Most W3C work revolves around the standardization of Web technologies. To accomplish this work, W3C follows processes that promote the development of high-quality standards based on the consensus of the Membership, Team, and public. W3C processes promote fairness, responsiveness, and progress: all facets of the W3C mission. This document describes the processes W3C follows in pursuit of its mission.
Here is a general overview of how W3C standardizes a Web technology. In many cases, the goal of this work is a W3C Recommendation, the W3C equivalent of a Web standard.
- People generate interest in a particular topic (e.g., Web services). For instance, Members express interest in the form of Member Submissions, and the Team monitors work inside and outside of W3C for signs of interest. Also, W3C is likely to organize a Workshop to bring people together to discuss topics that interest the W3C community. This was the case, for example, with Web services.
- When there is enough interest in a topic (e.g., after a successful Workshop and/or discussion on an Advisory Committee mailing list), the Director announces the development of a proposal for a new Activity or Working Group charter, depending on the breadth of the topic of interest. An Activity Proposal describes the scope, duration, and other characteristics of the intended work, and includes the charters of one or more Working Groups, Interest Groups, and possibly Coordination Groups to carry out the work. W3C Members review each Activity Proposal and the associated Working Group charters. When there is support within W3C for investing resources in the topic of interest, the Director approves the new Activity and groups get down to work. For the Web Services Activity, the initial Activity Proposal called for one Working Group to work on Web Services Architecture and one to work on a language for Web Services Description. The Activity Proposal also incorporated an existing Working Group (from another Activity) working on XML Protocols.
- There are three types of Working Group participants: Member representatives, Invited Experts, and Team representatives. Team representatives both contribute to the technical work and help ensure the group's proper integration with the rest of W3C. The Working Group charter sets expectations about each group's deliverables (e.g., technical reports, test suites, and tutorials).
- Working Groups generally create specifications and guidelines that undergo cycles of revision and review as they advance to W3C Recommendation status. The W3C process for producing these technical reports includes significant review by the Members and public, and requirements that the Working Group be able to show implementation and interoperability experience. At the end of the process, the Advisory Committee reviews the mature technical report, and if there is support, W3C publishes it as a Recommendation.
The Process Document promotes the goals of quality and fairness in technical decisions by encouraging consensus, requiring reviews (by both Members and public) as part of the technical report development process, and through an appeal process for the Advisory Committee.
The other sections of the Process Document:
- set forth policies for participation in W3C groups,
- establish two permanent groups within W3C: the Technical Architecture Group (TAG), to help resolve Consortium-wide technical issues; and the Advisory Board (AB), to help resolve Consortium-wide non-technical issues, and to manage the evolution of the W3C process, and
- describe other interactions between the Members (as represented by the W3C Advisory Committee), the Team, and the general public.
W3C's mission is to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C Member organizations provide resources to this end, and the W3C Team provides the technical leadership and organization to coordinate the effort.
W3C Members are primarily represented in W3C processes as follows:
- The Advisory Committee is composed of one
representative from each Member organization (refer to the Member-only
list of current Advisory
Committee representatives [MEM1]).
The Advisory Committee:
- reviews plans for W3C at each Advisory Committee meeting;
- reviews formal proposals from the W3C Director: Activity Proposals, Proposed Recommendations, and Proposed Process Documents.
- elects the Advisory Board participants other than the Advisory Board Chair.
- elects 5 of the 9 participants on the Technical Architecture Group.
- Representatives of Member organizations participate in Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups and author and review technical reports.
W3C membership is open to all entities, as described in "How to Join W3C" [PUB5]; (refer to the public list of current W3C Members [PUB8]). Organizations subscribe according to the Membership Agreement [PUB6]. The Team MUST ensure that Member participation agreements remain Team-only and that no Member receives preferential treatment within W3C.
W3C does not have a class of membership tailored to, or priced for individuals. However, an individual MAY join W3C as an Affiliate Member. In this case the same restrictions pertaining to related Members apply when the individual also represents another W3C Member.
2.1.1 Rights of Members
Each Member organization enjoys the following rights and benefits:
- A seat on the Advisory Committee;
- Access to Member-only information;
- The Member Submission process;
- Use of the W3C Member logo on promotional material and to publicize the Member's participation in W3C. For more information, please refer to the Member logo usage policy described in the New Member Orientation [MEM4].
Furthermore, representatives of Member organizations participate in W3C as follows:
- In Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups.
- In Workshops and Symposia;
- On the Team, as W3C Fellows.
In the case (described in paragraph 5g of the Membership Agreement), where a Member organization is itself a consortium, user society, or otherwise has members or sponsors, the organization's paid staff and Advisory Committee representative exercise all the rights and privileges of W3C membership. In addition, the Advisory Committee representative MAY designate up to four (or more at the Team's discretion) individuals who, though not employed by the organization, MAY exercise the rights of Member representatives. These individuals MUST disclose their employment affiliation when participating in W3C work. Provisions for related Members apply. Furthermore, these individuals are expected to represent the broad interests of the W3C Member organization and not the parochial interests of their employers.
The rights and benefits of W3C membership are contingent upon conformance to the processes described in this document. The vast majority of W3C Members faithfully follow the spirit as well as the letter of these processes. When serious and/or repeated violations do occur, and repeated attempts to address these violations have not resolved the situation, the Director MAY take disciplinary action. Arbitration in the case of further disagreement is governed by paragraph 19 of the Membership Agreement. Refer to the Guidelines for Disciplinary Action [MEM14].
2.1.2 Related Members
In the interest of ensuring the integrity of the consensus process, Member involvement in some of the processes in this document is affected by related Member status. As used herein, two Members are related if:
- Either Member is a subsidiary of the other, or
- Both Members are subsidiaries of a common entity, or
- The Members have an employment contract or consulting contract that affects W3C participation.
A subsidiary is an organization of which effective control and/or majority ownership rests with another, single organization.
2.1.3 Advisory Committee (AC)
When an organization joins W3C (see "How to Join W3C" [PUB5]), it MUST name its Advisory Committee representative as part of the Membership Agreement. The New Member Orientation explains how to subscribe or unsubscribe to Advisory Committee mailing lists, provides information about Advisory Committee meetings, explains how to name a new Advisory Committee representative, and more. Advisory Committee representatives MUST follow the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information according to the mechanisms described in the New Member Orientation. See also the additional roles of Advisory Committee representatives described in the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33].
184.108.40.206 Advisory Committee Mailing Lists
The Team MUST provide two mailing lists for use by the Advisory Committee:
- One for official announcements (e.g., those required by this document) from the Team to the Advisory Committee. This list is read-only for Advisory Committee representatives.
- One for discussion among Advisory Committee representatives. Though this list is primarily for Advisory Committee representatives, the Team MUST monitor discussion and SHOULD participate in discussion when appropriate. Ongoing detailed discussions SHOULD be moved to other appropriate lists (new or existing, such as a mailing list created for a Workshop).
An Advisory Committee representative MAY request that additional individuals from their organization be subscribed to these lists. Failure to contain distribution internally MAY result in suspension of additional email addresses, at the discretion of the Team.
220.127.116.11 Advisory Committee Meetings
The Team organizes a face-to-face meeting for the Advisory Committee twice a year. The Team appoints the Chair of these meetings (generally the W3C Chair or Chief Operating Officer). At each Advisory Committee meeting, the Team SHOULD provide an update to the Advisory Committee about:
- The number of Full and Affiliate W3C Members.
- An overview of the financial status of W3C.
- The allocation of the annual budget, including size of the Team and their approximate deployment.
- A list of all Activities and brief status statement about each, in particular those started or terminated since the previous Advisory Committee meeting.
- The allocation of resources to pursuing liaisons with other organizations.
Each Member organization SHOULD send one representative to each Advisory Committee meeting. In exceptional circumstances (e.g., during a period of transition between representatives from an organization), the meeting Chair MAY allow a Member organization to send two representatives to a meeting.
The Team MUST announce the date and location of each Advisory Committee meeting no later than at the end of the previous meeting; one year's notice is preferred. The Team MUST announce the region of each Advisory Committee meeting at least one year in advance.
2.2 The W3C Team
The Team consists of the W3C paid staff, unpaid interns, and W3C Fellows. W3C Fellows are Member employees working as part of the Team; see the W3C Fellows Program [PUB32]. The Team provides technical leadership about Web technologies, organizes and manages W3C Activities to reach goals within practical constraints (such as resources available), and communicates with the Members and the public about the Web and W3C technologies.
The Team is led by the Director, W3C Chair, and Chief Operating Officer. These individuals MAY delegate responsibility (generally to other individuals in the Team) for any of their roles described in this document.
The Director is the lead technical architect at W3C and as such, is responsible for assessing consensus within W3C for architectural choices, publication of technical reports, and new Activities. The Director appoints group Chairs and has the role of "tie-breaker" for questions of Good Standing in a Working Group or appeal of a Working Group decision. The Director is generally Chair of the TAG.
Team administrative information such as Team salaries, detailed budgeting, and other business decisions are Team-only, subject to oversight by the Host institutions.
Note: W3C is not currently incorporated. For legal contracts, W3C is represented by three "Host" institutions: the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), Keio University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Within W3C, the Host institutions are governed by joint sponsorship contracts; the Hosts themselves are not W3C Members.
2.2.1 Team Submissions
Team members MAY request that the Director publish information at the W3C Web site. At the Director's discretion, these documents are published as "Team Submissions". These documents are analogous to Member Submissions (e.g., in expected scope). However, there is no additional Team comment. The document status section of a Team Submission indicates the level of Team consensus about the published material.
Team Submissions are not part of the technical report development process.
Created in March 1998, the Advisory Board provides ongoing guidance to the Team on issues of strategy, management, legal matters, process, and conflict resolution. The Advisory Board also serves the Members by tracking issues raised between Advisory Committee meetings, soliciting Member comments on such issues, and proposing actions to resolve these issues. The Advisory Board manages the evolution of the Process Document. The Advisory Board hears appeals of Member Submission requests that are rejected for reasons unrelated to Web architecture; see also the TAG.
