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This document describes the relationship between the Schema.org project, and W3C's Web Schemas Task Force, a group within the W3C Semantic Web Interest Group.
The Web Schemas TF was created as the outcome of discussions June-Sept 2011 about the relationship between Schema.org and other initiatives. It is accompanied by an HTML Data TF, also within the SWIG group, that focusses on questions of syntax (e.g. RDFa, Microdata). Ivan Herman's blog post gives more details.
The Web Schemas group is chartered as a pluralist group, and all Web-scale initiatives are welcome to collaborate using the group, which is open to full public participation. The taskforce was designed to serve as a public accountability, collaboration and feedback point for groups (such as Schema.org) who for whatever reason choose not to take the route of full W3C standardisation for their work. Issue tracker categories, Wiki space, Mercurial shared filesystem facilities and other tools are available.
While the group has no chartered focus on Schema.org, it has been nominated by the Schema.org project as its primary public feedback point. Given that Schema.org is fairly high profile, and that the group was initially motivated by a desire to bring Schema.org into a more public and collaborative mode of operation, this may mean that many of the group's discussions are about Schema.org. Therefore it is important to emphasise that the goal here is to help improve collaboration amongst many Web Schema initiatives, and that discussion of non-Schema.org efforts is very much in scope.
The Schema.org work is not on W3C's formal "standards track". Instead, Web Schemas provides a public forum through which the Schema.org project can engage with a wider community, and hopefully make better and more accountable decisions. Other vocabularies (e.g. FOAF, Dublin Core) can also use the group in this way. Participants in the group should be aware that each Web Schema initiative will have its own processes and procedures for accepting feedback, and for additions and change control. In the case of Schema.org, note that ultimate editorial control rests with the sponsors of Schema.org (see their terms of service documentation). At the time of writing, the Schema.org sponsors are Google, Inc., Yahoo, Inc., and Microsoft Corporation.
Excerpting from the Schema.org blog:
W3C "Web Schemas" group is our new public feedback forum Our Discussion Group will be moving to the W3C forum, which will use the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list. The Schema.org Google Group will not be completely shut down, however we do encourage all discussion of vocabulary, schema and deployment practicalities to move to email@example.com mailing list. These are also linked from the Documents page.
This comes out of a plan for closer collaboration between Schema.org and other related efforts. The Web standards organization W3C has created two related task forces of its Semantic Web Interest Group that are relevant for Schema.org. One is devoted to the technicalities of syntax and other one, "Web Schemas" is for vocabulary discussions. We have decided to adopt this forum as a new home for Schema.org feedback, since it provides a natural connection point to related efforts from other groups and communities.
The W3C group is open to all, and will have a Wiki and issue tracker to help organize feedback; not only for Schema.org but for other Web Schemas who are interested to collaborate. We hope this will give rise to collaborations, mappings and shared modeling styles.
Looking forward to greater opportunities for collaboration.
In addition to R.V.Guha (of Google) serving as formal chair of the taskforce, Google is also supporting (as a contractor to Google) Dan Brickley's work in this area. Specifically, Dan is contracted to support the Schema.org initiative through the mechanisms described here and through collaborative work with other initiatives. W3C Team were aware of the plans for this arrangement while the group was being discussed. This page serves to document this relationship; in case of further questions or concerns, please contact Guha, Dan and/or Ivan Herman. Dan continues also to have an affiliation to Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam for W3C work, but has stepped down as VU W3C AC Rep to avoid confusion about roles.