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1. Work before drafting a Charter

Tools and templates


First, W3M chooses a Team Contact to manage the group creation process.

The Process Document includes a section on Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development, which includes a requirement to alert the Advisory Committee when work begins on a charter for a new group. See also tips for getting to Recommendation faster and The QA Handbook, which discusses process and operational aspects of certain quality assurance practices of W3C's Working Groups,

For existing groups, the Chair and Team Contact should work with the WG to create a new charter and develop rationale as to why the change is necessary. This reason need not be overly formal. For instance, it may be no more complex than, "we need three more months to complete our deliverable commitments and are fairly certain we can complete them within those three months." If the Working Group or the Chair proposes changes to the charter, they should send them to the Team Contact, who should see that the request is reviewed by the Project and Strategy Leads in a timely manner.

Note: Team Contacts should take caution when creating a new charter by copying an old one, especially in light of adoption of the W3C Patent Policy. Please review the list of charter requirements to ensure that your charter is complete (e.g., it includes a duration for the group).

2. Advance Notice

W3C Process (section "Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development") requires that the Team notify the Advisory Committee when a charter for a new Working Group or Interest Group is in development. The exact timing of the advance notice may vary from charter to charter. In practice, if the advance notice would precede the formal call for review by only a short delay, we skip the advance notice; see the Advance Notice for Charter template

The Team should consult How to Send Advance Notice of Work to the Advisory Commitee for more information.

3. Charter Creation

The Team Contact works with the Strategy Lead to draft a provisional charter. See the Charter template and W3C Process Document for the list of charter requirements. The Team Contact may wish to share drafts of the provisional charter with a candidate Chair (if one exists), a relevant interest group or interested community of W3C members prior to Member review.

3.1 Patent Policy Section for a Working Group Charter

Each Working Group charter must include a section related to the Patent Policy.

If a Working Group is chartered to produce Recommendations covered by the W3C Patent Policy, the section title must be "Patent Policy" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:

This Working Group operates under the <a href="">W3C Patent Policy</a> (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

Add the following Note when applicable:

Note: All of the deliverables of this Working Group are informative-only. Per section 8.3 of the W3C Patent Policy, since no provisions in these deliverables constitute "architectural [or] interoperability requirements," participants in this Working Group have no licensing obligations associated with any of these chartered deliverables.

In the list of of a Working Group's deliverables, the Charter must clearly indicate which documents are expected to become Recommendations with associated licensing obligations as described by the W3C Patent Policy. Note: the W3C Process provides a precise list of requirements when listing deliverables on the Recommendation track.

If a Working Group is chartered under the W3C Patent Policy but is not chartered to produce Recommendations covered by the policy, the section title must be "Patent Disclosures" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:

The [Name] Working Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on [Topic]. This Working Group is not chartered to produce Recommendations with associated licensing obligations as described by the W3C Patent Policy. W3C reminds Working Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While this Working Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Working Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from other Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

3.2 Patent Policy Section for an Interest Group Charter

Each Interest Group charter must include a section related to the Patent Policy. For all Interest Groups, the section title must be "Patent Disclosures" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:

The [Name] Interest Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on [Topic]. W3C reminds Interest Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Interest Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Interest Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

If the Interest Group's proceedings are public, add the following sentence:

Please note that the proceedings of this Interest Group (mailing list archives, minutes, etc.) are publicly visible.

3.3 Reference to a Disclosure Page

Each Working Group must have a public page for tracking patent disclosures and exclusions regarding specifications produced by the Working Group. The disclosure mechanics must not appear in the charter since they are likely to change over time (as we begin to automate more of this process). The Charter MAY include a link to a disclosure page or refer to the Working Group home page, which must include a link to the disclosure page. For instance, adding to one of the above patent disclosure paragraphs:

For information about patent disclosures or exclusions regarding specifications produced by this Working Group, please refer to the Working Group home page.

See Guidelines for Linking to Patent Policy Disclosure Pages (notably for information about linking to IPP, the system for management of groups under the patent policy).

3.4 Horizontal Review

Identification of horizontal dependencies should follow guidance under Section 5.2.6, 8th bullet, of the W3C Process.