The Advisory Board is not a board of directors and has no decision-making authority within W3C; its role is strictly advisory.
The Team MUST make available a mailing list for the Advisory Board to use for its communication, confidential to the Advisory Board and Team.
The Advisory Board SHOULD send a summary of each of its meetings to the Advisory Committee and other group Chairs. The Advisory Board SHOULD also report on its activities at each Advisory Committee meeting.
Details about the Advisory Board (e.g., the list of Advisory Board participants, mailing list information, and summaries of Advisory Board meetings) are available at the Advisory Board home page [PUB30].
The remaining nine Advisory Board participants are elected by the W3C Advisory Committee following the AB/TAG nomination and election process.
With the exception of the Chair, the terms of all Advisory Board participants are for two years. Terms are staggered so that each year, either four or five terms expire. If an individual is elected to fill an incomplete term, that individual's term ends at the normal expiration date of that term. Regular Advisory Board terms begin on 1 July and end on 30 June.
Created in February 2001, the mission of the TAG is stewardship of the Web architecture. There are three aspects to this mission:
- to document and build consensus around principles of Web architecture and to interpret and clarify these principles when necessary;
- to resolve issues involving general Web architecture brought to the TAG;
- to help coordinate cross-technology architecture developments inside and outside W3C.
The TAG's scope is limited to technical issues about Web architecture. The TAG SHOULD NOT consider administrative, process, or organizational policy issues of W3C, which are generally addressed by the W3C Advisory Committee, Advisory Board, and Team. Please refer to the TAG charter [PUB25] for more information about the background and scope of the TAG, and the expected qualifications of TAG participants.
The Team MUST make available two mailing lists for the TAG:
- a public discussion (not just input) list for issues of Web architecture. The TAG will conduct its public business on this list.
- a Member-only list for discussions within the TAG and for requests to the TAG that, for whatever reason, cannot be made on the public list.
The TAG MAY also request the creation of additional topic-specific, public mailing lists. For some TAG discussions (e.g., an appeal of a rejected Member Submission request), the TAG MAY use a list that will be Member-only.
When the TAG votes to resolve an issue, each TAG participant (whether appointed, elected, or the Chair) has one vote; see also the section on voting in the TAG charter [PUB25] and the general section on votes in this Process Document.
The TAG consists of eight elected or appointed participants and a Chair. The Team appoints the Chair of the TAG, who is generally the Director.
Three TAG participants are appointed by the Director. Appointees are NOT REQUIRED to be on the W3C Team. The Director MAY appoint W3C Fellows to the TAG.
The remaining five TAG participants are elected by the W3C Advisory Committee following the AB/TAG nomination and election process.
With the exception of the Chair, the terms of all TAG participants are for two years. Terms are staggered so that each year, either two or three elected terms, and either one or two appointed terms expire. If an individual is appointed or elected to fill an incomplete term, that individual's term ends at the normal expiration date of that term. Regular TAG terms begin on 1 February and end on 31 January.
Advisory Board and TAG participants have a special role within W3C: they are elected by the Membership and appointed by the Director with the expectation that they will use their best judgment to find the best solutions for the Web, not just for any particular network, technology, vendor, or user. Advisory Board and TAG participants are expected to participate regularly and fully. Good Standing rules as defined for Working Group participants also apply to Advisory Board and TAG participants. Advisory Board and TAG participants SHOULD attend Advisory Committee meetings.
An individual participates on the Advisory Board or TAG from the moment the individual's term begins until the term ends or the seat is vacated. Although Advisory Board and TAG participants do not advocate for the commercial interests of their employers, their participation does carry the responsibilities associated with Member representation, Invited Expert status, or Team representation (as described in the section on the AB/TAG nomination and election process). See also the licensing obligations on TAG participants in section 3 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33], and the claim exclusion process of section 4.
Given the few seats available on the Advisory Board and the TAG, and in order to ensure that the diversity of W3C Members is represented:
- A Member organization is permitted at most one participant on the TAG.
- A Member organization is permitted at most one participant on the AB.
- An individual MUST NOT participate on both the TAG and the AB.
If, for whatever reason, these constraints are not satisfied (e.g., because a TAG or AB participant changes jobs), one participant MUST cease TAG or AB participation until the situation has been resolved. If after 30 days the situation has not been resolved, the Chair will declare one participant's seat to be vacant. When more than one individual is involved, the verifiable random selection procedure described below will be used to choose one person for continued participation.
The Advisory Board and a portion of the Technical Architecture Group are elected by the Advisory Committee. An election begins when the Team sends a Call for Nominations to the Advisory Committee. Any Call for Nominations specifies the number of available seats, the deadline for nominations, and the address where nominations are sent. The Director SHOULD announce appointments no later than the start of a nomination period, and generally as part of the Call for Nominations.
Each Member (or group of related Members) MAY nominate one individual. A nomination MUST be made with the consent of the nominee. In order for an individual to be nominated as a Member representative, the individual MUST qualify for Member representation and the Member's Advisory Committee representative MUST include in the nomination the (same) information required for a Member representative in a Working Group. In order for an individual to be nominated as an Invited Expert, the individual MUST provide the (same) information required for an Invited Expert in a Working Group and the nominating Advisory Committee representative MUST include that information in the nomination. In order for an individual to be nominated as a Team representative, the nominating Advisory Committee representative MUST first secure approval from Team management. A nominee is NOT REQUIRED to be an employee of a Member organization, and MAY be a W3C Fellow. Each nomination SHOULD include a few informative paragraphs about the nominee.
If, after the deadline for nominations, the number of nominees is:
- Equal to the number of available seats, those nominees are thereby elected. This situation constitutes a tie for the purposes of assigning short terms.
- Less than the number of available seats, Calls for Nominations are issued until a sufficient number of people have been nominated. Those already nominated do not need to be renominated after a renewed call.
- Greater than the number of available seats, the Team issues a Call for Votes that includes the names of all candidates, the number of available seats, the deadline for votes, and the address where votes are sent.
When there is a vote, each Member (or group of related Members) MAY vote for as many candidates as there are available seats; see the section on Advisory Committee votes. Once the deadline for votes has passed, the Team announces the results to the Advisory Committee. The candidates with the most votes are elected to the available seats. In case of a tie where there are more apparent winners than available seats (e.g., three candidates receive 10 votes each for two seats), the verifiable random selection procedure described below will be used to fill the available seats.
The shortest term is assigned to the elected individual who received the fewest votes, the next shortest to the elected individual who received the next fewest, and so on. In the case of a tie among those eligible for a short term, the verifiable random selection procedure described below will be used to assign the short term.
When it is necessary to use a verifiable random selection process (e.g., in an AB or TAG election, to "draw straws" in case of a tie or to fill a short term), W3C uses the random and verifiable procedure defined in RFC 2777 [RFC2777]. The procedure orders an input list of names (listed in alphabetical order by family name unless otherwise specified) into a "result order."
W3C applies this procedure as follows:
- When N people have tied for M (less than N) seats. In this case, only the names of the N individuals who tied are provided as input to the procedure. The M seats are assigned in result order.
- After all elected individuals have been identified, when N people are eligible for M (less than N) short terms. In this case, only the names of those N individuals are provided as input to the procedure. The short terms are assigned in result order.
An Advisory Board or TAG participant's seat is vacated when either of the following occurs:
- the participant resigns, or
- the Chair asks the participant to resign, for example because the participant has failed to remain in Good Standing.
When an Advisory Board or TAG participant changes affiliations, as long as Advisory Board and TAG participation constraints are respected, the individual MAY continue to participate until the next regularly scheduled election for that group. Otherwise, the seat is vacated.
Vacated seats are filled according to this schedule:
- When an appointed TAG seat is vacated, the Director MAY re-appoint someone immediately, but no later than the next regularly scheduled election.
- When an elected seat on either the AB or TAG is vacated, the seat is filled at the next regularly scheduled election for the group unless the group Chair requests that W3C hold an election before then (for instance, due to the group's workload). The group Chair SHOULD NOT request an exceptional election if the next regularly scheduled election is fewer than three months away.
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:
- Technical competence in one's role
- The ability to act fairly
- Social competence in one's role
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:
- Paid consulting for an organization whose activity is relevant to W3C, or any consulting compensated with equity (shares of stock, stock options, or other forms of corporate equity).
- A decision-making role/responsibility (such as participating on the Board) in other organizations relevant to W3C.
- A position on a publicly visible advisory body, even if no decision making authority is involved.
Individuals seeking assistance on these matters SHOULD contact the Team.
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 distinguishes two types of meetings:
- A face-to-face meeting is one where most of the attendees are expected to participate in the same physical location.
- A distributed meeting is one where most of the attendees are expected to participate from remote locations (e.g., by telephone, video conferencing, or IRC).
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.
Consensus is a core value of W3C. To promote consensus, 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. Note: The Director, W3C Chair, and COO have the role of assessing consensus within the Advisory Committee.
The following terms are used in this document to describe the level of support for a decision among a set of eligible individuals:
- Consensus: A substantial number of individuals in the set support the decision and nobody in the set registers a Formal Objection. Individuals in the set may abstain. Abstention is either an explicit expression of no opinion or silence by an individual in the set. Unanimity is the particular case of consensus where all individuals in the set support the decision (i.e., no individual in the set abstains).
- Dissent: At least one individual in the set registers a Formal Objection.
By default, the set of individuals eligible to participate in a decision is the set of group participants in Good Standing. The Process Document does not require a quorum for decisions (i.e., the minimal number of eligible participants required to be present before the Chair can call a question). A charter MAY include a quorum requirement for consensus decisions.
