. Art of Consensus Guide
W3C Working/Interest Group Chair
The W3C Director appoints (or re-appoints) a Chair (or more than one co-Chair) for every Working
Group and Interest Group ("Group"). The Chair's primary role is to
facilitate consensus-building among Group members. The Chair works together with
the W3C Staff Contact. Key roles of the Group
Chair are listed below. Additional information on the role of the
Group Chair is in the W3C Process
Chair Buddy System
The Working Group effectiveness Task Force helped establish a Chair Buddy System by which experienced buddy-mentors help buddy-mentees.
Interested parties should subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org (Member-only archive) and visit the dedicated Chair Buddy System site.
Role of the Group Chair
Creates Group charter and convenes Group
- Develops Group charter together with the Staff
- Is familiar with the W3C
Process, the W3C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (CEPC),
- Convenes Group and ensures Group members oriented to W3C Process with assistance of Staff
- Schedules deliverables and sets milestones towards completion
- Appoints document editors. (NOTE: Editors are responsible for
ensuring that Group decisions are correctly reflected in Group
documents, and for maintaining an issue list.)
- Proposes invited experts with assistance of Staff Contact (W3C
staff must be involved in decisions regarding inclusion/exclusion
of participants). Makes sure that all participants have
filled out a call for participation and have disclosed their IPR in
accordance with W3C process.
- (If there is a Co-chair) Establishes clear and close
coordination with Co-chair.
Coordinates with W3C Team and other W3C Working Groups as
- Maintains close coordination with W3C Staff
- Maintains coordination with assigned liaisons from other W3C
- Participates in the Chairs mailing list (archive) and attends Chairs
the team contact should make sure the chair is in the
chairs group (should be managed automatically)
- Works with the Communications Team and Staff Contact in preparing press release.
- Communicates with the press, when necessary and appropriate,
and with prior coordination with the communication team, on behalf
of the group.
- Ensures all participants have proper access to Group
data with assistance from Staff Contact.
Maintains Group Process & Organization
- Solicits drafts, encourages participation.
- Judges items in or out of scope for the Group.
- Generally stays neutral in discussion but can participate in
technical discussions if announces in advance that will remove their
chair "hat" at that time.
- Keeps Group's charter compliant with W3C Process, and initiates
charter update as needed.
- Ensures participants abide by the terms and spirit of the
W3C Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (CEPC)
- Find suitable time slots for distributed meeting where most of the attendees are expected to participate from remote locations (e.g., by telephone, video conferencing, or IRC). (see
also Organizing a distributed meeting ) and revisit those time slots
on a regular basis.
- Announces calls, meetings, events with appropriate advance time
and through proper channels.
- Ensures minutes are taken and posted in due time.
- Defines meeting agendas.
- Maintains home page of Group using W3C authoring guidelines
(receives access privileges for doing that).
- If it is necessary to take a vote, supervises voting and announces results, with
assistance of Staff Contact.
- Resolve issues that motivated "No" votes (facilitate reaching
- Revises deliverables timeline as needed.
What to look for when choosing a chair
The following bullets based on suggestions from Joseph
- Experience in chairing similar groups, committees, and/or
- Previous participation or technical contributions in related
- Ability to satisfy the time commitment (from you and/or your
- Familiarity or willingness to learn W3C Process and
document formatting rules;
- Familiarity with the W3C
Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (CEPC);
- Ability to keep the Working Group "in Charter", both for
technical and IPR issues;
- Ability (both actual and perceived by the Working Group --
including potential competitors) to forge consensus fairly and
without bias from your affiliation/employer and, sometimes, even
your own technical positions.
The team contact should
arrange for the Chair and the Director to meet (by phone if necessary) to make sure
they're on the same wavelength about things like:
- where the group's work fits into Web Architecture
- where does it fit with other groups
- testing, test suites ... generating tests as you come to
- responsibility not just to the group -- working toward consensus
of the whole community
- cost of delaying wider consensus - negotiating your reviews and
really getting in touch with people - versus time to market and specification relevance
- formal objections, i.e. the tricky bits of W3C process
Philippe Le Hégaret, guidebook editor
Initially written by Chris Lilley, Judy Brewer, Daniel Dardailler
Yep, it's on GitHub.