Free to join, all welcome, at every level of expertise

There is no cost to joining a W3C Community Group, and the Print and Page Layout Community Group welcomes everybody, at all levels of expertise, who wants to join.

There was a comparatively high number of survey responses from people not in the Print and Page Layout Community Group who, nonetheless, think that the Community Group should primarily be about XSL-FO and think that we should develop standards around XSL-FO.  I was talking last weekend about people wanting something but not being in the group to do it to another attendee at XML Prague, who was of the opinion that some people might think they’re not expert enough to be part of this Community Group.

There’s many factors that say that isn’t so:

  • You don’t need to be active all the time – joining registers your interest, and we don’t mind if you lurk until such time as you have something to say
  • Knowing the specs isn’t the only skill – we have a wide ranging set of goals, and none of adding content to the wiki, trying out software, or voicing your opinion about what needs to be done require any advanced expertise
  • There’s no pre-commitment – Working Groups have a charter setting out how many hours or days per week participants are expected to spend, but Community Groups don’t have that; Business Groups are pay-to-play, so you might expect some level of commitment there, but it’s free to join a Community Group
  • The W3C itself doesn’t care – there’s officially no demands on a Community Group to produce anything – and, with the W3C Team account favoriting a tweet saying ‘OH: “I think a w3c community group is basically an online petition”’, there’s unofficially within some parts of the W3C an expectation that a Community Group won’t produce anything – so there’s no pressure on you yet everything we do produce is a win

Given all that, why are we happy to welcome new members?  There’s no pecking order or bragging rights accruing to Community Groups based on membership numbers.  The win for the CG is both that it’s easier to turn an inactive member into an active member than turn a non-member into an active member and that it helps everyone if we have a wider range of voices in the conversation.  The win for you is that you get to take part in the conversation and influence the direction of the Community Group rather than projecting from the outside that the CG will or should do something: we still might not go the way that you want, but it’s more likely that we will if you take part and work towards the goal that you want.

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