Posting Links to Ballots (was: RE: Why blackletter letters?)

From: Whistler, Ken <>
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2013 19:35:03 +0000

David Starner asked:

> Would it be possible to post links to the next ballots like these on
> this list so that we can comment on them when they're live? It's a lot
> harder to discuss them without actual links to the proposals or actual
> ballots (more then just the names).

Well, technically, no, we cannot post links to the ballots. (But
continue reading...)

The reasons for that are rather arcane, but come down to the fact
that ISO ballots are controlled documents, and are processed through
a document workflow that has a bunch of restrictions on who gets
to access what when.

The situation for this has actually gotten worse recently, as ISO has
clamped down on its subcommittees' document handling.

The way this is now supposed to work (for ISO/IEC 10646) is:

The project editor submits ballot text to the SC2 Secretariat (in Japan).
(Once that happens, not even the project editor has direct access
to the document again.)

The SC2 Secretariat prepares the actual ballot, and then notifies
all of the participating national bodies:

The actual list of national bodies which participate in SC2 projects
specifically is much shorter, of course, but is hard to pin down

This notification is now done via ISO's Livelink document system for
its technical committees. You can navigate to there from, but
here is a direct link to the public view for ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2 home on
the ISO Livelink server:

Anybody can see that page, and there is certain public information
available. You can see status listed for when a ballot is open
and when a current meeting is underway, for example.

Some documents are accessible publicly. For example, meeting notices,
agenda, meeting reports, resolutions, etc. But access to most other
documents requires password access and is strictly controlled by role.

Access to ballots is limited to designated parties in the national body
organizations only. *Their* role is to pull current ballot documents
from the Livelink site and then distribute them to the designated
TAG committee within their own organization.

For example, in the case of the U.S. standards organization, ANSI is
the official ISO member body for the U.S. However, a separate organization,
INCITS, contains most of the TAG committees which actually deal with
IT standards processed within ISO/IEC JTC1. (The story is different for
the many other non-IT standards that ISO also deals with.)

INCITS has its own set of committees and its own document control
system (ICMS). The INCITS central bureaucracy monitors the ISO/IEC JTC1 Livelink
site and pulls and distributes ballot documents (and other relevant
access-controlled information) into the relevant portions of their
document control system. In the case of ISO/IEC 10646, the relevant
TAG is actually the L2 committee of INCITS:

When a ballot is pushed into the INCITS system, the chair
of the L2 committee is notified, and automatic "tickles" are sent to
all of the representatives of the member companies of L2, letting them
know that some review and decision action is required. Membership
in L2 is not free, and access is also password controlled. At some point
L2 meets and determines the content of its vote. The chair then posts
that back into the system. INCITS collects that and posts the result back
to SC2 in the ISO system. And the SC2 Secretariat is responsible for
tabulating all of the national body responses and determining the
outcome of a ballot. Finally, at that point, the SC2 Secretariat turns all of the results
over to the project editor and the relevant working group (in this
case SC2/WG2). The project editor works on formal resolution of all the comments
submitted with ballots, and then the whole cycle may start over again
to create a new ballot.

*takes a deep breath*

If you have followed to here, you can see that while ISO follows
a nominally public process, the process is carefully hermetically sealed
against any actual public participation. Everything is piped up and down
through the document control hierarchy, and with a workflow process
that assumes that any "public" interaction *must* be channeled through
an official national body standards group.

Now if you want to directly participate in the national body deliberation,
commenting, and voting, you need to hie thee hence to the national
body for your relevant country, and navigate their particular membership
and participation requirements, which vary from country to country.
In the case of the U.S., you could go to and shell out the annual
membership for your organization to join INCITS/L2 (they don't do individual
memberships), and thereby gain access to the document system and relevant ballots.

For most folks just interested in this process, however, there is an easier way!
The Unicode Consortium is itself a member of INCITS/L2. That is the means
by which we engage in all the committee dancing which is necessary to
keep the Unicode Standard and ISO/IEC 10646 in synch, after all.

And the Unicode Technical Committee *does* have a freely accessible
public document register:

as well as mechanisms to funnel actual, public input and comment into
its deliberations:

And fortunately for everybody, there *is* a way to get a sneak preview, as it
were, of content going into ballots in the formal ISO workflow. For the
repertoire under ballot, at least, there are draft documents which are
regularly posted into the UTC document register, in advance of ISO balloting.
These are not official ballots, and do not contain associated text changes under
ballot for 10646, but they do contain the essential information about
repertoire additions which are what most folks need to understand what is
under consideration for addition to the standard.

The two currently relevant documents are:

Draft repertoire for FDAM2 of ISO/IEC 10646:2012 (3rd edition) (WG2 N4458):


Draft additional repertoire for ISO/IEC 10646:2014 (4th edition) (WG2 N4459)

The first of those is for an FDAM ballot. That is a non-technical "approval" ballot,
and that means that it is too late to be commenting on code points or
character names for that one. Those characters are *already* a done deal,
and are committed (eventually) for Unicode 7.0.

But the second document, L2/13-151 (= WG2 N4459) is what people who care
should focus on right now. There is one more technical ballot on that content
(not yet initiated, but imminent). If people want to have an impact, study
*that* repertoire listing, and then funnel feedback to the Unicode Technical
Committee before its scheduled November meeting. If your comments and
feedback get on the agenda for the UTC meeting, then they can be formally
discussed and have a chance to influence the recommendations that the UTC
makes for its own voting in INCITS/L2, which can then result in relevant
comments being added to formal ballots which get back to SC2 eventually.

And in the future, your best bets are to monitor the Unicode Pipeline and
Pending pages:

Those pages are updated shortly after every UTC and WG2 meeting. And
when new content is posted from WG2 meetings, in particular, scan the
current UTC document registry to look for the "draft repertoire" documents which
show up from the 10646 project editor.

*That* is how you stay clued in here, and how you can review content that
will be balloted, soon enough to have a potential impact on decisions
about encoding, before they become fait accompli that we just have to

Received on Wed Sep 11 2013 - 14:37:09 CDT

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