First, W3M chooses a Team Contact to manage the group creation process.
The Process Document includes a section on Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development, which includes a requirement to alert the Advisory Committee when work begins on a charter for a new group. See also tips for getting to Recommendation faster and The QA Handbook, which discusses process and operational aspects of certain quality assurance practices of W3C's Working Groups,
For existing groups, the Chair and Team Contact should work with the WG to create a new charter and develop rationale as to why the change is necessary. This reason need not be overly formal. For instance, it may be no more complex than, "we need three more months to complete our deliverable commitments and are fairly certain we can complete them within those three months." If the Working Group or the Chair proposes changes to the charter, they should send them to the Team Contact, who should see that the request is reviewed by the Project and Strategy Leads in a timely manner.
Note: Team Contacts should take caution when creating a new charter by copying an old one, especially in light of adoption of the W3C Patent Policy. Please review the list of charter requirements to ensure that your charter is complete (e.g., it includes a duration for the group).
Timeline: For existing groups, this takes no time. For new groups, it may take one month or more for W3M to start dedicating resources.
W3C Process (section "Working Group and Interest Group Charter Development") requires that the Team notify the Advisory Committee when a charter for a new Working Group or Interest Group is in development. The exact timing of the advance notice may vary from charter to charter. In practice, if the advance notice would precede the formal call for review by only a short delay, we skip the advance notice; see the Advance Notice for Charter template
The Team should consult How to Send Advance Notice of Work to the Advisory Committee for more information.
Timeline: This takes a week at most.
The Team Contact works with the Strategy Lead to draft a provisional charter. See the Charter template and W3C Process Document for the list of charter requirements. The Team Contact may wish to share drafts of the provisional charter with a candidate Chair (if one exists), a relevant interest group or interested community of W3C members prior to Member review.
Timeline: due to the discussion needing to happen with the community and the need for horizontal review, this takes 1.5 to 4 months for existing groups.
Each Working Group charter must include a section related to the Patent Policy.
If a Working Group is chartered to produce Recommendations covered by the W3C Patent Policy, the section title must be "Patent Policy" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:
This Working Group operates under the <a href="https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy/">W3C Patent Policy</a> (Version of 15 September 2020). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.
Add the following Note when applicable:
Note: All of the deliverables of this Working Group are informative-only. Per section 8.3 of the W3C Patent Policy, since no provisions in these deliverables constitute "architectural [or] interoperability requirements," participants in this Working Group have no licensing obligations associated with any of these chartered deliverables.
In the list of of a Working Group's deliverables, the Charter must clearly indicate which documents are expected to become Recommendations with associated licensing obligations as described by the W3C Patent Policy. Note: the W3C Process provides a precise list of requirements when listing deliverables on the Recommendation track.
If a Working Group is chartered under the W3C Patent Policy but is not chartered to produce Recommendations covered by the policy, the section title must be "Patent Disclosures" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:
The [Name] Working Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on [Topic]. This Working Group is not chartered to produce Recommendations with associated licensing obligations as described by the W3C Patent Policy. W3C reminds Working Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While this Working Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Working Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from other Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.
Each Interest Group charter must include a section related to the Patent Policy. For all Interest Groups, the section title must be "Patent Disclosures" and the section must include the following boilerplate text:
The [Name] Interest Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on [Topic]. W3C reminds Interest Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Interest Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Interest Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.
If the Interest Group's proceedings are public, add the following sentence:
Please note that the proceedings of this Interest Group (mailing list archives, minutes, etc.) are publicly visible.
Each Working Group must have a public page for tracking patent disclosures and exclusions regarding specifications produced by the Working Group. The disclosure mechanics must not appear in the charter since they are likely to change over time (as we begin to automate more of this process). The Charter MAY include a link to a disclosure page or refer to the Working Group home page, which must include a link to the disclosure page. For instance, adding to one of the above patent disclosure paragraphs:
For information about patent disclosures or exclusions regarding specifications produced by this Working Group, please refer to the Working Group home page.
See Guidelines for Linking to Patent Policy Disclosure Pages (notably for information about linking to IPP, the system for management of groups under the patent policy).
Identification of horizontal dependencies should follow guidance under Section 5.2.6, 8th bullet, of the W3C Process.
There are key characteristics that are typically required (in different measure, and per section 184.108.40.206 Wide Review of the Process Document) of all specifications and they are therefore called “horizontal” characteristics. As of today, the identified horizontal characteristics are: accessibility, internationalization, mobility, device independence, privacy, security, and technical architecture principles. For each of these characteristics, W3M will designate which team members have expertise to help all team contacts ensure the characteristics are achieved.
During the charter creation or recharter process, the Team Contact needs to involve at least one expert for each horizontal characteristic to ensure that the Charter adequately describes any dependencies it might have relative to horizontal characteristics. To do so, the Team Contact opens a Chartering issue in the Strategy Repo. Ideally, this should be done early in Charter development to avoid undue delays. The Team Contact adds the Horizontal review requested label to the issue to formally request review. Team Contacts should negotiate the timing of reviews early in the chartering process.
W3M must ensure that there are sufficient experts on staff so that it generally does not take more than two weeks to get a response, although in most cases it is beneficial for the experts to have more time to provide input.
Different Working Groups are chartered with different levels of specificity: some groups are accompanied by a draft list of requirements or a draft spec. However, it is not the purpose of the chartering to review these drafts for horizontal characteristics – ultimately that is achieved through the normal W3C Process. So in all cases, the purpose here is to ensure that dependencies are identified; but there is no thorough review of the spec.