There are key characteristics that are typically required (in different measure, and per section Wide Review of the Process Document) of all specifications and they are therefore called “horizontal” characteristics. As of today, the identified horizontal characteristics are: accessibility, internationalization, mobility, device independence, privacy, security, and technical architecture principles. For each of these characteristics, W3M will designate which team members have expertise to help all team contacts ensure the characteristics are achieved.

During the charter creation process, the Team Contact needs to involve at least one expert for each horizontal characteristic to ensure that the Charter adequately describes any dependencies it might have relative to horizontal characteristics. This should be a lightweight involvement – such as an email with a draft charter with a request for comment. Ideally, this involvement should start early in Charter development to avoid undue delays. Team Contacts should negotiate the timing of reviews early in the chartering process.

W3M must ensure that there are sufficient experts on staff so that it generally does not take more than two weeks to get a response, although in most cases it is beneficial for the experts to have more time to provide input.

Different Working Groups are chartered with different levels of specificity: some groups are accompanied by a draft list of requirements or a draft spec. However, it is not the purpose of the chartering activity to review these drafts for horizontal characteristics – ultimately that is achieved through the normal W3C Process. So in all cases, the purpose here is to ensure that dependencies are identified; but there is no thorough review of the spec.

Some of the key groups where there could be dependencies include:

When the Charter is brought to W3M, the Team Contact should state which horizontal experts approved that the dependencies were appropriately documented based on the current understanding of the work. If when the Team Contact engaged experts there were insufficient experts available for timely review, then the Team Contact can move ahead with the charter nevertheless, and should report this to W3M. W3M will monitor whether particular horizontal activities are insufficiently resourced, leading to regular delays on charter reviews.

4. Charter Approval by W3M

W3M approval of a charter is required unless there are no substantive changes.

The W3M process for approving new Charters is described in the (Team-only) documentation on W3M evaluation of Proposed Charter and AC Reviews. The Strategy or Project Lead informs the Comm Team of W3M approval by sending email to, or the Head of Communications forwards the W3M action for information.

Charter Extension

Note: Is the Group aware that its charter is being extended? Please inform them before discussion within W3M.

W3M resolved to adopt the Policy on W3C Group Charter End Dates, effective 18 June 2015.

If W3M resolves to extend a charter, the Strategy or Project Lead's message to the Comm Team should take the form of an extension announcement; see the charter extension template.

The Comm Team sends extension announcements to and cc's It is a good practice to forward the announcement to the public list of the group.

The Comm Team updates the list of groups accordingly via the Groups DB.

Updating the Charter End Date in the Charter

When a charter is extended, the Team Contact modifies the Charter in place as follows:

5. Advisory Committee Review of the Charter

Per the Patent Policy Transition Procedure, Advisory Committee review of a charter for a group under the W3C Patent Policy is required unless changes are limited to any combination of the following:

  1. Extension in duration (see extension template)
  2. Other non-substantive changes (e.g., clarifications, editorial repairs, minor error corrections, change of Team Contact, etc.).
  3. Inclusion of the W3C Patent Policy in a modified charter of an existing CPP Working Group.

For a group covered by the CPP, per section "Advisory Committee Review of a Working Group or Interest Group Charter" of the Process Document, "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."

5.1 Organizing the Call for Review

Note: Team Contacts should ensure that their Working Group participants are aware of the review.

The Team Contact:

The Communications Team encourages the Team Contact to include in the request a draft Call for Review, created by using this template (although the URI to the questionnaire may not yet exist).

The Communications Team (or the motivated Team Contact) builds a Call for Review questionnaire. The URI for the questionnaire is added to the Call for Review. Note:

Once the Head of Communications has approved (or explicitly delegated approval of) the Call for Review and the questionnaire, the Communications Team:

  1. Sends the Call for Review to
  2. Sends a version of the announcement to (archive). Use this template (and see the example). The announcement must include:
  3. Send the same email Note: used to cc but due to mailing list configuration issues, we stopped that practice.

Note: Starting in January 2007, W3C makes all charters public during Advisory Committee review.

5.2 Evaluating the Review Results

W3M evaluation of the review results proceeds the same way as W3M evaluation of Review Results.

