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< Headlights 2014

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"Not just a Websumer, I'm a W3C Webizen!"

We are looking to explore a "Webizen" program. For a nominal small fee, an individual would get some benefits. This task force will explore whether such a program is viable and what the benefits should be (e.g. user groups, user conferences, T-shirts, ID-cards, a path to provide user input to Working Groups, recognition as a Webizen for participants in W3C Working Groups and Community Groups.)

To join, subscribe to public-webizen@w3.org, add your name to the #Participants list.


  • Open and public: This task force is open to the public and will operate until June 2014. Come and build the Webizen program!
  • e-mail: We welcome feedback on the public-webizen@w3.org mailing list archive and may even use your feedback in our work.
  • IRC: There is an IRC channel you can join too: irc.w3.org, port 6665, channel #webizen ([1] Pre-filled Web interface to IRC]).


At TPAC 2013, in response to a question from the floor (Look for “individual membership“), the W3C Director requested exploration of individual participation in W3C.

W3C Management (W3M) explored the concept of “Individual Membership” – which would (for a fee) confer on individuals rights as Members; notably the ability to participate in W3C Working Groups. However, this key desire – to have appropriate individuals participate in W3C Working Groups – is already possible (without a fee) via Invited Experts (IE). Hence for this request, Individual Membership is not necessary. We do not want to deprecate existing IEs, nor possibly ask them to suddenly pay a fee.

However, the concept of improving affiliation with W3C without "Membership" is still appealing. So we now have a proposal called "Webizen". It is not a Membership program, but it provides certain privileges - for example participation (via representation) in the AC.

An additional piece of background is W3C Supporters. This provides no real benefits to the supporters, but allows them to charitably give donations to W3C.

Concept of the Webizen program

The idea of the program is to allow individuals to affiliate with the Web standards community by establishing a new designation of Webizen. This is not a Membership benefit and does not confer W3C Membership rights. Instead, we seek to make available a new means to congregate as a community.

As it is not a Membership benefit, 'Webizen' is an affiliation that may be chosen not only by current outsiders of the W3C community, but even individuals working for Member organizations or the W3C Team.

To make it a meaningful gesture, a token fee of e.g. $100 US per annum (or equivalent in another currency) is suggested. To make this a fair request, a key design goal is to create a package of benefits which arguably are worth $100. We intend to establish a sliding-scale fee to enable greater global participation. At the same time, the program must not lose money, so we must design the benefits accordingly.


  • Attract a different set of stakeholders to the W3C community, who care greatly about the Web even if they may not be spec writers
  • Increase affiliation with W3C for this set of stakeholders
  • Get closer linkages between W3C spec writers, and the vast ecosystem that relies on W3C Recommendations
  • Increase general public review of web technology in general and W3C Reports
  • Provide a means for the general public to influence W3C agenda and priorities

Package of benefits

The key question for the Webizen task force is to design a package of benefits that would be meaningful for some number of Webizens, but not overly costly for W3C – since we anticipate a low-key launch. Some suggestions to date include:

  • Webizen Electoral College
    • for every N individual members (where N x the cost of individual membership is > affiliate membership) one "Webizen" seat opens up on the AC. And every year or two, all webizens votes to elect their representatives.
  • Invitation to teleconference organized once annually by the CEO to provide an update on W3C's activities and plans.
  • Webizen ID card.
  • Public profile on the W3C website.
  • Flourish next to where name appears in Community Group and Working Group list of participants.
  • Name listed on our Supporters page (with # years).
  • Annual Webizen T-shirt.
    • Participate in annual T-shirt design competition
  • Stickers, mug, other schwag.
  • Discounts of W3C services of interest to individuals; such as W3C Validator Suite and certain conference fees.
  • Voice in a Webizen Blog linked from W3C blog.

Intermediate or Longer-term benefits

  • Creating user groups. W3C is vendor dominated and we imagine that many Webizens might want to influence Web technologies in core issues of APIs, as well as UI design.
  • Best practice discussions, webinars, luncheons
  • User conferences.

Participation Benefits and Non Benefits

Two key Member benefits are not available to individual Webizens - participation in Working Groups and the Advisory Committee.

To have appropriate individuals participate in W3C Working Groups – is already possible (without a fee) via Invited Experts. Hence for WGs, extending participation to Webizens is not necessary. It would deprecate existing IEs; possibly ask them to suddenly pay a fee.

