Guidelines for Evaluating Individual Requests to Participate in a Group

Note: These Guidelines are in development and are likely to evolve as W3C gains experience with these requests. In addition, it is possible that we will try to streamline these requests by asking these questions systematically through the user interface.

The W3C Community and Business Group policies seek a balance between individual participation and organizational legal commitments (e.g., the Community Contributor License Agreement (CLA). While W3C has a preference for organizational, rather than individual patent and copyright commitments, people may request to participate without representing their organization’s legal interests. The W3C Staff has the sole discretion to approve such requests. This draft document lists some of the considerations the W3C Staff apply when evaluating such requests.

  • Was the request intentional (that is, not a mistake)?
  • Is the person affiliated with a W3C Member? In the case of a W3C Member, only the AC Representative can make a licensing commitment.
  • Is the person affiliated with a non-Member that has material business interests in this topic? Usually we will ask the organization to join.
  • Is the organization aware of the person’s request to participate? Does the person have appropriate permission to participate from the organization (e.g., acceptable under a moonlighting policy/written permission)? Some companies have broad ownership claims to employee work product. If the company claims ownership in the employee’s work, the company should be making the legal commitments.
  • Is the person a consultant acting as a proxy for an organization? If so, the organization should join.
  • Is the person using an organizational email address? That can lead to confusion among colleagues or other parties about representation and should be avoided.
  • Is the group producing Specifications that do not require patent commitments? Because we are not seeking licensing commitments, individual participation is generally ok (though there are instances when the chair has indicated a preference for organizational participation). If not sure, ask the Chairs before approving. Examples of groups that are not producing specifications or don’t require patent commitments: Accessibility in India, Augmented Reality, African Developers Taking on the Web, Community Council, Web Education, Core Mobile Web Platform, WAI Engage, Mobile Accessibility, Microposts, Digital Publishing, Web History, Web Observatory, Schema Bib Extend, SVG Mapping, Web Dev Data, E-learning: Evolving technologies and growing reach, Open Data Spain Community Group, Geospatial Semantic Web, Information Architecture, Permanent Identifier, Restricted Media, VoiceXML, Social Business, Open Linked Education, Linked Data Models for Emotion and Sentiment Analysis, Sustainable Web Design, Research Object for Scholarly Communication, Best Practices for Multilingual Linked Open Data, Chinese Web Accessibility, Chinese Digital Publishing, Webize, Zakim on Web, Web Copyright, Semantic Statistics, Web Payments Charter Development, Voting Systems, Automated WCAG Monitoring, Developer Relations, Open and Transparent W3C. Note: We expect to make it easier to create and join groups that do not require patent commitments in an upcoming revision to the program.

The W3C Staff may request additional context from the person who made the request and may ask other individuals (e.g., the Chair) for additional context.