W3C Process Document

6 Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups

This document defines three types of groups:

  1. Working Groups. Working Groups typically produce deliverables (e.g., Recommendation Track technical reports, software, test suites, and reviews of the deliverables of other groups). There are Good Standing requirements for Working Group participation.
  2. Interest Groups. The primary goal of an Interest Group is to bring together people who wish to evaluate potential Web technologies and policies. An Interest Group is a forum for the exchange of ideas. In general, there are no Good Standing requirements for an Interest Group. Interest Groups do not create W3C Recommendations.
  3. Coordination Groups. A Coordination Group manages dependencies and facilitates communication with other groups, within or outside of W3C.

6.1 Requirements for All Working, Interest, and Coordination Groups

Each group MUST have a charter. Requirements for the charter depend on the group type. All group charters MUST be public (even if other proceedings of the group are Member-only). Existing charters that are not yet public MUST be made public when next revised or extended (with attention to changing confidentiality level).

Each group MUST have a Chair (or co-Chairs) to coordinate the group's tasks. The Director appoints (and re-appoints) Chairs for all groups. The role of the Chair [MEM14] is described in the Member Guide [MEM9].

Each group MUST have a Team Contact, who acts as the interface between the Chair, group participants, and the rest of the Team. The role of the Team Contact is described in the Member Guide.

The Chair and the Team Contact of a group SHOULD NOT be the same individual. The Chair MAY be a member of the Team.

Each group MUST have an archived mailing list for formal group communication (e.g., for meeting announcements and minutes, documentation of decisions, and objections to decisions). It is the responsibility of the Chair and Team Contact to ensure that new participants are subscribed to all relevant mailing lists. Refer to the list of group mailing lists [MEM2].

A Chair MAY form task forces (composed of group participants) to carry out assignments for the group. The scope of these assignments MUST NOT exceed the scope of the group's charter. A group SHOULD document the process it uses to create task forces (e.g., each task force might have an informal "charter"). Task forces do not publish technical reports; the Working Group MAY choose to publish their results as part of a technical report.

6.2 Working Groups and Interest Groups

Although Working Groups and Interest Groups have different purposes, they share some characteristics, and so are defined together in the following sections.

6.2.1 Working Group and Interest Group Participation Requirements

There are four types of participants in a Working Group: the Chair, Member representatives, invited experts, and Team representatives (including the Team Contact).

There are five types of participants in an Interest Group: the same four types as for Working Groups plus, for an Interest Group where the only participation requirement is mailing list subscription, public participants.

Except where noted in this document or in a group charter, all participants share the same rights and responsibilities in a group; see also the individual participation criteria.

A participant MUST represent at most one organization in a Working Group or Interest Group.

An individual MAY become a Working or Interest Group participant at any time during the group's existence.

On an exceptional basis, a Working or Interest Group participant MAY designate a substitute to attend a meeting and SHOULD inform the Chair. The substitute MAY act on behalf of the participant, including for votes. For the substitute to vote, the participant MUST inform the Chair in writing in advance. As a courtesy to the group, if the substitute is not well-versed in the group's discussions, the regular participant SHOULD authorize another participant to act as proxy for votes.

To allow rapid progress, Working Groups are intended to be small (typically fewer than 15 people) and composed of experts in the area defined by the charter. In principle, Interest Groups have no limit on the number of participants. When a Working Group grows too large to be effective, W3C MAY split it into an Interest Group (a discussion forum) and a much smaller Working Group (a core group of highly dedicated participants).

6.2.1.1 Member Representative in a Working Group

An individual is a Member representative in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

A Member organization participates in a Working Group if at least one individual satisfies these criteria for the Member.

To designate an individual as a Member representative in a Working Group, an Advisory Committee representative MUST provide the Chair and Team Contact with all of the following information, in addition to any other information required by the Call for Participation and charter:

  1. The name of the W3C Member the individual represents and whether the individual is an employee of that Member organization
  2. A disclosure, according to the W3C IPR policy, of knowledge of relevant IPR claims by the organization the individual is representing
  3. A statement that the individual accepts the participation terms set forth in the charter (with an indication of charter date or version)
  4. A statement that the Member will provide the necessary financial support for participation (e.g., for travel, telephone calls, and conferences)
6.2.1.2 Member Representative in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, an individual is a Member representative in an Interest Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

A Member organization participates in an Interest Group if at least one individual satisfies these criteria for the Member.

