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France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:12 PM EDT

Here's the story from France so far. Apparently, the majority voted No with Comments in a pre-vote, but I understand France is a country that must reach consensus. You can see the results of the "pre-vote" (not sure if that's the best translation for "enquête probatoire nationale") on PC INpact, and you'll see that it does appear that a majority felt that AFNOR's choice should be No with Comments:
* Approbation au projet de normalisation : 20
* Approbation au projet de normalisation avec commentaires : 12
* Désapprobation avec commentaires : 81
* Abstention : 14

81 pre-votes indicating the choice of No with Comments, 14 abstentions, 12 Yes with Comments, and 20 Yes. That's overwhelmingly no. I think you can probably fill in the blanks at what happened at the meeting on that news, however. I hear Microsoft didn't like the vote results, and from reports coming in, the meeting became quite heated. The question now is, can one powerful proponent of a standard negate the wishes of the majority?

Some links in French:

AFNOR is quiet as a churchyard, saying it will release its decision on September 2. The thing about a consensus process is that normally, there's no vote. Everyone talks it out and finally they all agree. That's the idea of it, anyway. But if the vendor behind a proposed standard can kill any consensus that isn't a Yes by objecting to a majority vote that is against it, then what happens? It seems a demonstration that the consensus process is flawed, if a proponent of a standard has total veto power over a majority that doesn't wish to accept the proposed format as is. Perhaps the process needs to address such questions as we all go forward.

And as we wait to find out what France's AFNOR will do, who knows what is happening behind closed doors. And really, who knew standards setting could be so appallingly thrilling? It's like watching a train wreck. I can't bear to watch, and I can't look away.


  


France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown | 140 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
The corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:16 PM EDT
Place corrections to the Groklaw article under this one.

A summary in the title to your correction is most helpful.

Thank you.

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic discussion thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:19 PM EDT
Posts off the topic of the main story can be placed here.

Limited HTML is available for those who follow the instructions in red on the "Post a Comment" page.

This thread is meant to help keep Groklaw tidy.

Thank you.

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] News Picks discussion thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:21 PM EDT
Comments on Groklaw's News Picks stories can be put here.

"Have a lot of fun."

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS forgets the internet
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:28 PM EDT
I think ms has forgotten the power the internet has over the fast and free flow
of information these days.
Not so long back this kind of vote rigging wouldn't have been generally known
until way to late after the event, now we get the information as it happens.
SCO learned the same, the harder way.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Desperation
Authored by: Simon G Best on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:30 PM EDT

The more I read this stuff about Microsoft's efforts to get OOXML approved as a standard, the more I get the impression that Microsoft's desperate. It just comes across that way. It just keeps coming across as desperation, as if Microsoft's fighting to survive or something.

It also gives the impression, as Microsoft's apparently having to put so much effort into this, that OOXML isn't really, generally wanted as a standard. If Microsoft does manage to scrape it through, it'll come across as emphasising just how unwanted OOXML actually is. After all, if they can only just manage to squeeze it through after all the effort they're putting into it...

---
"Public relations" is a public relations term for propaganda.

[ Reply to This | # ]

There's precedent here
Authored by: overshoot on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:32 PM EDT
Some of the other countries that require consensus have already set precedent
for this situation. In the absence of unanimous support for "no, with
comments" the Chair or Executive Board voted "yes."

[ Reply to This | # ]

France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Authored by: Carlo Graziani on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:43 PM EDT
Here's a bit of payload from the 01net article:
L'organisme français, qui doit transmettre son avis au plus tard ce week-end à l'Iso, devrait organiser une conférence de presse lundi prochain où il présentera et défendra sa position. Selon nos sources, il devrait logiquement se prononcer en défaveur de la normalisation mais une forme d'abstention n'est pas à écarter.