Where unanimity is not possible, a group SHOULD strive to make consensus decisions where there is significant support and few abstentions. The Process Document does not require a particular percentage of eligible participants to agree to a motion in order for a decision to be made. To avoid decisions where there is widespread apathy, (i.e., 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 charter MAY include threshold requirements for consensus decisions. For instance, a charter might require a supermajority of eligible participants (i.e., some established percentage above 50%) to support certain types of consensus decisions.
3.3.1 Managing Dissent
In some cases, even after careful consideration of all points of view, a group might find itself unable to reach consensus. The Chair MAY record a decision where there is dissent (i.e., there is at least one Formal Objection) so that the group may make progress (for example, to produce a deliverable in a timely manner). Dissenters cannot stop a group's work simply by saying that they cannot live with a decision. When the Chair believes that the Group has duly considered the legitimate concerns of dissenters as far as is possible and reasonable, the group SHOULD move on.
Groups SHOULD favor proposals that create the weakest objections. This is preferred over proposals that are supported by a large majority but that cause strong objections from a few people. As part of making a decision where there is dissent, the Chair is expected to be aware of which participants work for the same (or related) Member organizations and weigh their input accordingly.
In the W3C process, an individual may register a Formal Objection to a decision. A Formal Objection to a group decision is one that the reviewer requests that the Director consider as part of evaluating the related decision (e.g., in response to a request to advance a technical report). Note: In this document, the term "Formal Objection" is used to emphasize this process implication: Formal Objections receive Director consideration. The word "objection" used alone has ordinary English connotations.
An individual who registers a Formal Objection SHOULD cite technical arguments and propose changes that would remove the Formal Objection; these proposals MAY be vague or incomplete. Formal Objections that do not provide substantive arguments or rationale are unlikely to receive serious consideration by the Director.
A record of each Formal Objection MUST be publicly available. A Call for Review (of a document) to the Advisory Committee MUST identify any Formal Objections.
In the context of this document, a group has formally addressed an issue when it has sent a public, 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 before reaching a decision.
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).
The Chair MAY reopen a decision when presented with new information, including:
- additional technical information,
- comments by email from participants who were unable to attend a scheduled meeting,
- comments by email from meeting attendees who chose not to speak out during a meeting (e.g., so they could confer later with colleagues or for cultural reasons).
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):
- an explanation of the issue being voted on;
- the decision to conduct a vote (e.g., a simple majority vote) to resolve the issue;
- the outcome of the vote;
- any Formal Objections.
In order to vote to resolve a substantive issue, an individual MUST be a group participant in Good Standing. Each organization represented in the group MUST have at most one vote, even when the organization is represented by several participants in the group (including Invited Experts). For the purposes of voting:
- A Member or group of related Members is considered a single organization.
- The Team is considered an organization.
Unless the charter states otherwise, Invited Experts MAY vote.
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 or threshold requirements) for making decisions about substantive issues.
Procedures for Advisory Committee votes are described separately.
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.
A W3C Member or Invited Expert MAY resign from a group. The Team will establish administrative procedures for resignation. See section 4.2. of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33] for information about obligations remaining after resignation from certain groups.
The Team is responsible for managing communication within W3C and with the general public (e.g., news services, press releases, managing the Web site and access privileges, and managing calendars). Members SHOULD solicit review by the Team prior to issuing press releases about their work within W3C.
The Team makes every effort to ensure the persistence and availability of the following public information:
- W3C technical reports whose publication has been approved by the Director. Per the Membership Agreement, W3C technical reports (and software) are available free of charge to the general public; (refer to the W3C Document License [PUB18]).
- A mission statement [PUB15] that explains the purpose and mission of W3C, the key benefits for Members, and the organizational structure of W3C.
- Legal documents, including the Membership Agreement [PUB6]) and documentation of any legal commitments W3C has with other entities.
- The Process Document.
- Public results of W3C Activities and Workshops.
To keep the Members abreast of W3C meetings, Workshops, and review deadlines, the Team provides them with a regular (e.g., weekly) news service and maintains a calendar [MEM3] of official W3C events. Members are encouraged to send schedule and event information to the Team for inclusion on this calendar.
There are three principal levels of access to W3C information (on the W3C Web site, in W3C meetings, etc.): public, Member-only, and Team-only.
While much information made available by W3C is public, "Member-only" information is available to authorized parties only, including representatives of Member organizations, Invited Experts, the Advisory Board, the TAG, and the Team. For example, the charter of some Working Groups may specify a Member-only confidentiality level for group proceedings.
"Team-only" information is available to the Team and other authorized parties.
Those authorized to access Member-only and Team-only information:
- MUST treat the information as confidential within W3C,
- MUST use reasonable efforts to maintain the proper level confidentiality, and
- MUST NOT release this information to the general public or press.
The Team MUST provide mechanisms to protect the confidentiality of Member-only information and ensure that authorized parties have proper access to this information. Documents SHOULD clearly indicate whether they require Member-only confidentiality. Individuals uncertain of the confidentiality level of a piece of information SHOULD contact the Team.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY authorize Member-only access to Member representatives and other individuals employed by the Member who are considered appropriate recipients. For instance, it is the responsibility of the Advisory Committee representative and other employees and official representatives of the organization to ensure that Member-only news announcements are distributed for internal use only within their organization. Information about Member mailing lists is available in the New Member Orientation.
As a benefit of membership, W3C provides some Team-only and Member-only channels for certain types of communication. For example, Advisory Committee representatives can send reviews to a Team-only channel. However, for W3C processes with a significant public component, such as the technical report development process, it is also important for information that affects decision-making to be publicly available. The Team MAY need to communicate Team-only information to a Working Group or the public. Similarly, a Working Group whose proceedings are Member-only MUST make public information pertinent to the technical report development process.
This document clearly indicates which information MUST be available to Members or the public, even though that information was initially communicated on Team-only or Member-only channels. Only the Team and parties authorized by the Team change the level of confidentiality of this information. When doing so:
- The Team MUST use a version of the information that was expressly provided by the author for the new confidentiality level. In Calls for Review and other similar messages, the Team SHOULD remind recipients to provide such alternatives.
- The Team MUST NOT attribute the version for the new confidentiality level to the author without the author's consent.
- If the author has not conveyed to the Team a version that is suitable for another confidentiality level, the Team MAY make available a version that reasonably communicates what is required, while respecting the original level of confidentiality, and without attribution to the original author.
This section describes the mechanisms for establishing consensus within the areas of Web development the Consortium chooses to pursue. An Activity organizes the work necessary for the development or evolution of a Web technology.
W3C starts an Activity based on interest from the Members and Team. W3C Members build interest around new work through discussions among Advisory Committee representatives, Chairs, and Team, and through the Submission process. The Team tracks Web developments inside and outside W3C, manages liaisons, and organizes Workshops.
Based on input from the Team and Members about the structure and scope of an Activity, the Team sends an Activity Proposal to the Advisory Committee. This is a proposal to dedicate Team and Member resources to a particular area of Web technology or policy, and when there is consensus about the motivation, scope, and structure of the proposed work, W3C starts a new Activity.
Each Activity has its own structure that generally includes Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups. Within the framework of an Activity, these groups produce technical reports, review the work of other groups, and develop sample code or test suites.
The progress of each Activity is documented in an Activity Statement. Activity Statements describe the goals of the Activity, completed and unfinished deliverables, changing perspectives based on experience, and future plans. At least before each Advisory Committee meeting, the Team SHOULD revise the Activity Statement for each Activity that has not been closed.
The Team MUST notify the Advisory Committee when a proposal for a new or modified Activity is in development. This is intended to raise awareness, even if no formal proposal is yet available. Advisory Committee representatives MAY express their general support on the Advisory Committee discussion list. The Team MAY incorporate discussion points into an Activity Proposal. Refer to additional tips on getting to Recommendation faster [PUB27].
5.2 Advisory Committee Review of an Activity Proposal
The Director MUST solicit Advisory Committee review of every proposal to create, substantively modify, or extend an Activity.
After a Call for Review from the Director, the Advisory Committee reviews and comments on the proposal. The review period MUST be at least four weeks.
The Director announces to the Advisory Committee whether there is consensus within W3C to create or modify the Activity (possibly with changes suggested during the review). For a new Activity, this announcement officially creates the Activity. This announcement MAY include a Call for Participation in any groups created as part of the Activity.
If there was dissent, Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal a decision to create, modify, or extend the Activity. Note: There is no appeal of a decision not to create an Activity; in general, drafting a new Activity Proposal will be simpler than following the appeal process.
Activities are intended to be flexible. W3C expects participants to be able to adapt in the face of new ideas (e.g., Member Submission requests) and increased understanding of goals and context, while remaining true to the intent of the original Activity Proposal. If it becomes necessary to make substantive changes to an Activity (e.g., because significant additional resources are necessary or because the Activity's scope has clearly changed from the original proposal), then the Director MUST solicit Advisory Committee review of a complete Activity Proposal, including rationale for the changes.
When the Director solicits Advisory Committee review of a proposal to extend the duration of an Activity with no other substantive modifications to the composition of the Activity, the proposal MUST indicate the new duration and include rationale for the extension. The Director is NOT REQUIRED to submit a complete Activity Proposal.
5.5 Activity Closure
An Activity Proposal specifies a duration for the Activity. The Director, subject to appeal by Advisory Committee representatives, MAY close an Activity prior to the date specified in the proposal in any of the following circumstances:
- Groups in the Activity fail to produce chartered deliverables.
- Groups in the Activity produce chartered deliverables ahead of schedule.
- There are insufficient resources to maintain the Activity, according to priorities established within W3C.
The Director closes an Activity by announcement to the Advisory Committee.
An Activity Proposal defines the initial scope and structure of an Activity. The proposal MUST include or reference the following information:
- An Activity summary. What is the nature of the Activity (e.g., to track developments, create technical reports, develop code, organize pilot experiments, or for education)? Who or what group wants this (providers or users)?
