ISO fixes this problem (e.g. by withdrawing P status from all the abusers) or not. If ISO decides to do nothing, the only rational reason is to not have to admit that the vote was almost fixed - and that means there is corruption at the highest levels of the organisation.
  • If you can't be bothered to vote, you are out. Paid or not.
  • but also in world process !

    Now, that a big bad corporation, that have enought power to stop the ISO process.
     
    Ok, Bill what the next move, are you resposible for the Sun to shutoff [slashdot.org], just because you don't know the difference between Sun [sun.com] and the SUN [wikipedia.org] ?

    What about your Social responsibility [wikipedia.org].
      In a normal country, this kind of organisation would have been shutoff for long.
  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zsouthboy (1136757)
    The thing is - why was OOXML tried as a "fast track" item anyway? You know what I mean?

    How freaking important could a document standard (hard to type without a straight face) be, that it needed to be fast-tracked?

    (Yes, I know that's not why they attempted to fast-track it.)
  • by gambolt (1146363) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:10PM (#21001951)
    It looks like a vote is only required when a P member objects. The net result of this is that there must be full agreement on all
    motions for them to pass since an objection automatically triggers a vote for which quorum will be unobtainable.

    According to Directives 9.1.6 "If any P-member objects to the question during this period, the question will be decided by a vote, either at a meeting or by letter ballot", this single negative response triggers the requirement now for a formal letter ballot from all SC34 P-members soliciting an explicit approve/disapprove response.


    In the case of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34, something to do with establishing a liaison with the XML guild, The Netherlands filed an objection triggering a full vote to which the following countries did not respond:

    Bulgaria
    Brazil
    Switzerland
    Côte-d'Ivoire (wtf?)
    China
    Colombia
    Czech Republic
    France
    India
    Japan
    Kenya
    Korea, Republic of
    Kazakhstan (insert Borat reference here)
    Lebanon
    Malta
    Norway
    Pakistan
    Poland
    Romania
    Sweden
    Thailand
    Trinidad and Tobago
    • by shawnmchorse (442605) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:21PM (#21002099) Homepage

      Côte-d'Ivoire (wtf?)


      The official name for the Ivory Coast, in Africa.
      • The official name for the Ivory Coast, in Africa.

        I think the WTF is that the Ivory Coast, in Africa, is involved in this at all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          I think the WTF is that the Ivory Coast, in Africa, is involved in this at all.

          Uh, why? On the one hand, poor countries with relatively little current computer/internet penetration have a substantial interest in how these decisions go, since it plays a big role in determine how expensive it will be for them to improve their condition.

          And, on the other hand, poor countries are cheaper for interested first-world corporations to bribe.

          So, on either side, it shouldn't be all that surprising.
          E

    • by belmolis (702863)

      Côte-d'Ivoire (wtf?)

      That's French for Ivory Coast [wikipedia.org], whic is probably how you know the country. They switched to using the French version as the official name even in English a while back.

  • OK, so at what point do these new memberships expire? Or do you get to keep your upgraded "P" membership forever?
  • This is why.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:22PM (#21002105)
    TCP/IP overtook OSI as a network model. While OSI is relatively simpler and more clear cut, it took ISO so long to get it off the ground that by the time it actually solidified TCP/IP had left it in the dust. So far as I know, to this day TCP/IP isn't a true standard as much as it is a de facto standard. I say, let the beurocracies procrasterbate, and the people who actually write software will decide which standard they want. Ultimately a voted-on standard isn't that important if no one uses it.
    • by eklitzke (873155)
      TCP and IP are standards in the sense that they are both documented by RFCs, which are considered to be standards by pretty much everyone who matters (i.e. the people implementing the protocols).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by asuffield (111848)
        It is well known among the people who implement the protocols that if you implement TCP according to the standards, you get something that doesn't work on the internet. The RFCs are imperfect documentation of how things actually work - the details are more subtle.
  • Microsoft is a marvelous competitor; they are focused and have a great business. It's actually kind of nice to see a United States company actually winning in these days of a declining neoAmerica. However, why do they have to pollute everything that they touch that is outside of their company? Their "embrace, extend, and extinguish" policies are so destructive. It would be nice if they would just stick to business and try to win on the quality of their products. Like Vista...Oh, never mind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DM9290 (797337)
      "a United States company"