Advisory Committee Membership is more valuable than the $100 fee that Webizens pay. However, Webizens are able to elect Webizen representatives (reps) to the AC.

The design is to choose a number of reps which gives Webizens a real voice in the AC. On the other hand, given that the reps don't have an ongoing business relationship with their electorate (unlike AC reps for Members), and may not be able to represent whether there is commitment to implementations (unlike AC reps for Members) we will limit the number of reps - at least initially. We reserve the right to expand the limit over time.

The reps would have some, but not all rights of an AC Member. They review Charters and REC track deliverables, participate in ac-forum discussions, may attend AC meetings, may nominate for the TAG and AB, and vote in TAG and AB elections. They may accept Member confidential information, but may not distribute Member confidential information within their companies (since their companies are not Members) or among Webizens (because re-distribution to all Webizens means it is no longer in Member space). They cannot nominate themselves or anyone else to participate in Working Groups.

The number of reps for the Webizen community is N/200 with a cap of 25, where N is the number of Webizens that have signed up. If the number is smaller than 10, they would be elected on an at-large basis. If larger than 10, we might devise a regional representation scheme.

No single company may have more than 1 AC representative. So employees of Member companies cannot be reps, and if more than one rep is elected from a company, the one with fewer votes would need to step down.

Webizen voting for the AC

There are many different mechanisms for voting and it will no doubt be controversial what voting technique should be used by Webizens to select AC reps.

In W3C TAG and Advisory Board elections each voter can vote n times if there are n different seats. This has the desirable effect that the n "best" candidates need not compete with each other - they can all be named on every ballot. It has the undesirable effect that if a significant minority of voters prefer one slate of candidates and a majority prefer a different slate, that the minority gets no voice while the majority can take all of the slots.

For the Webizen vote, this undesirable effect is a significant issue. Voters could be distributed around the world and may not know people in other regions of the world. The W3C approach to voting could disenfranchise significant numbers of Webizens in the election.

This is not to say that geographical representation should be the major issue for Webizen voting. But it is at least one consideration where AC style voting is likely to lead to frustrated groups.

There are several approaches to addressing this.

A popular approach is Single Transferable Vote (STV) [2]. This removes the problem of shutting out the minority. But it introduces other problems. If balloting is for 25 candidates, it might be hard for voters to list all of their preferences. If several candidates run in a certain region of the world, they may compete and result in no representatives from that part of the world. And in general, STV is complex.

Other organizations (e.g. IEEE [3]) have a regional component to their voting. Over a longer period of time, we need to explore the best voting mechanism for Webizens which may have a regional component.

Initially, the proposal is to keep it simple, and to avoid the possibility that a "majority" region gets all of the seats. This would be achieved as follows:

  1. Any Webizen can run for an AC position
  2. Every Webizen gets one vote
  3. If there are n seats available, they go to the top n vote-getters.

Until n>9, there is no urgency to make it more complicated.

Of course, we need to build other factors into the overall process. Such as:

  1. Nominations for 2016 are due on July 1, 2015.
  2. Nominee statements are due on August 1, 2015.
  3. Election period is September 1 - October 1, 2015.
  4. Position is help for one year, from 1/1/16 until 1/1/17

[1] http://www.w3.org/2005/10/Process-20051014/acreview.html#ACVotes [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote [3] https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/election/election_index.html

Low-key launch

No one really knows if this is a good idea. If we choose to launch it, we would do so without much broad advertising. We would start with modest targets for participation and a modest package of benefits. If the idea gets traction with the community and gets many participants, we can expand the activities later.

