This section describes general policies for W3C groups regarding participation, meeting requirements, and decision-making. These policies apply to participants in the following groups: Advisory Committee, Advisory Board, TAG, Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups.
There are three qualities an individual is expected to demonstrate in order to participate in W3C:
Advisory Committee representatives who nominate individuals from their organization for participation in W3C Activities are responsible for assessing and attesting to the qualities of those nominees.
Individuals participating materially in W3C work MUST disclose significant relationships when those relationships might reasonably be perceived as creating a conflict of interest with the individual's role at W3C. These disclosures MUST be kept up-to-date as the individual's affiliations change and W3C membership evolves (since, for example, the individual might have a relationship with an organization that joins or leaves W3C). Each section in this document that describes a W3C group provides more detail about the disclosure mechanisms for that group.
The ability of an individual to fulfill a role within a group without risking a conflict of interest is clearly a function of the individual's affiliations. When these affiliations change, the individual's assignment to the role MUST be evaluated. The role MAY be reassigned according to the appropriate process. For instance, the Director MAY appoint a new group Chair when the current Chair changes affiliations (e.g., if there is a risk of conflict of interest, or if there is risk that the Chair's new employer will be over-represented within a W3C Activity).
The following are some scenarios where disclosure is appropriate:
Individuals seeking assistance on these matters SHOULD contact the Team.
Team members are subject to the W3C Team conflict of interest policy [PUB23].
Generally, individuals representing a Member in an official capacity within W3C are employees of the Member organization. However, an Advisory Committee representative MAY designate a non-employee to represent the Member. Non-employee Member representatives MUST disclose relevant affiliations to the Team and to any group in which the individual participates.
In exceptional circumstances (e.g., situations that might jeopardize the progress of a group or create a conflict of interest), the Director MAY decline to allow an individual designated by an Advisory Committee representative to participate in a group.
A group charter MAY limit the number of individuals representing a W3C Member (or group of related Members).
W3C groups (including the Advisory Committee, Advisory Board, TAG, and Working Groups) SHOULD observe the meeting requirements in this section.
W3C distinguishes two types of meetings:
A Chair MAY invite an individual with a particular expertise to attend a meeting on an exceptional basis. This person is a meeting guest, not a group participant. Meeting guests do not have voting rights. It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that all meeting guests respect the chartered level of confidentiality and other group requirements.
Meeting announcements SHOULD be sent to all appropriate group mailing lists, i.e., those most relevant to the anticipated meeting participants.
The following table lists requirements for organizing a meeting:
|Face-to-face meetings||Distributed meetings|
|Meeting announcement (before)||eight weeks*||one week*|
|Agenda available (before)||two weeks||24 hours (or longer if a meeting is scheduled after a weekend or holiday)|
|Participation confirmed (before)||three days||24 hours|
|Action items available (after)||three days||24 hours|
|Minutes available (after)||two weeks||48 hours|
* To allow proper planning (e.g., travel arrangements), the Chair is responsible for giving sufficient advance notice about the date and location of a meeting. Shorter notice for a meeting is allowed provided that there are no objections from group participants.
The W3C process requires Chairs to ensure that groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor to resolve them, whether these views and objections are expressed by the active participants of the group or by others (e.g., another W3C group, a group in another organization, or the general public). Decisions MAY be made during meetings (face-to-face or distributed) as well as through email. The following terms are used in this document to describe the level of support for a group decision:
Where unanimity is not possible, a group SHOULD strive to make decisions where there is at least consensus with significant support (i.e., few abstentions). To avoid decisions that are made despite nearly universal apathy (i.e., with little support and many abstentions), groups SHOULD set minimum thresholds of active support before a decision can be recorded. The appropriate percentage MAY vary depending on the size of the group and the nature of the decision. A group charter MAY include a quorum requirement for consensus decisions by participants.
In some cases, even after careful consideration of all points of view, a group might find itself unable to reach consensus. When this happens, if there is a need to advance (for example, to produce a deliverable in a timely manner), the Chair MAY announce a decision to which there is dissent. As part of making the decision, the Chair is expected to be aware of which participants work for the same (or related) Member organizations and weigh their input accordingly. When a decision is made despite dissent, groups SHOULD favor proposals that create the least strong objections. This is preferred over proposals that are supported by a large majority but that cause strong objections from a few people.
The Chair decides when to resolve an issue in the face of dissent. In this case a dissenter MAY register a formal objection.
Note: The Director, W3C Chair, and COO have the role of assessing consensus within the Advisory Committee.