My translation:

The French organization [AFNOR, their standards organization], which must transmit its decision to ISO no later than this week-end, is supposedly planning to hold a press conference next Monday, to present and defend its position. According to our sources, while the decision should logically be against the standard, some form of abstention is not to be excluded. [My italics]

[ Reply to This | # ]

France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Authored by: lukep on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:45 PM EDT
IANAL, but some points :

- a "enquête probatoire nationale" is not a pre-vote. It is a request
for
comments/opposition, which ask for a conclusion yes/no, but the main point
is to get the comments. Everybody can participate, but the commitee is not
bound by the result. It must discuss and adress the comments though.

This is a standard technic here for any public interest project which is
mandated by law in many sectors (dont know but dont think it is so for
standards).

- Afnor use consensus only, and no vote is ever planned, so i fear the likely
outcome is abstain.

- To add to the unpleasantness, the chair of the meeting is the CEO of a
company developping an OOXML converter for M$. AFNOR status clearly
mandate a neutral party as chair.

- AFNOR received 93 letters from big companies supporting OOXML. No
content leaked, but the sweden example should give us an idea

- I have no source to show, but i have echoes that the secretary of AFNOR
was **very** strongly against OOXML and sternly warned the chair about due
process, so there is some hope.

- AFNOR is a non-profit org (with a consulting for profit sibling), but
"reconnue d'utilité publique" (of public interest). As such, it has
extra duties,
so if any misconduct happens, penalties are bigger.

- Law in France expressly favor open-source solutions against proprietary
formats lock-in for all public or semi-public bodies. Even the Assemblée (our
congress) and senate use linux now.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A suggestion to keep the vote that way: appeal to nationalism
Authored by: ftcsm on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:46 PM EDT
If there is one thing French people will get very upset is to try to impose
something to them if it appears to be some other nation's will power over
theirs. They really value their nationalism a lot.

So the answer is to attend to one of those meetings or say to the press that
France will be on it's knees passively approving whatever USA wants like the
English people is doing to whatever USA says. I expect there will be a VERY
heated response, probably enough to make very bad image of someone that votes
Yes or at least show that MS is buying their way over what France wants (more
than 80 votes NO does show their intent). I know that using the very old
argument of comparing them to the English will really upset them.

I would really like to be at one of those meetings there, seeing the expression
of MS puppies when someone says something like this.

---

------
Faith moves mountains but I still prefer dynamite

[ Reply to This | # ]

Consensus
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:51 PM EDT
Clearly what is missing in this consensus system is recognition of conflict of
interest. In any well-designed deliberative body, members do not vote on issues
in which they have a conflict of interest. As we see, this is crucial in a
consensus-based body.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They received letters asking to forego technical analysis
Authored by: MORB on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:57 PM EDT
This paragraph from the PC impact article is interesting:

"En parallèle à cette initiative, l'AFNOR a créé la
surprise en indiquant avoir reçu directement 93 courriers
soutenant le principe de la normalisation d'OOXML sans
analyse technique. Elle a donné lors des entretiens en
cours de grands noms (Essilor, Caisse d'Épargne, Danone,
CIGREF, et d'autres). Autre surprise, si la liste
complète des noms est à disposition des membres, le
contenu précis des courriers reste lui secret."

Translation:
"Besides this initiative, AFNOR surprised by announcing
having received directly 93 letters arguing for the
principle of standardizing OOXML without technical
analysis. AFNOR gave big names during interviews (Essilor,
Caisse d'Épargne, Danone, CIGREF, and others)
(translator's note: those are big French companies and
financial institutions)
Other surprise, while the complete list of names is
available to members, the exact content of the letters
remains secret."

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Yes with comments" == "Yes"
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 06:02 PM EDT
Bear in mind that there is zero obligation to even look at the comments
accompanying a "yes with comments" vote.

If those who voted so really want their comments addressed, they should vote
"no with comments".

No matter how much Microsoft tries to tell otherwise.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oooh, this one is TOUGH to call
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 06:02 PM EDT
Which will win out? The quiet back-room payoffs? Or the stubborn French
insistence on Freedom and wide distrust of Microsoft and things from the USA?