To designate an individual as a Member representative in an Interest Group, the Advisory Committee representative MUST follow the instructions in the Call for Participation and charter.

6.2.1.3 Invited Expert in a Working Group

The Chair MAY invite an individual with a particular expertise to participate in a Working Group. This individual MAY represent an organization in the group (e.g., if acting as a liaison with another organization).

An individual is an invited expert in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

To designate an individual as an invited expert in a Working Group, the Chair MUST inform the Team Contact and provide rationale for the choice. When the Chair and the Team Contact disagree about a designation, the Director determines whether the individual will be invited to participate in the Working Group.

To be able to participate in a Working Group as an invited expert, an individual MUST do all of the following:

The Chair SHOULD NOT designate as an invited expert in a Working Group an individual who is an employee of a W3C Member. The Chair MUST NOT use invited expert status to circumvent participation limits imposed by the charter.

6.2.1.4 Invited Expert in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, the participation requirements for an invited expert in an Interest Group are the same as those for an invited expert in a Working Group, except that Good Standing is not required.

6.2.1.5 Team Representative in a Working Group

An individual is a Team representative in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

6.2.1.6 Team Representative in an Interest Group

When the participation requirements exceed Interest Group mailing list subscription, an individual is a Team representative in an Interest Group when so designated by W3C management.

6.2.1.7 Good Standing in a Working Group

Participation in a Working Group on an ongoing basis implies a serious commitment to the charter, including all of the following:

When the Chair and the Team Contact agree, the Chair MAY declare that a participant is no longer in Good Standing (henceforth called "Bad Standing"). If there is disagreement between the Chair and the Team Contact about standing, the Director determines the participant's standing. The Chair MAY declare a Team participant to be in Bad Standing, but it is clearly preferable for the Chair, Team participant, and W3C management to resolve issues internally.

A participant MAY be declared in Bad Standing in any of the following circumstances:

Although all participants representing an organization SHOULD attend all meetings, attendance by one representative of an organization satisfies the meeting attendance requirement for all representatives of the organization.

The above criteria MAY be relaxed if the Chair and Team Contact agree that doing so will not set back the Working Group. For example, the attendance requirement can be relaxed for reasons of expense (e.g., cost of travel) or scheduling (for example, an exceptional teleconference is scheduled at 3:00 a.m. local time for the participant). It is the responsibility of the Chair and Team Contact to apply criteria for Good Standing consistently.

When a participant risks losing Good Standing, the Chair and Team Contact are expected to discuss the matter with the participant and the participant's Advisory Committee representative (or W3C management for the Team) before declaring the participant in Bad Standing.

The Chair declares a participant in Bad Standing by informing the participant's Advisory Committee representative and the participant of the decision. If the Advisory Committee representative and Chair differ in opinion, the Advisory Committee representative MAY ask the Director to confirm or deny the decision. Invited experts declared in Bad Standing MAY appeal to the Director.

The Chair and Team Contact restore Good Standing and SHOULD do so when the individual in Bad Standing satisfies the above criteria. The Chair MUST inform the individual's Advisory Committee representative of any change in standing.

6.2.2 Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development

The Team MUST notify the Advisory Committee when a charter for a new Working Group or Interest Group is in development. The suggestions for building support around an Activity Proposal apply to charters as well.

W3C MAY begin work on a Working Group or Interest Group charter at any time. A Working Group or Interest Group MUST be part of an approved Activity.

6.2.3 Advisory Committee Review of a Working Group or Interest Group Charter

The Director MUST solicit Advisory Committee Review of every new or substantively modified Working Group or Interest Group charter. The Director is NOT REQUIRED to solicit Advisory Committee Review prior to a charter extension or for minor changes.

The Director's call for review of a substantively modified charter MUST highlight important changes (e.g., regarding deliverables or resource allocation) and include rationale for the changes.

6.2.4 Call for Participation in a Working Group or Interest Group

After Advisory Committee Review of a Working Group or Interest Group charter, the Director MAY issue a Call for Participation to the Advisory Committee. For a new group, this announcement officially creates the group. The announcement MUST include a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), and the name of the Team Contact.