In the context of this document, a group has formally addressed an issue when it has sent a substantive response to the reviewer who raised the issue. A substantive response is expected to include rationale for decisions (e.g., a technical explanation, a pointer to charter scope, or a pointer to a requirements document). The adequacy of a response is measured against what a W3C reviewer would generally consider to be technically sound.
If a group believes that a reviewer's comments result from a misunderstanding, the group SHOULD seek clarification. The group's substantive response SHOULD remind the reviewer that, if dissatisfied with the response, the reviewer has the right to register a formal objection.
As a courtesy, both Chairs and reviewers SHOULD set expectations for the schedule of responses and acknowledgments. The group SHOULD reply to a reviewer's initial comments in a timely manner. The group SHOULD set a time limit for acknowledgment by a reviewer of the group's substantive response; a reviewer cannot block a group's progress. It is common for a reviewer to require a week or more to acknowledge and comment on a substantive response. The group's responsibility to respond to reviewers does not end once a reasonable amount of time has elapsed. However, reviewers SHOULD realize that their comments will carry less weight if not sent to the group in a timely manner.
Substantive responses SHOULD be recorded. The group SHOULD maintain an accurate summary of all substantive issues and responses to them (e.g., in the form of an issues list with links to mailing list archives).
If dissenters say they can live with a given decision, this is a sufficient indication that the group can move on to the next topic, but the inverse is not necessarily true: dissenters cannot stop a group's work simply by saying that they cannot live with the decision. When the Chair believes that the legitimate concerns of the dissenters have received due consideration as far as is possible and reasonable, then objections MUST be recorded and the group SHOULD move on.
A formal objection SHOULD include technical arguments and propose changes that would remove the dissenter's objection; these proposals MAY be vague or incomplete. The Chair MUST report an objection that includes such information to the Director at later review stages (e.g., in the request to the Director to advance a technical report to Candidate Recommendation). If an objection does not include this information, the Chair is NOT REQUIRED to report it at later review stages.
During an Advisory Committee Review, Advisory Committee representatives MUST be able to refer to recorded objections.
A version of each formal objection MUST be publicly available.
The Chair MAY reopen a decision when presented with new information, including:
The Chair SHOULD record that a decision has been reopened, and MUST do so upon request from a group participant.
A group SHOULD only conduct a vote to resolve a substantive issue after the Chair has determined that all available means of reaching consensus through technical discussion and compromise have failed, and that a vote is necessary to break a deadlock. In this case the Chair MUST record (e.g., in the minutes of the meeting or in an archived email message):
In order to vote to resolve a substantive issue, an individual MUST be a group participant. Each organization represented in the group MUST have at most one vote, even when the organization is represented by several participants in the group. For the purposes of voting:
Unless the charter states otherwise, invited experts MAY vote. Organizations represented by one or more invited experts are subject to the same one vote limitation.
If a participant is unable to attend a vote, that individual MAY authorize anyone at the meeting to act as a proxy. The absent participant MUST inform the Chair in writing who is acting as proxy, with written instructions on the use of the proxy. For a Working Group or Interest Group, see the related requirements regarding an individual who attends a meeting as a substitute for a participant.
A group MAY vote for other purposes than to resolve a substantive issue. For instance, the Chair often conducts a "straw poll" vote as a means of determining whether there is consensus about a potential decision.
A group MAY also vote to make a process decision. For example, it is appropriate to decide by simple majority whether to hold a meeting in San Francisco or San Jose (there's not much difference geographically). When simple majority votes are used to decide minor issues, the minority are NOT REQUIRED to state the reasons for their dissent, and the group is NOT REQUIRED to record individual votes.
A group charter SHOULD include formal voting procedures (e.g., quorum requirements or when a supermajority is required) for making decisions about substantive issues.
Procedures for Advisory Committee votes are described separately.
Groups resolve issues through dialog. Individuals who disagree strongly with a decision SHOULD register with the Chair any objections (e.g., to a decision made as the result of a vote).
When group participants believe that their concerns are not being duly considered by the group, they MAY ask the Director (for representatives of a Member organization, via their Advisory Committee representative) to confirm or deny the decision. The participants SHOULD also make their requests known to the Team Contact. The Team Contact MUST inform the Director when a group participant has raised concerns about due process.
Any requests to the Director to confirm a decision MUST include a summary of the issue (whether technical or procedural), decision, and rationale for the objection. All counter-arguments, rationales, and decisions MUST be recorded.
Procedures for Advisory Committee appeals are described separately.