- Context information. Why is this Activity being proposed now? What is the situation in the world (e.g., with respect to the Web community, market, research, or society)? within the scope of the proposal? Who or what currently exists that is pertinent to this Activity? Is the community mature/growing/developing a niche? What competing technologies exist? What competing organizations exist?
- A description of the Activity's scope. How might a potential Recommendation interact and overlap with existing international standards and Recommendations? What organizations are likely to be affected by potential overlap (see the section on liaisons with other organizations)? What should be changed if the Activity is approved?
- A description of the Activity's initial deployment, including:
- The duration of the Activity.
- What groups will be created as part of this Activity and how those groups will be coordinated. For each group, the proposal MUST include a provisional charter. Groups MAY be scheduled to run concurrently or sequentially (either because of a dependency or an expected overlap in membership and the desirability of working on one subject at a time). These charters MAY be amended based on review comments before the Director issues a Call for Participation.
- The expected timeline of the Activity, including proposed deliverable dates and scheduled Workshops and Symposia.
- If known, the date of the first face-to-face meeting of each proposed group. The date of the first face-to-face meeting of a proposed group MUST NOT be sooner than eight weeks after the date of the Activity Proposal.
- A summary of resources (Member, Team, administrative, technical, and financial) expected to be dedicated to the Activity. The proposal MAY specify the threshold level of effort that Members are expected to pledge in order for the Activity to be accepted.
- Information about known dependencies within W3C or outside of W3C.
- Intellectual property information. What are the intellectual property (including patents and copyright) considerations affecting the success of the Activity? In particular, is there any reason to believe that it will be difficult to meet the Royalty-Free licensing goals of section 2 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]?
- A list of supporters and references. What community is expected to benefit from this Activity? Are members of this community part of W3C now? Are they expected to join the effort?
- 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 as well as additional participation requirements described in the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33].
- 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.
- Coordination Groups. A Coordination Group manages dependencies and facilitates communication with other groups, within or outside of W3C.
Neither Interest Groups nor Coordination Groups publish Recommendation Track technical reports; see information about maturity levels for Interest Groups 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 Chair is a Member representative, a Team representative, or an Invited Expert (invited by the Director). The requirements of this document that apply to those types of participants apply to Chairs as well. 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.
Each group MUST have an archived mailing list for formal group communication (e.g., for meeting announcements and minutes, documentation of decisions, and Formal 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.
There are four types of individual participants in an Interest Group: the same three 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.
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. For the purposes of Good Standing, the regular representative and the substitute are considered the same participant.
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).
18.104.22.168 Member Representative in a Working Group
An individual is a Member representative in a Working Group if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
- the Advisory Committee representative of the Member in question has designated the individual as a Working Group participant, and
- the individual qualifies for Member representation.
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 (including the participation requirements of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]):
- The name of the W3C Member the individual represents and whether the individual is an employee of that Member organization;
- A statement that the individual accepts the participation terms set forth in the charter (with an indication of charter date or version);
- A statement that the Member will provide the necessary financial support for participation (e.g., for travel, telephone calls, and conferences).
A Member participates in a Working Group from the moment the first Member representative joins the group until either of the following occurs:
- the group closes, or
- the Member resigns from the Working Group; this is done through the Member's Advisory Committee representative.
22.214.171.124 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:
- the Advisory Committee representative of the Member in question has designated the individual as an Interest Group participant, and
- the individual qualifies for Member representation.
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.
Member participation in an Interest Group ceases under the same conditions as for a Working Group.
126.96.36.199 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:
- the Chair has designated the individual as a group participant,
- the Team Contact has agreed with the Chair's choice, and
- the individual has provided the information required of an Invited Expert to the Chair and Team Contact.
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:
- identify the organization, if any, the individual represents as a participant in this group,
- agree to the terms of the invited expert and collaborators agreement [PUB17],
- accept the participation terms set forth in the charter (including the participation requirements of section 3 (especially 3.4) and section 6 (especially 6.10) of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]). Indicate a specific charter date or version,
- disclose whether the individual is an employee of a W3C Member; see the conflict of interest policy,
- provide a statement of who will provide the necessary financial support for the individual's participation (e.g., for travel, telephone calls, and conferences), and
- if the individual's employer (including a self-employed individual) or the organization the individual represents is not a W3C Member, indicate whether that organization intends to join W3C. If the organization does not intend to join W3C, indicate reasons the individual is aware of for this choice.
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.
An Invited Expert participates in a Working Group from the moment the individual joins the group until any of the following occurs:
- the group closes, or
- the Chair or Director withdraws the invitation to participate, or
- the individual resigns.
188.8.131.52 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.
An individual is a Team representative in a Working Group when so designated by W3C management.
An Team representative participates in a Working Group from the moment the individual joins the group until any of the following occurs:
- the group closes, or
- W3C management changes Team representation by sending email to the Chair, cc'ing the group mailing list.
The Team participates in a Working Group from the moment the Director announces the creation of the group until the group closes.
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.
184.108.40.206 Good Standing in a Working Group
Participation by an individual in a Working Group on an ongoing basis implies a serious commitment to the charter, including all of the following:
- attending most meetings of the Working Group.
- providing deliverables or drafts of deliverables in a timely fashion.
- being familiar with the relevant documents of the Working Group, including minutes of past meetings.
- following discussions on relevant mailing list(s).
At the first Working Group meeting that follows any Call for Participation, all participants are in Good Standing. If a Member or Invited Expert joins the Working Group after the end of that meeting, the Member Representative or Invited Expert does not attain Good Standing until the start of the second consecutive meeting that individual attends.
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:
- the individual has missed more than one of the last three distributed meetings.
- the individual has missed more than one of the last three face-to-face meetings.
- the individual has not provided deliverables in a timely fashion twice in sequence.
- the individual has not followed the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information to the rest of the group.
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.
When a Member representative permanently replaces another (i.e., is not simply a temporary substitute), the new participant inherits the standing of the departing participant.
Note: In general, the time commitment for participating in an Interest Group is less than that for a Working Group; see the section on participation provisions in an Interest Group charter.
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.
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.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal creation or substantive modification of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.
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.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal the extension of a Working Group or Interest Group charter.
A Working Group or Interest Group charter MUST include all of the following information.
- The group's mission (e.g., develop a technology or process, review the work of other groups);
- The scope of the group's work and criteria for success;
- The duration of the group (typically from six months to two years);
- The nature of any deliverables (technical reports, reviews of the deliverables of other groups, or software), expected milestones, and the process for the group participants to approve the release of these deliverables (including public intermediate results). A charter is NOT REQUIRED to include the schedule for a review of another group's deliverables;
- Any dependencies by groups within or outside of W3C on the deliverables of this group. For any dependencies, the charter MUST specify the mechanisms for communication about the deliverables;
- Any dependencies of this group on other groups within or outside of W3C. For example, one group's charter might specify that another group is expected to review a technical report before it can become a Recommendation. For any dependencies, the charter MUST specify when required deliverables are expected from the other groups. The charter SHOULD set expectations about how coordination with those groups will take place; see the section on liaisons with other organizations. Finally, the charter SHOULD specify expected conformance to the deliverables of the other groups;
- The level of confidentiality of the group's proceedings and deliverables;
- Meeting mechanisms and expected frequency;
- Communication mechanisms to be employed within the group, between the group and the rest of W3C, and with the general public;
- An estimate of the expected time commitment from participants;
- The expected time commitment and level of involvement by the Team (e.g., to track developments, write and edit technical reports, develop code, or organize pilot experiments).
An Interest Group charter MAY include provisions regarding participation, including specifying 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).
It is important that a Working Group keep the Membership and public informed of its activity and progress. To this end, each Working Group SHOULD publish in the W3C technical reports index a new draft of each active technical report at least once every three months. An active technical report is a Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation, Proposed Recommendation, or Proposed Edited Recommendation. Each Working Group MUST publish a new draft of at least one of its active technical reports on the W3C technical reports index [PUB11] at least once every three months.
Public progress reports are also important when a Working Group does not update a technical report within three months (for example, when the delay is due to a challenging technical issue) or when a Working Group has no active technical reports (for example, because it is developing a test suite).
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:
- To promote public accountability;
- To encourage Working Groups to keep moving forward, and to incorporate their decisions into readable public documents. People cannot be expected to read several months of a group's mailing list archive to understand where the group stands;
- To notify interested parties of updated work in familiar a place such as the W3C home page and index of technical reports.
As an example, suppose a Working Group has one technical report as a deliverable, which it publishes as a Proposed Recommendation. Per the heartbeat requirement, the Working Group is required to publish a new draft of the Proposed Recommendation at least once every three months, even if it is only to revise the status of the Proposed Recommendation document (e.g., to provide an update on the status of the decision to advance). The heartbeat requirement stops when the document becomes a Recommendation (or a Working Group Note).
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:
- There are insufficient resources to produce chartered deliverables or to maintain the group, according to priorities established within W3C.
- The group produces chartered deliverables ahead of schedule.
- The Activity to which the group belongs terminates.
The Director closes a Working Group or Interest Group by announcement to the Advisory Committee.
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.
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].
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.
A Coordination Group charter MUST include all of the following information:
- The group's mission;
- The scope of the group's work, including the names of coordinated groups and contact information for those groups;
- Any dependencies by groups within or outside of W3C on this group;
- Any dependencies of this group on other groups within or outside of W3C; see the section on liaisons with other organizations.
- The level of confidentiality of the group's proceedings;
- Meeting mechanisms and expected frequency;
- Communication mechanisms to be employed within the group, between the group and the rest of W3C, and with the general public;
- An estimate of the expected time commitment from participants;
- The expected level of involvement by the Team.
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.
7 W3C Technical Report Development Process
The W3C technical report development process is the set of steps and requirements followed by W3C Working Groups to standardize Web technology. The W3C technical report development process is designed to
- support multiple specification development methodologies
- maximize consensus about the content of stable technical reports
- ensure high technical and editorial quality
- promote consistency among specifications
- facilitate royalty-free, interoperable implementations of Web Standards, and
- earn endorsement by W3C and the broader community.
