W3C Process Document

On 1 August 2014, W3C began a transition away from this document; see the current W3C Process Document.

1 Organization: Members, Advisory Committee, Team, Advisory Board

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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.

1.1 Members

W3C Members are primarily represented in W3C processes as follows:

  1. 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: Advisory Committee representatives have appeal powers for some processes described in this document.
  2. Employees of Member organizations participate in Working Groups, Interest Groups, and Coordination Groups and author and review documents on the Recommendation track.

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 may subscribe according to the Full Member agreement [PUB6] or the Affiliate Member agreement [PUB7]. The Team must ensure that Member participation agreements remain Team confidential 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 [PUB7]. In this case, the same restrictions pertaining to related Members apply should the individual be employed by or affiliated with another W3C Member.

1.1.1 Rights of Members

Each Member organization enjoys the following rights and benefits:

In the case (described in paragraph 5g of the Full and Affiliate Member agreements), 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 may exercise all the rights and privileges of W3C Membership. In addition, the Advisory Committee representative may designate up to four (or more at the Chairman's discretion) unpaid individuals from the organization who may exercise the rights of Membership. 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.

1.1.2 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:

  1. Either Member is a subsidiary or employee of the other, or
  2. Both Members are subsidiaries of a common entity.

A subsidiary is an organization of which effective control and/or majority ownership rests with another, single organization.

Related Members must disclose these relationships according to the mechanisms described in the New Member orientation [MEM4].

1.1.3 Member Confidentiality

Members must treat all Member-only documents as confidential within W3C and use reasonable efforts to maintain this confidentiality and not to release this information to the general public or press. Access to Member-only information may be extended by Advisory Committee representatives to fellow employees considered appropriate recipients. All recipients must respect the intended (limited) scope of Member-only information. For instance, Advisory Committee representatives and fellow employees should 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 [MEM4].

The Team must provide mechanisms to protect the confidentiality of Member-only information and ensure that Members and other authorized people have proper access to this information. Documents on the Web should clearly indicate whether they require Member-only confidentiality.

1.1.4 Advisory Committee (AC)

When an organization joins W3C [PUB5], it must name its Advisory Committee representative as part of the Membership agreement. A New Member orientation [MEM4] explains how to subscribe or unsubscribe to Advisory Committee mailing lists, provides information about Advisory Committee meetings, etc. Advisory Committee representatives must follow the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information according to the mechanisms described in the New Member orientation [MEM4]. Additional information for Members is available at the Member Web site [MEM6].

Advisory Committee Mailing Lists

The Team must use a mailing list for official announcements (e.g., those required by this document) from the Team to the Advisory Committee. Each Advisory Committee representative should be subscribed to this list. An Advisory Committee representative may request that additional individuals from their organization be subscribed to this list. Failure to contain distribution internally may result in suspension of additional email addresses, at the discretion of the Team.

The Team must also make available a mailing list for discussions among Advisory Committee representatives.

Advisory Committee Meetings

The Team must organize a face-to-face meeting for the Advisory Committee twice a year. The Chairman is the Chair of these meetings. At each Advisory Committee meeting, the Team should provide an update to the Advisory Committee about:


Each Member organization should send one employee to each Advisory Committee meeting as its representative. In exceptional circumstances (e.g., during a period of transition between representatives from an organization), the Chairman may allow a Member organization to send two employees to a meeting. Additional employees may attend the meeting when invited by the Chairman (e.g., the Chairman may invite the Advisory Board or group Chairs to attend the 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.

At least eight weeks before an Advisory Committee meeting, the Chairman should solicit agenda suggestions from Advisory Committee representatives. The Chairman should announce the agenda two weeks before the meeting. The Team should make available minutes from each Advisory Committee meeting within two weeks of the meeting.

More information about Advisory Committee meetings [MEM5] is available at the Member Web site.

1.2 The W3C Team

The Team consists of the W3C paid staff and W3C Fellows (i.e., Member employees working as part of the Team). It is led by the Chairman and the Director. 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 Chairman manages the general operation of the Consortium, oversees the development of the W3C international structure (e.g., role of Host institutions, etc.), coordinates liaisons with other standards bodies, and addresses legal and policy issues. The Chairman is the Chair of the Advisory Board and chairs Advisory Committee Meetings.

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.

A W3C decision is one where either:

Both the Director and the Chairman may delegate responsibility to the Team for any of the Director's or Chairman's roles described in this document. Team administrative information such as Team salaries, detailed budgeting, and other business decisions are Team confidential, subject to oversight by the Host institutions.

Note: W3C is not currently incorporated. For legal contracts, W3C is represented by three "Host" institutions: L'Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA), Keio University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Each Host institution exercises all the rights and privileges of W3C Membership.

1.3 Advisory Board (AB)

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 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 that the Advisory Board must use for its communication, and that is confidential to the Advisory Board and the Team.

The Team should send a summary of each Advisory Board meeting to the Advisory Committee. Advisory Board representatives should attend Advisory Committee meetings. The Chairman may invite other members of the Team to participate in Advisory Board meetings.

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 [MEM13].

1.3.1 Advisory Board participation

The Advisory Board has nine participants in addition to the Chairman, who is the Chair of the Advisory Board. With the exception of the Chairman, the terms of all Advisory Board participants are for two years. The terms are staggered so that four or five terms expire each year. If an individual is appointed or elected to fill an incomplete term, that individual's term will end at the normal expiration date of that term.

An Advisory Board participant may resign or change affiliations. When either occurs, the Chairman may declare the participant's seat to be vacant. The vacant seat will be filled at the next regular Advisory Board election.

Advisory Board participants who are not employees of a Member organization must agree to the terms of the invited expert and collaborators agreement [PUB17]. Advisory Board participants must follow the conflict of interest policy by disclosing information to the rest of the Advisory Board.

1.3.2 Advisory Board elections

The Advisory Board is elected by the Advisory Committee. The election process begins when the Chairman sends a call for nominations to the Advisory Committee. The call specifies the number of available seats, the deadline for nominations, and the address where nominations must be sent. Nominations should be made with the consent of the nominee and should include a few informative paragraphs about the nominee.

If, after the deadline for nominations, the number of nominees is less than or equal to the number of available seats, those nominees are thereby elected. Otherwise, the Chairman 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 must be sent. Each Advisory Committee representative may vote for as many candidates as there are available seats.

Once the deadline for votes has passed, the Chairman announces the results to the Advisory Committee. The candidates with the most votes are elected to the available seats. Two-year terms begin with the announcement of the results. When it is necessary to fill one or more "short terms", the Advisory Board must adopt a random process for determining which candidates are elected to short terms.