Maybe if Microsoft had called it "Freedom XML format" this would be
easier to call ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

SNZ Approach
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 06:27 PM EDT
Standards NZ (who voted no) have stated that:

"Joint Technical Committee (JTC1) directives also specifically state that a ‘no’ vote should be submitted if there are technical problems that need to be fixed prior to publication."

They also suggest an approach that would allow a merging of ODF and OOXML to take place:

"JTC 1 directives describe a range of document types other than full international Standards. The Standards Council has also made a recommendation the document be considered for publication as an ISO/IEC Type 2 Technical Report. This is an alternative path should the comments submitted with the ‘no’ vote be unable to be resolved. Publication as an ISO/IEC TR would elevate the status of the document, as well as bring the document under the control of JTC1 and therefore facilitate consideration of merging the document with the existing ISO/IEC 26300."

Full text here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Consensus
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 06:30 PM EDT
That depends on how they define consensus. In at least one ISO activity this is
(unofficially, I think) defined as 70% at the last vote. It's not necessarily a
dictionary definition.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Consensus does not mean Unanimous.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 06:30 PM EDT
We should avoid using the word consensus when we mean
unanimous. If a country has a 'unanimous' vote requirement
then all well and good but a 'consensus' vote requirement
result of 81 to 32 for 'no, with comments' means 'NO, WITH
COMMENTS' is the consensus.

And lets not forget that the mere fact the NB cannot get a
unanimous vote means the *only* logical, rational and
correct vote is 'No, with comments'.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO and No with Comments
Authored by: zr on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 07:33 PM EDT
On an entirely unrelated ISO activity (with no vendor issues and much less
complex!), as the UK expert I'm recommending our national response is a "No
with Comments". The comments make some technical points which if addressed
will change our vote to "Yes". I've spoken with several others
contributing to their national position who agree so although the meeting will
start with a bunch of these "No with comments", it is likely that the
consensus will be "Yes", subject to changes.

So generally in ISO terms, "No with Comments" does not mean
"No" in my personal experience.







---
Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters.

[ Reply to This | # ]

interesting Update about France
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 09:40 PM EDT
Some news from France here - See link -
http://fussnotes.typepad.com/plexnex/2007/08/france-no-with-.html
to quote " ....Matters soon got out of hand: the shouting seems to have
climaxed with the Microsoft representative insulting the management of AFNOR,
members of the Defense Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry,
and two members from the Industrial Ministry exclaiming that they were servants
of a banana republic!"



[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft gangsters
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 10:20 PM EDT
Capone would be proud.

"We're ISO members, and we want to go into the meeting."

"Youse got a Mikey-soff card?"

"A what?"

"Mikey-soff card. Are you deaf?"

"Who are you?"

"Security. I'm Boston Al. These are my associates, Memphis Louie
and Baltimore Pete."

"Why are you at an ISO meeting?"

"You tryin' to get smart? This ain't no ISA meetin'. It's a Mikey-soff
meetin'. You gotta card?"

"Uh, no, we don't work for Microsoft."

"Then take a hike."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Antitrust Violations
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 11:37 PM EDT
Don't these actions border on antitrust violates?
If not in the US then certainly in the EU.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 31 2007 @ 08:42 AM EDT
". That's overwhelmingly no. I think you can probably fill in the blanks at
what happened at the meeting on that news, however. I hear Microsoft didn't like
the vote results, and from reports coming in, the meeting became quite
heated"

Yeah I guess if you are a "Gold" partner and your living depended on
one company then yeah I guess it would be quite heated.

I hope France sticks to this vote.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France and OOXML: Majority Voted No with Comments in PreVote, But... Consensus Outcome Unknown
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 12:13 PM EDT
Apparently (according to some papers, but not yet AFNOR), France vote "No
with comments".

[ Reply to This | # ]

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