Arnaud's Blog

Opinions on open source, standards, and other things

When “Agreed” means No.

Speaking of agreement, I should point out how misleading Microsoft/Ecma’s Disposition of Comments is.

The Pro-OOXML lobbyists a la Rick Jeliffe were prompt to demonstrate with fancy graphics how “The Editor (Rex Jaeschke on behalf of ECMA TC45) has accepted the lion’s share.” Graphics that are now being reused by Microsoft in other documents prepared to convinced NBs that everything is fine, Microsoft/Ecma accepted most comments.

Of course, Microsoft conveniently forgets to mention that even Rick Jeliffe himself admitted in a follow up comment that “ISO-ese ‘Agreed’ is sometimes more like the Japanese ‘Hai’ or English ‘OK’ rather than the English ‘Yes’.” and that “indeed [this graphic] is of limited usefulness“.

Ironically enough, Rick ends up explaining that it’s because ‘People want slogans and headlines and they prefer “MS agrees to nothing” or “MS agrees to everything” to “Editor agrees to most but not all issues raised and makes suggestions in response usually prompted by the suggested solutions of the national bodies.”‘, that he made this post, all the while producing one of the most bogus and misleading piece of information for Microsoft to reuse as a headline and slogan.

I have personally read my share of comments and responses from Ecma and I had myself made this puzzling observation that while many responses start with “Agreed.” they follow with an explanation for denial of the request. Rick claims that in this case “Agreed” means “OK” but my reading of this is that it often merely means “No”.

While Microsoft/Ecma’s response is impressive in size, its content is far less impressive, and this kind of tactic can only lead to conclude that it is designed to mislead people into thinking they have agreed to most comments.

I wonder how that plays with the notion of “standards professionalism”…


February 21, 2008 - Posted by | standards | , ,


  1. Good point you made.

    I visited Rick’s blog and it just as bad as you describe it. I wrote a comment on his blog that I will repost below (deletion of comments when the blog owner fail to come up with an answer to the message seem to be a standard maneuver these days).

    * * *

    I do agree that it is silly to think that it would be impossible for Microsoft to accept changes. I mean how stupid would it be of Microsoft to agree that something is a serious issue, but then neglect to really do something about it. A more reasonably tactics would be to disagree about there beeing a problem and invent some explanation about why this is so.

    The critical question is…what does it tell us if Microsoft/Ecma can’t come up with a good enough explanation that they dare to disagree about if something is a problem?

    The only logical interpretation is that every one of the answers that include the word agree, but refuse to really do something, are that these are issues that Ecma think need to be adressed but where Microsoft has used their veto against any change.

    Comment by Fiery Spirited | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] newer reports, here is what we have just come to find about Rick Jelliffe, the man who still fights for Microsoft. The Pro-OOXML lobbyists a la Rick […]

    Pingback by Boycott Novell » Some Old and New Irregularities Surrounding the BRM in Geneva | February 22, 2008 | Reply

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