7.1 W3C Technical Reports
Please note that publishing as used in this document refers to producing a version which is listed as a W3C Technical Report on its Technical Reports page http://www.w3.org/TR.
This chapter describes the formal requirements for publishing and maintaining a W3C Recommendation or Note.
Typically a series of Working Drafts are published, each of which refines a document under development to complete the scope of work envisioned by a Working Group's charter. For a technical specification, once review suggests the Working Group has met their requirements satisfactorily for a new standard, there is a Candidate Recommendation phase. This allows the entire W3C membership to provide feedback on whether the specification should become a W3C Recommendation, while the Working Group formally collects implementation experience to demonstrate that the specification works in practice. The next phase is a Proposed Recommendation, to finalize the review of W3C Members. If the Director determines that W3C member review supports a specification becoming a standard, W3C publishes it as a Recommendation.
Groups may also publish documents as W3C Notes, typically either to document information other than technical specifications, such as use cases motivating a specification and best practices for its use, or to clarify the status of work that is abandoned.
Some W3C Notes are developed through successive Working Drafts, with an expectation that they will become Notes, while others are simply published. There are few formal requirements to publish a document as a W3C Note, and they have no standing as a recommendation of W3C but are simply documents preserved for historical reference.
Individual Working Groups and Interest Groups may adopt additional processes for developing publications, so long as they do not conflict with the requirements in this chapter.
7.1.1 Recommendations and Notes
W3C follows these steps when advancing a technical report to Recommendation.
- Publication of the First Public Working Draft,
- Publication of zero or more revised Public Working Drafts.
- Publication of a Candidate Recommendation.
- Publication of a Proposed Recommendation.
- Publication as a W3C Recommendation.
- Possibly, Publication as an Edited Recommendation
W3C may end work on a technical report at any time.
The Director may decline a request to advance in maturity level, requiring a Working Group to conduct further work, and may require the specification to return to a lower maturity level. The Director must inform the Advisory Committee and Working Group Chairs when a Working Group's request for a specification to advance in maturity level is declined and the specification is returned to a Working Group for further work.
7.1.2 Maturity Levels
- Working Draft (WD)
- A Working Draft is a document that W3C has published for review by the community, including W3C Members, the public, and other technical organizations. Some, but not all, Working Drafts are meant to advance to Recommendation; see the document status section of a Working Draft for the group's expectations. Any Working Draft not, or no longer, intended to advance to Recommendation should be published as a Working Group Note. Working Drafts do not necessarily represent a consensus of the Working Group, and do not imply any endorsement by W3C or its members beyond agreement to work on a general area of technology.
- Candidate Recommendation (CR)
- A Candidate Recommendation is a document that
satisfies the Working Group's technical requirements, and has already
received wide review. W3C publishes a Candidate Recommendation to
- signal to the wider community that a final review should be done
- gather implementation experience
- begin formal review by the Advisory Committee, who may recommend that the document be published as a W3C Recommendation, returned to the Working Group for further work, or abandoned.
- Provide an exclusion opportunity as per the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]. A Candidate Recommendation under this process corresponds to the "Last Call Working Draft" discussed in the Patent Policy.
- Note: Candidate Recommendations are expected to be acceptable as Recommendations. Announcement of a different next step should include the reasons why the change in expectations comes at so late a stage.
- Proposed Recommendation
- A Proposed Recommendation is a document that has been accepted by the W3C Director as of sufficient quality to become a W3C Recommendation. This phase establishes a deadline for the Advisory Committee review which begins with Candidate Recommendation. Substantive changes must not be made to a Proposed Recommendation except by publishing a new Working Draft or Candidate Recommendation.
- W3C Recommendation (REC)
- A W3C Recommendation is a specification or set of guidelines or requirements that, after extensive consensus-building, has received the endorsement of W3C Members and the Director. W3C recommends the wide deployment of its Recommendations as standards for the Web. The W3C Royalty-Free IPR licenses granted under the Patent Policy apply to W3C Recommendations.
- Working Group Note, Interest Group Note (NOTE)
- A Working Group Note or Interest Group Note is published by a chartered Working Group or Interest Group to provide a stable reference for a useful document that is not intended to be a formal standard, or to document work that was abandoned without producing a Recommendation.
- Rescinded Recommendation
- A Rescinded Recommendation is an entire Recommendation that W3C no longer endorses. See also clause 10 of the licensing requirements for W3C Recommendations in section 5 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33].
Working Groups and Interest Groups may make available "Editor's drafts". Editor's drafts have no official standing whatsoever, and do not necessarily imply consensus of a Working Group or Interest Group, nor are their contents endorsed in any way by W3C.
7.2 General requirements and definitions
Please note that publishing as used in this document refers to producing a version which is listed as a W3C Technical Report on its Technical Reports page http://www.w3.org/TR.
7.2.1 General requirements for Technical Reports
Every document published as part of the technical report development process must be a public document. The index of W3C technical reports [PUB11] is available at the W3C Web site. W3C strives to make archival documents indefinitely available at their original address in their original form.
Every document published as part of the technical report development process must clearly indicate its maturity level, and must include information about the status of the document. This status information
- must be unique each time a specification is published,
- must state which Working Group developed the specification,
- must state how to send comments or file bugs, and where these are recorded,
- must include expectations about next steps,
- should explain how the technology relates to existing international standards and related work inside or outside W3C, and
- should explain or link to an explanation of significant changes from the previous version.
Every Technical Report published as part of the Technical Report development process is edited by one or more editors appointed by a Group Chair. It is the responsibility of these editors to ensure that the decisions of the Group are correctly reflected in subsequent drafts of the technical report. An editor must be a participant, as a Member representative, Team representative, or Invited Expert in the Group responsible for the document(s) they are editing.
The Team is not required to publish a Technical Report that does not conform to the Team's Publication Rules (e.g., for naming, status information, style, and copyright requirements). These rules are subject to change by the Team from time to time. The Team must inform group Chairs and the Advisory Committee of any changes to these rules.
The primary language for W3C Technical Reports is English. W3C encourages the translation of its Technical Reports. Information about translations of W3C technical reports [PUB18] is available at the W3C Web site.
7.2.2 Advancement on the Recommendation Track
For all requests to advance a specification to a new maturity level other than Note the Working Group:
- must record the group's decision to request advancement.
- must obtain Director approval.
- must provide public documentation of all substantive changes to the technical report since the previous publication.
- must formally address all issues raised about the document since the previous maturity level.
- must provide public documentation of any Formal Objections.
- should provide public documentation of changes that are not substantive.
- should report which, if any, of the Working Group's requirements for this document have changed since the previous step.
- should report any changes in dependencies with other groups.
- should provide information about implementations known to the Working Group.
For a First Public Working Draft there is no "previous maturity level", so many requirements do not apply, and approval is normally fairly automatic. For later stages, especially transition to Candidate or Proposed Recommendation, there is generally a formal review meeting to ensure the requirements have been met before Director's approval is given.
7.2.3 Reviews and Review Responsibilities
A document is available for review from the moment it is first published. Working Groups should formally address any substantive review comment about a technical report in a timely manner.Reviewers should send substantive technical reviews as early as possible. Working Groups are often reluctant to make substantive changes to a mature document, particularly if this would cause significant compatibility problems due to existing implementation. Working Groups should record substantive or interesting proposals raised by reviews but not incorporated into a current specification.
220.127.116.11 Wide Review
The requirements for wide review are not precisely defined by the W3C Process. The objective is to ensure that the entire set of stakeholders of the Web community, including the general public, have had adequate notice of the progress of the Working Group and thereby an opportunity to comment on the specification. Before approving transitions, the Director will consider who has been explicitly offered a reasonable opportunity to review the document, who has provided comments, the record of requests to and responses from reviewers, especially groups identified as dependencies in the charter, and seek evidence of clear communication to the general public about appropriate times and which content to review.
For example, inviting review of new or significantly revised sections published in Working Drafts, and tracking those comments and the Working Group's responses, is generally a good practice which would often be considered positive evidence of wide review. Working Groups should announce to other W3C Working Groups as well as the general public, especially those affected by this specification, a proposal to enter Candidate Recommendation (for example in approximately four weeks). By contrast a generic statement in a document requesting review at any time is likely not to be considered as sufficient evidence that the group has solicited wide review.
A Working Group could present evidence that wide review has been received, irrespective of solicitation. But it is important to note that receiving many detailed reviews is not necessarily the same as wide review, since they may only represent comment from a small segment of the relevant stakeholder community.
7.2.4 Implementation Experience
Implementation experience is required to show that a specification is sufficiently clear, complete, and relevant to market needs, to ensure that independent interoperable implementations of each feature of the specification will be realized. While no exhaustive list of requirements is provided here, when assessing that there is adequate implementation experience the Director will consider (though not be limited to):
- is each feature of the current specification implemented, and how is this demonstrated?
- are there independent interoperable implementations of the current specification?
- are there implementations created by people other than the authors of the specification?
- are implementations publicly deployed?
- is there implementation experience at all levels of the specification's ecosystem (authoring, consuming, publishing…)?
- are there reports of difficulties or problems with implementation?
Planning and accomplishing a demonstration of (interoperable) implementations can be very time consuming. Groups are often able to work more effectively if they plan how they will demonstrate interoperable implementations early in the development process; for example, they may wish to develop tests in concert with implementation efforts.
7.2.5 Classes of Changes
This document distinguishes the following 4 classes of changes to a specification. The first two classes of change are considered editorial changes, the latter two substantive changes.
- 1. No changes to text content
- These changes include fixing broken links, style sheets or invalid markup.
- 2. Corrections that do not affect conformance
- Editorial changes or clarifications that do not change the technical content of the specification.