Beginning in July 2014, the Director instituted an experimental practice when it comes to approving Working Group Charters.

Generally, the Director will expect to receive reviews for Charter proposals from at least 5% of the Membership, and will generally not approve Charters without a margin of favorable reviews equal to 5% of the Membership. Additionally, the Director will continue to consider the number of declarations of intent to participate or implement the output of the Working Group.

Given the diversity of work underway in the Consortium, including groups that focus on horizontal reviews (e.g. accessibility, security, and internationalization), as well as technologies that are initially focused on by some segment of the Web's stakeholders, there are times where exceptions to this practice may be warranted. In those cases, the Director will document reasons why the exception is warranted.

5.3 Managing Changes to Charters

Very minor changes may be made in place to a charter. If there are only very minor changes to a charter resulting from the review, the (future) Director's decision includes the original charter URI.

If there are substantive changes, before any announcement, the staff:

  1. Mints a new URI for the version of the charter that includes the changes. In the "About" section of the charter, please link to the original (reviewed) charter.
  2. Modifies the original charter in place with the following status sentence at the top:
    This charter has been superseded as a result of Advisory Committee Review; please see the [revised charter].

6. Announcement of Director's Decision, Call for Participation

Please ensure that the following are done and you have documentation before requesting to announce a group:

  1. W3M has approved the group, whether or not preceded by an Advisory Committee Review
  2. There is a public home page for the group
  3. The group exists in IPP. If the group does not exist in IPP then contact to create the group. Note that this requires: Creating the group will give a (dbwg) group identifier that lists the group in the drop-down for db-backed groups in the mailing list creation form.
  4. All relevant mailing lists exist. If not, Team Contact may create the mailing list(s).
  5. The main mailing list is associated with the group via the Group Service Management interface (this updates automatically the list of groups.)

The Communications Team should try to minimize the number of messages sent to the Advisory Committee, while ensuring that each message is clear. In general, the Comm Team sends one email for group approval (Director's Decision) and call for participation (see sample announcement), but may send the latter as a second email, and if so uses a template for the call for participation.

6.1 Organizing the Director's Decision

The Team contact sends a draft Director's Decision and Call for Participation to the Head of W3C Communications cc'ing w3t-comm (sample announcement of group approval). The announcement must indicate:

The Head of W3C Communications must approve the Director's Decision and Call for Participation before the Communications Team sends them to The Communications Team SHOULD announce the Director's decision within two weeks after the end of the AC review (or send an email setting new expectations). An announcement is made if the proposal is approved or rejected.

Is is a best practice that the Communications Team also forwards the Call for Participation to the Working Group's primarily public mailing list (to notify the group, including Invited Experts). The Results of the Call for Review should be elided.

6.2 Creating a Mechanism for People to Join the Group

The mechanism that people will use to join the group depends on several factors.

If you wish also for DBWG to provide a public, simplified list of group participants, ask sysreq to enable that in your request (per the dbwg documentation).

6.3 Organizing the Call for Participation

Note: Before sending the Call for Participation, make sure the charter is public (since 2007, charters are public during AC review) and any final edits (e.g., addition of link to page for joining the group) have been made.

The Team Contact sends a draft Director's Decision and Call for Participation (CFP) to the Communications Team (w3t-comm). See a sample announcement. The announcement must include:

  1. A link to the group charter.
  2. A link to the group public home page.
  3. A link to a page with information about the mechanism used to join the group (e.g., a URI to an IPP "join" form for a group under the W3C Patent Policy).
  4. Name and contact information for the Team Contact(s)

The announcement must also indicate when appropriate:

  1. For a newly created group, information about the dates of the first face-to-face meeting.

After sending the Director's Decision and Call for Participation:

Note: When we recharter a Working Group and the charter scope has changed, we enter the CFP into the Group DB, which triggers messages to the group participants that they must rejoin. If the new charter is not substantively different, do not register the new CFP.

Note: Team Contacts with questions about how an Invited Expert joins a group should consult the Team Policy for Invited Experts.

Revision History

Coralie Mercier
last revised $Date: 2017/06/09 12:31:59 $ by $Author: coralie $