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To read comments to this article, go here
Countries' Comments on MS OOXML - How You Can Help
Tuesday, September 11 2007 @ 09:34 AM EDT

I think I see a way we could be really helpful to the ISO folks having to sort through all the 10,000 comments the various countries filed with their votes on MS OOXML.

The comments have been officially published, although as .doc files, sigh. Here's the zip file to download). But I thought I'd make them available to you as HTML also, which is how the members got them to make sure everyone has access and because of my idea. I gather someone had to process all the comments to put them into doc format, so one help would be to make sure nothing was overlooked. Other tasks might be to see that duplicates are noted, that they are sorted into various categories, like tech or not, and then subcategorized, etc. I think that might prove helpful too in making sure everything is addressed.

But the real help is this: Alex Brown has written on his weblog about another sorting he'd find helpful as he tries to get the comments properly sorted:

One curiosity of the ballot results is the degree of skepticism accompanying the votes of approval. Normally an approval vote in an ISO ballot means that the technical content has been approved. However, some of the comments accompanying approval votes look to me like they crave resolution. Indeed, Greece has gone so far as to accompany its approval vote with the following statement:
"If the Ballot Resolution Group fails to resolve satisfactorily the issues, then ELOT will reconsider its position and may cast a vote of disapproval during the BRG meeting(s) according to article 13.8 of the JTC1 directives, or may even appeal to the final adoption of the Standard."

This introduces a complication for the BRM. As convenor, one of my responsibilities is to run the meeting in a such a way that it maximises the chances of approving a text. One natural way of doing this is to de-prioritise comments that accompanied an approval vote, on the basis that those countries are already happy with the text. However, for Greece this evidently isn't an accurate assumption and the same may be true of other countries too. I need to find out which...

It occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of task that a computer might be helpful in achieving, so I'm throwing the idea out there in hopes that you guys might figure out a way to help him out. So, with that goal in mind, here is the zip file you can download to view the comments in the original HTML. The zip file is almost 3 MB, and the files are categorized by name of the organization, not by country. By that I mean, France's comments are categorized as AFNOR. So that's another sorting job.

It will also make it possible for the public to follow along as they address all the technical and other issues that blocked approval at the meeting in February and thereafter. Here's the process, explaining what happens in February, so you understand the importance of getting the sorting done well before the meeting begins.


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