- 3. Corrections that do not add new features
- These changes may affect conformance to
the specification. A change that affects conformance is one that:
- makes conforming data, processors, or other conforming agents become non-conforming according to the new version, or
- makes non-conforming data, processors, or other agents become conforming, or
- clears up an ambiguity or under-specified part of the specification in such a way that data, a processor, or an agent whose conformance was once unclear becomes clearly either conforming or non-conforming.
- 4. New features
- Changes that add a new functionality, element, etc.
7.3 Working Draft
A Public Working Draft is published on the W3C's Technical Reports page [TR] for review, and for simple historical reference. For all Public Working Drafts a Working Group
- should document outstanding issues, and parts of the document on which the Working Group does not have consensus, and
- may request publication of a Working Draft even if its content is considered unstable and does not meet all Working Group requirements.
7.3.1 First Public Working Draft
To publish the First Public Working Draft of a document, a Working Group must meet the applicable general requirements for advancement.
The Director must announce the publication of a First Public Working Draft publication to other W3C groups and to the public.
7.3.2 Revising Public Working Drafts
A Working Group should publish a Working Draft to the W3C Technical Reports page when there have been significant changes to the previous published document that would benefit from review beyond the Working Group.
If 6 months elapse without significant changes to a specification a Working Group should publish a revised Working Draft, whose status section should indicate reasons for the lack of change.
To publish a revision of a Working draft, a Working Group
- must record the group's decision to request publication. Consensus is not required, as this is a procedural step,
- must provide public documentation of substantive changes to the technical report since the previous Working Draft,
- should provide public documentation of significant editorial changes to the technical report since the previous step,
- should report which, if any, of the Working Group's requirements for this document have changed since the previous step,
- should report any changes in dependencies with other groups,
Possible next steps for any Working Draft:
7.3.3 Stopping Work on a specification
Work on a technical report may cease at any time. Work should cease if W3C or a Working Group determines that it cannot productively carry the work any further. If the Director closes a Working Group W3C must publish any unfinished specifications on the Recommendation track as Working Group Notes. If a Working group decides, or the Director requires, the Working Group to discontinue work on a technical report before completion, the Working Group should publish the document as a Working Group Note.
To publish a Candidate recommendation, in addition to meeting the general requirements for advancement a Working Group:
- must show that the specification has met all Working Group requirements, or explain why the requirements have changed or been deferred,
- must document changes to dependencies during the development of the specification,
- must document how adequate implementation experience will be demonstrated,
- must specify the deadline for comments, which must be at least four weeks after publication, and should be longer for complex documents,
- must show that the specification has received wide review, and
- may identify features in the document as "at risk". These features may be removed before advancement to Proposed Recommendation without a requirement to publish a new Candidate Recommendation.
The Director must announce the publication of a Candidate Recommendation to other W3C groups and to the public, and must begin an Advisory Committee Review on the question of whether W3C should publish the specification as a W3C Recommendation.
A Candidate Recommendation corresponds to a "Last Call Working Draft" as used in the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]. Publishing a Candidate Recommendation triggers a Call for Exclusions, per section 4 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33].
Possible next steps:
- Return to Working Draft
- A revised Candidate Recommendation
- Proposed Recommendation (The expected next step)
- Working Group Note
7.4.1 Revising a Candidate Recommendation
If there are any substantive changes made to a Candidate Recommendation other than to remove features explicitly identified as "at risk", the Working Group must obtain the Director's approval to publish a revision of a Candidate Recommendation. This is because substantive changes will generally require a new Exclusion Opportunity per section 4 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33]. Note that approval is expected to be fairly simple compared to getting approval for a transition from Working Draft to Candidate Recommendation.
In addition the Working Group:
- must show that the revised specification meets all Working Group requirements, or explain why the requirements have changed or been deferred,
- must specify the deadline for further comments, which must be at least four weeks after publication, and should be longer for complex documents,
- must document the changes since the previous Candidate Recommendation,
- must show that the proposed changes have received wide review, and
- may identify features in the document as "at risk". These features may be removed before advancement to Proposed Recommendation without a requirement to publish a new Candidate Recommendation.
The Director must announce the publication of a revised Candidate Recommendation to other W3C groups and the Public.
7.5 Proposed Recommendation
In addition to meeting the general requirements for advancement,
- The status information must specify the deadline for Advisory Committee review, which must be at least 28 days after the publication of the Proposed Recommendation and should be at least 10 days after the end of the last Exclusion Opportunity per section 4 of the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33].
A Working Group:
- must show adequate implementation experience except where an exception is approved by the Director,
- must show that the document has received wide review,
- must show that all issues raised during the Candidate Recommendation review period other than by Advisory Committee representatives acting in their formal AC representative role have been formally addressed,
- must identify any substantive issues raised since the close of the Candidate Recommendation review period by parties other than Advisory Committee representatives acting in their formal AC representative role,
- may have removed features identified in the Candidate Recommendation document as "at risk" without republishing the specification as a Candidate Recommendation.
- must announce the publication of a Proposed Recommendation to the Advisory Committee, and
- may approve a Proposed Recommendation with minimal implementation experience where there is a compelling reason to do so. In such a case, the Director should explain the reasons for that decision.
Since a W3C Recommendation must not include any substantive changes from the Proposed Recommendation it is based on, to make any substantive change to a Proposed Recommendation the Working Group must return the specification to Candidate Recommendation or Working Draft.
Possible Next Steps:
- Return to Working Draft
- Return to Candidate Recommendation
- Recommendation status (The expected next step)
- Working Group Note
7.6 W3C Recommendation
The decision to advance a document to Recommendation is a W3C Decision.
In addition to meeting the general requirements for advancement,
- A Recommendation must identify where errata are tracked, and
- A Recommendation must not include any substantive changes from the Proposed Recommendation on which it is based.
- If there was any dissent in Advisory Committee reviews, the Director must publish the substantive content of the dissent to W3C and the general public, and must formally address the comment at least 14 days before publication as a W3C Recommendation. In this case the Advisory Committee may appeal the decision,
- The Director must announce the publication of a W3C Recommendation to Advisory Committee, other W3C groups and to the public.
Possible next steps:
A W3C Recommendation normally retains its status indefinitely. However it
7.7 Modifying a W3C Recommendation
This section details the management of errors in, and the process for making changes to a Recommendation. Please see also the Requirements for modification of W3C Technical Reports [PUB35].
7.7.1 Errata Management
Tracking errors is an important part of a Working Group's ongoing care of a Recommendation; for this reason, the scope of a Working Group charter generally allows time for work after publication of a Recommendation. In this Process Document, the term "erratum" (plural "errata") refers to any class of mistake, from mere editorial to a serious error that may affect the conformance with the Recommendation by software or content (e.g., content validity).
Working Groups must track errata on an "errata page." An errata page is a list of enumerated errors, possibly accompanied by corrections. Each Recommendation links to an errata page; see the Team's Publication Rules.
A correction is first "proposed" by the Working Group. A correction becomes part of the Recommendation by the process for Revising a Recommendation described in the next section.
A Working Group should keep their errata pages up-to-date, as errors are reported by readers and implementers. A Working Group must report errata page changes to interested parties, notably when corrections are proposed or incorporated into an Edited Recommendation, according to the Team's requirements.
7.7.2 Revising a Recommendation
A Working group may request republication of a Recommendation, or W3C may republish a Recommendation, to make corrections that do not result in any changes to the text of the specification.
Editorial changes to a Recommendation require no technical review of the proposed changes. A Working Group may request publication of a Proposed Recommendation or W3C may publish a Proposed Recommendation to make this class of change without passing through earlier maturity levels. Such publications are may be called a Proposed Edited Recommendation.
To make corrections to a Recommendation that produce substantive changes but do not add new features, a Working Group may request publication of a Candidate Recommendation, without passing through earlier maturity levels.
In the latter two cases, the resulting Recommendation may be called an Edited Recommendation.
When requesting the publication of an edited Recommendation as described in this section, in addition to meeting the requirements for the relevant maturity level, a Working Group
- must show that the changes to the document have received wide review, and
- should address all recorded errata.
For changes which introduces a new feature or features, W3C must follow the full process of advancing a technical report to Recommendation beginning with a new First Public Working Draft.
7.8 Publishing a Working Group or Interest Group Note
Working Groups and Interest Groups publish material that is not a formal specification as Notes. This includes supporting documentation for a specification such as explanations of design principles or use cases and requirements, non-normative guides to good practices, as well as specifications where work has been stopped and there is no longer consensus for making them a new standard.
In order to publish a Note, a Working Group or Interest Group:
- may publish a Note with or without its prior publication as a Working Draft.
- must record the group's decision to request publication as a Note, and
- should publish documentation of significant changes to the technical report since any previous publication.
Possible next steps:
- End state: A technical report may remain a Working Group Note indefinitely
- A Working Group may resume work on technical report within the scope of its charter at any time, at the maturity level the specification had before publication as a Note
7.9 Rescinding a W3C Recommendation
W3C may rescind a Recommendation, for example if the Recommendation contains many errors that conflict with a later version or if W3C discovers burdensome patent claims that affect implementers and cannot be resolved; see the W3C Patent Policy [PUB33] and in particular section 5 (bullet 10) and section 7.5. A Working Group may request the Director to rescind a Recommendation which was a deliverable, or the Director may directly propose to rescind a Recommendation.
W3C only rescinds entire specifications. To rescind some part of a Recommendation, W3C follows the process for modifying a Recommendation.
Once W3C has published a Rescinded Recommendation, future W3C technical reports must not include normative references to that technical report.
To propose rescinding a W3C Recommendation, a Working Group or the Director
- must publish rationale for rescinding the Recommendation.
- should document known implementation.