      can you define that? there is no rule forcing Microsoft to spend its profits inside America.. to hire Americans... to help the people of America, or to give a rats ass about America. Microsoft is a transnational corporation. don't pretend companies are citizens of states. as a living human being citizen you are basically stuck here.. this is your home, your culture, your roots, your identity, (and likely the only place on earth you can't be deported FROM.. well.. until the Bush ad
  • Do members have to contribute financially to ISO in order to sit on these committees, or is it free as long as you are a duly appointed representative of a body recognized by ISO? If it's chargeable, which I suspect that it is, then the worst case scenario would probably be that nothing gets done until the next renewal fee. In all likelihood it will be even quicker than that once the "name and shame" game inevitably starts if a couple more rounds of attempting to convince the non-voting P-members to downg
  • Test the waters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eponymous Bastard (1143615) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:35PM (#21002283)
    I wonder if they can issue a ballot to drop OOXML altogether, or delay its consideration until all outstanding ballots are resolved.

    If that turns out to be the only ballot responded they would have a much better case.
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @05:55PM (#21002525) Homepage

    The "article" is just some blogger blithering. If you read the actual ISO rules [iso.org], it's clear they can deal with this easily enough.

    • 1.7.4 A technical committee or subcommittee secretariat shall notify the Chief Executive Officer if a P-member of that technical committee or subcommittee has been persistently inactive and has failed to make a contribution to 2 consecutive meetings, either by direct participation or by correspondence, or has failed to vote on questions submitted for voting within the technical committee or subcommittee (such as new work item proposals).

      Upon receipt of such a notification, the Chief Executive Officer shall remind the national body of its obligation to take an active part in the work of the technical committee or subcommittee. In the absence of a satisfactory response to this reminder, the national body shall automatically have its status changed to that of O-member. A national body having its status so changed may, after a period of 12 months, indicate to the Chief Executive Officer that it wishes to regain P-membership of the committee, in which case this shall be granted.

    • 1.7.5 If a P-member of a technical committee or subcommittee fails to vote on an enquiry draft or final draft International Standard prepared by the respective committee, the Chief Executive Officer shall remind the national body of its obligation to vote. In the absence of a satisfactory response to this reminder, the national body shall automatically have its status changed to that of O-member. A national body having its status so changed may, after a period of twelve months, indicate to the Chief Executive Officer that it wishes to regain P membership of the committee, in which case this shall be granted.

    The "plaintive notes" the blogger writes about are the "reminder" mentioned above. This is just the step before the automatic status change to O (observer) member. Notice that once reduced to observer status, there's a delay of 12 months before a national standards body can reapply for P (principal) status.

    So there's no problem.

    • by Dracos (107777)

      If I had mod points, this would get +1 informative.

      Does the ISO also have rules to place formerly P-level countries (and/or companies) on some type of probation?

      Obviously ISO needs to revise their rules to prevent vote tampering, as obviously happened with the OOXML vote.

    • So basically it is very likely that non of these members will be allowed to vote on the final say on OOXML? Nice.
  • by constantnormal (512494) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @06:18PM (#21002787)
    A variation of this same phenomenon has held US elections in its grip for many decades, witness the continuous decline in the fraction of potentially eligible voters who actually vote.

    If you limit that again by the fraction of those who go to the polls and have a clue about who the people are they're voting for (usually, they're voting against someone, and don't much care who gets in, so long as it's not candidate X), and are not merely blindly pulling the party lever, then the fraction of intelligent voters in our own system is effectively zero.

    It's the death of democracy. As noted by others, if there is no provision to deny eligibility to vote for non-performance on the part of the voters, the system will die. And even if voters do go to the polls but are disgusted by the lack of choice, due to the major parties exercising duopoly control over every aspect of the process, the system dies then too.

    It's just a matter of time before some lunatic figures out a way to game the system, either by destroying their opponents (physically, as Hitler and the Brown Shirts did in pre-WWII Germany, or via character smears and lies, as is the tradition in our nation (and several other "democratic" nations)) or wrapping themselves in some demagogic issue and making the election revolve about a single issue. In such circumstances, the aggregate "wisdom of the crowd" is transformed into the lunacy of the mob -- think the French Revolution and Robespierre's Reign of Terror (or our own War on Terror, for that matter).

    Once you manage to turn away thoughtful discussion/argument/debate, and limit the process to a small number of controllable groups, democracy dies.

    This is the cancer of democratic systems, and the reason why there are no long-running democracies.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @09:19PM (#21004567)
    Don't worry ISO, Microsoft will release a patch for your process next Tuesday.

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