After a Call for Participation, any Member representatives and invited experts MUST be designated (or re-designated).

Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal creation or substantive modification of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.

6.2.5 Working Group and Interest Group Charter Extension

To extend a Working Group or Interest Group charter with no other substantive modifications, the Director announces the extension to the Advisory Committee. The announcement MUST indicate the new duration, which MUST NOT exceed the duration of the Activity to which the group belongs. The announcement MUST also include rationale for the extension, a reference to the charter, the name(s) of the group's Chair(s), the name of the Team Contact, and instructions for joining the group.

After a charter extension, Advisory Committee representatives and the Chair are NOT REQUIRED to re-designate Member representatives and invited experts.

Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal the extension of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.

6.2.6 Working Group and Interest Group Charters

A Working Group or Interest Group charter MUST include all of the following information.

An Interest Group charter MAY specify that the only requirement for participation (by anyone) in the Interest Group is subscription to the Interest Group mailing list. This type of Interest Group MAY have public participants.

A charter MAY include additional voting procedures, but those procedures MUST NOT conflict with the voting requirements of the Process Document.

A charter MAY include provisions other than those required by this document. The charter SHOULD highlight whether additional provisions impose constraints beyond those of the W3C Process Document (e.g., limits on the number of individuals in a Working Group who represent the same Member organization or group of related Members).

6.2.7 Working Group "Heartbeat" Requirement

When a Working Group has one or more technical reports in the Recommendation Track process that is not in an end state, at least every three months the group MUST publish a new draft of at least one of them on the W3C technical reports page [PUB11]. Each Working Group SHOULD publish a new draft of each active technical report at least every three months.

In exceptional cases, the Chair MAY ask the Director to be excused from this publication requirement. However, in this case, the Working Group MUST issue a public status report with rationale why a new draft has not been published.

There are several reasons for this Working Group "heartbeat" requirement:

6.2.8 Working Group and Interest Group Closure

A Working Group or Interest Group charter specifies a duration for the group. The Director, subject to appeal by Advisory Committee representatives, MAY close a group prior to the date specified in the charter in any of the following circumstances:

The Director closes a Working Group or Interest Group by announcement to the Advisory Committee.

6.3 Coordination Groups

W3C Activities interact in many ways. There are dependencies between groups within the same Activity or in different Activities. There are also dependencies between W3C Activities and the activities of other organizations. Examples of dependencies include the use by one technology of another being developed elsewhere, scheduling constraints between groups, and the synchronization of publicity for the announcement of deliverables. Coordination Groups are created to manage dependencies so that issues are resolved fairly and the solutions are consistent with W3C's mission and results.

Where a Coordination Group's scope covers two groups with unresolved disputes or tensions, it is the first locus of resolution of these disputes.

6.3.1 Coordination Group Participation Requirements

There are four types participants in a Coordination Group: the Chair, the Chair of each coordinated group (to promote effective communication among the groups), invited experts (e.g., liaisons to groups inside or outside W3C), and Team representatives (including the Team Contact). The requirements for invited expert participation are the same as for an invited expert in a Working Group.

Coordination Group participants MUST follow the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information to the rest of the group.

There are no Good Standing requirements for Coordination Group participation; regular participation in a relevant Coordination Group is one of the roles of a group Chair [MEM14].

6.3.2 Coordination Group Creation and Closure

The Director creates or modifies a Coordination Group by sending the Coordination Group charter to the Advisory Committee. A Coordination Group MAY be created as part of an Activity Proposal (for example to coordinate other groups in the Activity or to draw up charters of future groups), or during the life of an Activity when dependencies arise. A Coordination Group MAY operate as part of several W3C Activities.

A Coordination Group SHOULD close when there is no longer a perceived need for coordination.

6.3.3 Coordination Group Charters

A Coordination Group charter MUST include all of the following information:

A charter MAY include additional voting procedures, but those procedures MUST NOT conflict with the voting requirements of the Process Document.

A charter MAY include provisions other than those required by this document. The charter SHOULD highlight whether additional provisions impose constraints beyond those of the W3C Process Document.