In addition a Working Group requesting to rescind a Recommendation
- must show that the request to rescind has received wide review
In addition the Director, if proposing to rescind a Recommendation
- must show that the request to rescind is based on public comment
The Director must announce the proposal to rescind a W3C Recommendation to other W3C groups, the public, and the Advisory Committee. The announcement must:
- indicate that this is a Proposal to Rescind a Recommendation
- specify the deadline for review comments, which must be at least four weeks after announcing the proposal to rescind.
- identify known dependencies and solicit review from all dependent Working Groups;
- solicit public review.
If there was any dissent in Advisory Committee reviews, the Director must publish the substantive content of the dissent to W3C and the public, and must formally address the comment at least 14 days before publication as a Rescinded Recommendation. In this case the Advisory Committee may appeal the decision.
A Rescinded Recommendation must be published with up to date status. The updated version may remove the rescinded content (i.e. the main body of the document).
Note: the original Recommendation document will continue to be available at its version-specific URL.
Refer to "How to Organize a Recommendation Track Transition" in the Member guide for practical information about preparing for the reviews and announcements of the various steps, and tips on getting to Recommendation faster [PUB27].
This section describes how the Advisory Committee reviews proposals from the Director and how Advisory Committee representatives appeal W3C decisions and decisions by the Director. A W3C decision is one where the Director (or the Director's delegate) has exercised the role of assessing consensus after an Advisory Committee review of an Activity Proposal, after a Call for Review of a Proposed Recommendation, after a Call for Review of a Proposed Recommendation, after a Proposal to Rescind a W3C Recommendation, and after a Proposed Process Document review.
The Advisory Committee reviews:
- proposals for new, modified, and extended Activities,
- new and modified Working and Interest Groups,
- Proposed Recommendations, Proposed Edited Recommendations, Proposal to Rescind a Recommendation, and
- Proposed changes to the W3C process.
8.1.1 Start of a Review Period
Each Advisory Committee review period begins with a Call for Review from the Team to the Advisory Committee. The review form describes the proposal, raises attention to deadlines, estimates when the decision will be available, and includes other practical information. Each Member organization MAY send one review, which MUST be returned by its Advisory Committee representative.
The Team MUST provide two channels for Advisory Committee review comments:
- an archived Team-only channel; this is the default channel for reviews.
- an archived Member-only channel.
Reviewers MAY send information to either or both channels. They MAY also share their reviews with other Members on the Advisory Committee discussion list.
A Member organization MAY modify its review during a review period (e.g., in light of comments from other Members).
8.1.2 After the Review Period
After the review period, the Director MUST announce to the Advisory Committee the level of support for the proposal (consensus or dissent). The Director MUST also indicate whether there were any Formal Objections, with attention to changing confidentiality level. This W3C decision is generally one of the following:
- The proposal is approved, possibly with minor changes integrated.
- The proposal is approved, possibly with substantive changes integrated. In this case the Director's announcement MUST include rationale for the decision to advance the document despite the proposal for a substantive change.
- The proposal is returned for additional work, with a request to the initiator to formally address certain issues.
- The proposal is rejected.
This document does not specify time intervals between the end of an Advisory Committee review period and the W3C decision. This is to ensure that the Members and Team have sufficient time to consider comments gathered during the review. The Advisory Committee SHOULD NOT expect an announcement sooner than two weeks after the end of a Proposed Recommendation review period. If, after three weeks, the Director has not announced the outcome, the Director SHOULD provide the Advisory Committee with an update.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal certain decisions, though appeals are only expected to occur in extraordinary circumstances.
When Advisory Committee review immediately precedes a decision, Advisory Committee representatives MAY only appeal when there is dissent. These decisions are:
- Publication of a Recommendation or Publication of a Rescinded Recommendation,
- Activity creation, modification, or extension,
- Working or Interest Group creation or extension,
- Changes to the W3C process.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY always appeal the following decisions:
- Activity closure,
- Working or Interest Group extension or closure,
- Call for Implementations, Call for Review of a Proposed Recommendation, Call for Review of an Edited Recommendation, or Proposal to Rescind a Recommendation
- the Director's intention to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with another organization.
In all cases, an appeal MUST be initiated within three weeks of the decision.
An Advisory Committee representative initiates an appeal by sending a request to the Team (explained in detail in the New Member Orientation). The Team MUST announce the appeal process to the Advisory Committee and provide an address for comments from Advisory Committee representatives. The archive of these comments MUST be Member-visible. If, within one week of the Team's announcement, 5% or more of the Advisory Committee support the appeal request, the Team MUST organize an appeal vote asking the Advisory Committee to approve or reject the decision.
The Advisory Committee votes in elections for seats on the TAG or Advisory Board, and in the event of a formal appeal of a W3C decision. Whenever the Advisory Committee votes, each Member or group of related Members has one vote. In the case of Advisory Board and TAG elections, "one vote" means "one vote per available seat".
The goal of a Workshop is usually either to convene experts and other interested parties for an exchange of ideas about a technology or policy, or to address the pressing concerns of W3C Members. Organizers of the first type of Workshop MAY solicit position papers for the Workshop program and MAY use those papers to choose attendees and/or presenters.
The goal of a Symposium is usually to educate interested parties about a particular subject.
The Call for Participation in a Workshop or Symposium MAY indicate participation requirements or limits, and expected deliverables (e.g., reports and minutes). Organization of an event does not guarantee further investment by W3C in a particular topic, but MAY lead to proposals for new Activities or groups.
Workshops and Symposia generally last one to three days. If a Workshop is being organized to address the pressing concerns of Members, the Team MUST issue the Call for Participation no later than six weeks prior to the Workshop's scheduled start date. For other Workshops and Symposia, the Team MUST issue a Call for Participation no later than eight weeks prior to the meeting's scheduled start date. This helps ensure that speakers and authors have adequate time to prepare position papers and talks.
Note: In general, W3C does not organize conferences. Currently, W3C presents its work to the public at the annual World Wide Web Conference, which is coordinated by the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2).
W3C uses the term "liaison" to refer to coordination of activities with a variety of organizations, through a number of mechanisms ranging from very informal (e.g., an individual from another organization participates in a W3C Working Group, or just follows its work) to mutual membership, to even more formal agreements. Liaisons are not meant to substitute for W3C membership.
All liaisons MUST be coordinated by the Team due to requirements for public communication; patent, copyright, and other IPR policies; confidentiality agreements; and mutual membership agreements.
The W3C Director MAY negotiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with another organization. Before signing the MoU, the Team MUST inform the Advisory Committee of the intent to sign and make the MoU available for Advisory Committee review; the Advisory Committee MAY appeal. Once approved, a Memorandum of Understanding SHOULD be made public.
The Member Submission process allows Members to propose technology or other ideas for consideration by the Team. After review, the Team MAY publish the material at the W3C Web site. The formal process affords Members a record of their contribution and gives them a mechanism for disclosing the details of the transaction with the Team (including IPR claims). The Team also publishes review comments on the Submitted materials for W3C Members, the public, and the media.
A Member Submission consists of:
- One or more documents developed outside of the W3C process, and
- Information about the documents, provided by the Submitter.
One or more Members (called the "Submitter(s)") MAY participate in a Member Submission. Only W3C Members MAY be listed as Submitter(s).
The Submission process consists of the following steps:
- One of the Submitter(s) sends a request to the Team to acknowledge the Submission request. The Team and Submitter(s) communicate to ensure that the Member Submission is complete.
- After Team review, the Director MUST either acknowledge or reject the Submission request.
Note: To avoid confusion about the Member Submission process, please note that:
- Documents in a Member Submission are developed outside of W3C. These documents are not part of the technical report development process (and therefore are not included in the index of W3C technical reports). Members wishing to have documents developed outside of W3C published by W3C MUST follow the Member Submission process.
- The Submission process is not a means by which Members ask for "ratification" of these documents as W3C Recommendations.
- There is no requirement or guarantee that technology which is part of an acknowledged Submission request will receive further consideration by W3C (e.g., by a W3C Working Group).
Publication of a Member Submission by W3C does not imply endorsement by W3C, including the W3C Team or Members. The acknowledgment of a Submission request does not imply that any action will be taken by W3C. It merely records publicly that the Submission request has been made by the Submitter. A Member Submission published by W3C MUST NOT be referred to as "work in progress" of the W3C.
When more than one Member jointly participates in a Submission request, only one Member formally sends in the request. That Member MUST copy each of the Advisory Committee representatives of the other participating Members, and each of those Advisory Committee representatives MUST confirm (by email to the Team) their participation in the Submission request.
At any time prior to acknowledgment, any Submitter MAY withdraw support for a Submission request (described in "How to send a Submission request"). A Submission request is "withdrawn" when no Submitter(s) support it. The Team MUST NOT make statements about withdrawn Submission requests.
Prior to acknowledgment, the Submitter(s) MUST NOT, under any circumstances, refer to a document as "submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium" or "under consideration by W3C" or any similar phrase either in public or Member communication. The Submitter(s) MUST NOT imply in public or Member communication that W3C is working (with the Submitter(s)) on the material in the Member Submission. The Submitter(s) MAY publish the documents in the Member Submission prior to acknowledgment (without reference to the Submission request).
After acknowledgment, the Submitter(s) MUST NOT, under any circumstances, imply W3C investment in the Member Submission until, and unless, the material has been adopted as part of a W3C Activity.
11.1.1 Scope of Member Submissions
When a technology overlaps in scope with the work of a chartered Working Group, Members SHOULD participate in the Working Group and contribute the technology to the group's process rather than seek publication through the Member Submission process. The Working Group MAY incorporate the contributed technology into its deliverables. If the Working Group does not incorporate the technology, it SHOULD NOT publish the contributed documents as Working Group Notes since Working Group Notes represent group output, not input to the group.
On the other hand, while W3C is in the early stages of developing an Activity Proposal or charter, Members SHOULD use the Submission process to build consensus around concrete proposals for new work.
The Submitter(s) and any other authors of the submitted material MUST agree that, if the request is acknowledged, the documents in the Member Submission will be subject to the W3C Document License [PUB18] and will include a reference to it. The Submitter(s) MAY hold the copyright for the documents in a Member Submission.