A comm plan would be some percentage of the Webizen program income, e.g. 8%

Low-key launch Comm plan

A low-key comm plan could be:

  • Webizen landing page and a banner or square at top of selected w3.org pages pointing back to it;
  • Bonus for early adopters (detail to flesh out);
  • posting on our Website (W3C Blog following a homepage news);
  • W3C Member email;
  • a mailing to all individuals in work groups;
  • get selected prominent individuals/entities to tweet (e.g. TimBL, @webplatform, @w3cmemes, @slightlylate (Alex Russell who asked about indiv. membership at TPAC 2013), @parisweb, @stshank, @whiteafrican etc.);

Target audience

List of who we would approach first to become Webizens:

  • Individuals in our work groups;
  • 5.6K Premium Validator suite users, Unicorn users;
  • W3C alumni;

Preferred approach to reach them (without spamming them):

  • Customer-relation type of engagement;

Intermediate or Longer-term Comm plan


Concept & pitch

Ideas of pitch:

  • "A simple donation is all it takes to show that you want to give back to the Web for all you have gained - knowledge, ease of shopping, social networking, and the continued equality and connection of humans. You can say: the free, interoperable, international Web has given me so much, I want to give back. I'm a W3C Webizen."
  • "The Web has given me so much, I want to give back. I'm a W3C Webizen."
  • "Not just a Websumer, I'm a Webizen."

Operational questions

  • The Webizen task force must look at operational costs: fee processing, database recording, mailing lists, costs of benefits, etc. to ensure that this low-revenue operation does not cost too much.
  • International and global issues
  • Accessibility
  • Who on the team would actually do the necessary tasks


  • Organise design competition for annual t-shirt.

Funds usage - internal to W3C

Revenue from the Webizen program will be used to offset the costs of the Webizen program. Any excess revenues will be made available for general W3C funds, rather than earmarked to a particular function or location.


How do I participate in a working group

Q: As a Webizen, how do I participate in a W3C Working Group?

A1: If you are an employee of a member company, ask your AC representative to add you to the working group.

A2: If you are an individual not employed by a member company:

Most working groups work publicly with a public mailing list that anybody can join.

In practice nearly all working groups are resource constrained for their work. Thus working groups are incentivized to recognize capable public individual participants and offer them invited expert status in the group to help with working group tasks.

In particular, take the following steps:

  1. Join the IRC channel and public mailing list of the working group (WG)
  2. Participate in good faith in IRC and the mailing list, and help out e.g. by:
    • documenting specific real world use-cases they think the WG should solve
    • pointing out errors/issues/improvements in specs
    • contributing test cases for WG technologies
    • provide helpful answers and responses to various questions raised

In practice, individuals that have shown up and consistently positively participated in this manner have been invited to become invited experts in many working groups, e.g. CSS. Often this invitation occurs by a WG chair or other member getting to know the individual, advocating for them inside the working group, and then reaching a consensus decision to invite the individual.

Administrative section

Task Force led by: Jeff Jaffe <jeff@w3.org>


  • Jeff Jaffe
  • Coralie Mercier
  • Veronica Thom
  • Alexandre Bertails
  • Amy van der Hiel
  • Ann Bassetti
  • Andrei Sambra
  • JC Verdie
  • Robin Berjon


  • October 2013 - January 2014: Proposals from W3C Members and Staff added to this page
  • Jan 2014: W3C management prioritization of headlights ideas
  • Feb 2014: Announcement of topics selected for further development and start of task forces
  • 7 March: People are encouraged to join the task forces by this date.
  • 10 March - June: Task forces develop ideas
  • 8-10 June 2014: AC meeting discussion
  • June-July 2014: Further development
  • July 2014: W3M evaluation of proposals and assignment of resources

Meeting records and actions

  • 2014-04-10
    • koalie to align pitch phrases with goals as stated in section created today
    • koalie to get W3C Offices to identify likely candidates and seek their reaction
    • (Carried from past meeting) Veronica to update wiki (discounts proposal)
  • 2014-03-27 11:00 am (ET)
    • [done] Jeff to elaborate on how elections should be done (college)
    • [done] Veronica to socialise her proposal further and update wiki (discounts)
  • 2014-03-20
    • [recurrent] Coralie to bring to Ted's attention any new proposed benefit that involves systeam and seek his opinion on feasability (1) and cost (2)
    • [done] Jeff to write a proposal to write up what an electoral college would look like.
    • [done]Veronica to figure what sort of discounts level to devcampus, VS etc. are high-enough to attract people, but not high-enough that they give the services away.
  • 2014-03-10
    • [open, WIP] Coralie to come up with comm plan for low-key start of webizen program.
    • [done] Coralie to create a wiki.
    • [done] Coralie to nudge Ted about systeam aspects of Webizen. (Minutes, key points)
    • [done] Veronica to draft a proposal of what kind of discounts a Webizen program would confer.