The Submitter(s) MUST include the following information:
- The list of all submitting Members.
- Position statements from all submitting Members (gathered by the Submitter). All position statements must appear in a separate document.
- Complete electronic copies of any documents submitted for consideration (e.g., a technical specification, a position paper, etc.) If the Submission request is acknowledged, these documents will be published by W3C and therefore must satisfy the Communication Team's Publication Rules [PUB31]. Submitters may hold the copyright for the material contained in these documents, but when published by W3C, these documents MUST be subject to the provisions of the W3C Document License [PUB18].
The request MUST also answer the following questions.
- What proprietary technology is required to implement the areas addressed by the request, and what terms are associated with its use? Again, many answers are possible, but the specific answer will affect the Team's decision.
- What resources, if any, does the Submitter intend to make available if the W3C acknowledges the Submission request and takes action on it?
- What action would the Submitter like W3C to take if the Submission request is acknowledged?
- What mechanisms are there to make changes to the specification being submitted? This includes, but is not limited to, stating where change control will reside if the request is acknowledged.
Although they are not technical reports, the documents in a Member Submission MUST fulfill the requirements established by the Team, including the Team's Publication Rules.
The Team sends a validation notice to the Submitter(s) once the Team has reviewed a Submission request and judged it complete and correct.
Prior to a decision to acknowledge or reject the request, the request is Team-only, and the Team MUST hold it in the strictest confidentiality. In particular, the Team MUST NOT comment to the media about the Submission request.
The Director acknowledges a Submission request by sending an announcement to the Advisory Committee. Though the announcement MAY be made at any time, the Submitter(s) can expect an announcement between four to six weeks after the validation notice. The Team MUST keep the Submitter(s) informed of when an announcement is likely to be made.
Once a Submission request has been acknowledged, the Team MUST:
- Publish the Member Submission.
- Publish Team comments about the Submission request.
If the Submitter(s) wishes to modify a document published as the result of acknowledgment, the Submitter(s) MUST start the Submission process from the beginning, even just to correct editorial changes.
The Director MAY reject a Submission request for a variety of reasons, including any of the following:
- The ideas expressed in the request overlap in scope with the work of a chartered Working Group, and acknowledgment might jeopardize the progress of the group.
- The IPR statement made by the Submitter(s) is inconsistent with the W3C's Patent Policy [PUB33], Document License [PUB18], or other IPR policies.
- The ideas expressed in the request are poor, might harm the Web, or run counter to W3C's mission.
- The ideas expressed in the request lie well outside the scope of W3C's mission.
In case of a rejection, the Team MUST inform the Advisory Committee representative(s) of the Submitter(s). If requested by the Submitter(s), the Team MUST provide rationale to the Submitter(s) about the rejection. Other than to the Submitter(s), the Team MUST NOT make statements about why a Submission request was rejected.
The Advisory Committee representative(s) of the Submitters(s) MAY appeal the rejection to the TAG if the reasons are related to Web architecture, or to the Advisory Board if the request is rejected for other reasons. In this case the Team SHOULD make available its rationale for the rejection to the appropriate body. The Team will establish a process for such appeals that ensures the appropriate level of confidentiality.
The Advisory Board initiates review of a Process Document as follows:
- The Team sends a Call for Review to the Advisory Committee and other W3C groups.
- After comments have been formally addressed and the document possibly modified, the Team seeks endorsement from the Members by initiating an Advisory Committee review of a Proposed Process Document. The review period MUST last at least four weeks.
- After the Advisory Committee review, if there is consensus, the Team enacts the new process officially by announcing the W3C decision to the Advisory Committee. If there was dissent, Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal the decision.
W3C MAY also modify a Process Document by following the processes for modifying a Recommendation.
Reviews of the Process Document are not public reviews.
13.1 Public Resources
The following public information is available at the W3C Web site.
- How to Join W3C
- Membership Agreement
- The list of current W3C Members
- The list of W3C Activities
- The list of acknowledged Member Submissions
- The W3C technical reports index
- Submission request overview
- The W3C Team
- About the World Wide Web Consortium
- The list of published Team Submissions
- Invited expert and collaborators agreement
- W3C Document License
- W3C Software Notice and License
- Translations of W3C technical reports
- Public W3C mailing lists
- Conflict of Interest Policy for W3C Team Members Engaged in Outside Professional Activities
- Technical Architecture Group (TAG) Charter
- The TAG home page
- Tips for Getting to Recommendation Faster
- W3C liaisons with other organizations
- The Advisory Board home page
- Publication Rules
- W3C Fellows Program
- 5 Feb 2004 version of the W3C Patent Policy. The latest version of the W3C Patent Policy is available at http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy/.
- In-place modification of W3C Technical Reports
- Current Advisory Committee representatives
- Group mailing lists
- The calendar of all scheduled official W3C events
- The New Member Orientation, which includes an introduction to W3C processes from a practical standpoint, including relevant email addresses.
- Advisory Committee meetings
- Member Web site
- How to send a Submission request
- The Art of Consensus, a guidebook for W3C Working Group Chairs and other collaborators
- Guidelines for Disciplinary Action
- How to Organize an Advisory Board or TAG election
13.3 Other References
- "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", S. Bradner, March 1997.
- "Publicly Verifiable Nomcom Random Selection", D. Eastlake 3rd, February 2000.
The following individuals, either through the Revising W3C Process Community Group or independently, have contributed to the development of this version of the Process: Dan Appelquist (Telefonica), Art Barstow (Nokia), Robin Berjon (W3C), Wayne Carr (Intel), Marcos Cáceres (Mozilla), Mark Crawford (SAP), Fantasai (Mozilla), Virginie Galindo (Gemalto), Daniel Glazman (Disruptive Innovations), Joe Hall (CDT), Ivan Herman (W3C), Ian Hickson (Google), Ian Jacobs (W3C), Jeff Jaffe (W3C), Cullen Jennings (Cisco), Chris Lilley (W3C), Giri Mandyam (Qualcomm), Larry Masinter (Adobe Systems), TV Raman (Google), David Singer (Apple), Ralph Swick (W3C), Anne van Kesteren, Steve Zilles (Adobe Systems).
The following individuals participated in the preparation of W3C Process Documents, including this draft, while serving (at different times) on the W3C Advisory Board: Jean-François Abramatic (IBM, and previously ILOG and W3C), Ann Bassetti (The Boeing Company), Jim Bell (HP), Klaus Birkenbihl (Fraunhofer Gesellschaft), Carl Cargill (Sun Microsystems), Michael Champion (Microsoft), Paul Cotton (Microsoft), Tantek Çelik (Mozilla), Don Deutsch (Oracle), David Fallside (IBM), Paul Grosso (Arbortext), Eduardo Gutentag (Sun Microsystems), Steve Holbrook (IBM), Renato Iannella (IPR Systems), Jeff Jaffe (W3C), Ken Laskey (MITRE), Ora Lassila (Nokia), Håkon Wium Lie (Opera Software), Larry Masinter (Adobe Systems), Bede McCall (MITRE), Qiuling Pan (Huawei), Thomas Reardon (Microsoft), Claus von Riegen (SAP AG), David Singer (IBM), Jean-Charles Verdié (MStar), Chris Wilson (Google), Lauren Wood (unaffiliated), and Steve Zilles (Adobe Systems).
Early drafts of the W3C Process Document were prepared by a special Process Working Group. The Working Group was elected by the Advisory Committee representatives on 16 September 1996 and closed in November 1997. The following individuals participated in the Process Working Group (with their affiliations at that time): Carl Cargill (Netscape), Wendy Fong (Hewlett-Packard), John Klensin (MCI), Tim Krauskopf (Spyglass), Kari Laihonen (Ericsson), Thomas Reardon (Microsoft), David Singer (IBM), and Steve Zilles (Adobe). The Team members involved in the Process Working Group were: Jean-François Abramatic, Tim Berners-Lee, Ian Jacobs, and Sally Khudairi.
Thanks also to Don Brutzman (Web3D) for earlier work on liaisons.
The major focus has been to clarify obligations, and who is obliged to meet them, in the process of developing a specification as a W3C Recommendation or Note. A particular change, removing the Last Call phase is intended to clarify that Working Groups are responsible for ensuring that their specification is made available for review and is actively reviewed at appropriate points in its development by appropriate stakeholders. This is particularly intended to stop the cycling of specifications between Last Call (for Patent review) and Candidate Recommendation, as well as to more generally support methodologies such as test-driven standardisation, without enforcing a specific methodology on any group and without losing the overall benefit of W3C's requirement for "horizontal" review.
Other notable changes from the 14 October 2005 Process Document include:
- The Director must address dissenting AC review comments publicly, 2 weeks before publication of a Recommendation.
- If W3C closes a Working Group, they must republish its unfinished work as Notes.
- Errata must not be made normative except by revising a Recommendation
- New requirements that Working groups should document known implementation and must document expected next steps for all publications
- New requirement that Working groups should publish abandoned work as a W3C Note
- Recognition that Interest Groups may publish W3C Notes
- Last Call and Candidate Recommendation have been collapsed together. Some of the requirements are therefore enforced earlier in the process.
- Advisory Committee review now begins at the same time as Candidate recommendation, but still ends no less than 4 weeks after publication as a Proposed Recommendation.
- Implementation requirements for passing beyond Candidate Recommendation are not simply listed as "2 interoperable implementations", instead a new sections gives guidance on what is considered when assessing "adequate implementation experience".
- Instead of relying on a Last Call publication for adequate review Working Groups need to demonstrate "wide review" as part of the requirements to publish a spec as Candidate Recommendation, while leaving them to achieve this as they see fit.
- There is a stronger emphasis (without creating new formal requirements) on getting review and testing implementation as early as possible. How to do this is left to Working Groups to determine.
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