Some of the key groups where there could be dependencies include:
When the Charter is brought to W3M, the Team Contact should state which horizontal experts approved that the dependencies were appropriately documented based on the current understanding of the work. If when the Team Contact engaged experts there were insufficient experts available for timely review, then the Team Contact can move ahead with the charter nevertheless, and should report this to W3M. W3M will monitor whether particular horizontal activities are insufficiently resourced, leading to regular delays on charter reviews.
W3M approval of a charter is required unless there are no substantive changes from a previously approved charter.
The W3M process for approving new Charters is described in the (Team-only) documentation on W3M evaluation of Proposed Charter and AC Reviews. The Strategy or Project Lead (or delegate) informs the W3C Communications Team of W3M approval by sending email to email@example.com.
Timeline: this takes 2 weeks.
Note: Is the Group aware that its charter is being extended? Please inform the group before discussion within W3M.
W3M resolved to adopt the Policy on W3C Group Charter End Dates, effective 18 June 2015.
If W3M resolves to extend a charter, the Strategy or Project Lead (or delegate) sends e-mail to the W3C Communications Team in the form of an extension announcement; see the charter extension template.
The W3C Communications Team sends extension announcements to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc's email@example.com. It is a good practice to forward the extension announcement to the public list of the group, and to follow-up on public-new-work.
The W3C Communications Team updates the list of groups accordingly.
Per section 5.2.3 of the W3C Process, The Director must solicit Advisory Committee review of every new or substantively modified Working Group or Interest Group charter. The Director is not required to solicit Advisory Committee review prior to a charter extension or for minor changes. The review period must be at least 28 days. Any Advisory Committee representative may request an extended review period of any new or substantively modified Working Group charter, if submitted with a Member’s comments in response to the Call for Review (see extension template). Upon receipt of any such request, the Director must ensure that the Call for Participation for the Working Group occurs at least 60 days after the Call for Review of the charter.
Timeline: this takes 5 weeks minimum. Formal objections to a charter will add more time.
Note: Team Contacts should ensure that their Working Group participants are aware of the review.
The Team Contact:
The W3C Communications Team encourages the Team Contact to include in the request a draft Call for Review, created by using this template (although the URI to the questionnaire may not yet exist).
The W3C Communications Team (or the motivated Team Contact) builds a Call for Review questionnaire. The URI for the questionnaire is added to the Call for Review announcement to members. In case of renewal of an existing charter, it is also useful to include a diff (You may wish to use the HTML diff tool) between current and proposed charters in the Call for Review questionnaire.
Once the Head of W3C Communications (or explicit delegate) has approved the Call for Review and the questionnaire, the W3C Communications Team:
Note: Starting in January 2007, W3C makes all charters public during Advisory Committee review.
W3M evaluation of the review results proceeds the same way as W3M evaluation of Review Results.
Beginning in July 2014, the Director instituted an experimental practice when it comes to approving Working Group Charters.
Generally, the Director will expect to receive reviews for Charter proposals from at least 5% of the Membership, and will generally not approve Charters without a margin of favorable reviews equal to 5% of the Membership. Additionally, the Director will continue to consider the number of declarations of intent to participate or implement the output of the Working Group.
Given the diversity of work underway in the Consortium, including groups that focus on horizontal reviews (e.g. accessibility, security, and internationalization), as well as technologies that are initially focused on by some segment of the Web's stakeholders, there are times where exceptions to this practice may be warranted. In those cases, the Director will document reasons why the exception is warranted.
Very minor changes may be made in place to a charter. If there are only very minor changes to a charter resulting from the review, the (future) Director's decision includes the original charter URI and an explanation of the changes and their rationale.
If substantive changes are proposed in response to charter review, Team must send the charter with proposed changes, the HTML diff, and an explanation of the changes and their rationale to all who reviewed the charter, copying the firstname.lastname@example.org member-archived mailing list, accompanied by a request for response (with a deadline of a minimum one week response time) if reviewers have concerns or if the changes would alter their reviews. If the work continues or derives from an existing Group or community effort, Team should also send the HTML diff and a public rationale to that Group or community. These communications should note that the Director has not yet approved the charter.
If anyone expresses new concern in response to the re-review, Team may attempt to resolve the concern (with re-review), formally open a new AC charter review, or the Director may treat it as an objection and overrule it.
If there are substantive changes, before any announcement, the staff:
<p class="todo">This charter has been replaced by <a>[a newer version]</a>.</p>
Per section 5.2.3 of the W3C Process, any Advisory Committee representative may request an extended review period of any new or substantively modified Working Group charter, if submitted with a Member’s comments in response to the Call for Review. Upon receipt of any such request, the Director must ensure that the Call for Participation for the Working Group occurs at least 60 days after the Call for Review of the charter.
Please ensure that the following are done and you have documentation before requesting to announce a group:
All Working Groups and Interest Groups appear in their respective group list and have a public list of participants (except for Interest Groups that are not managed by IPP).
The W3C Communications Team should try to minimize the number of messages sent to the Advisory Committee, while ensuring that each message is clear. In general, the W3C Communications Team sends one email combining the group approval (Director's Decision) and the call for participation.
Timeline: this takes a week at most.
The Team contact sends a draft announcement (combing Director's Decision and Call for Participation) to the W3C Communications Team (email@example.com) (using the template as a starting point, see sample announcement). The announcement must indicate:
It is useful to include notice of the 45 day timeframe in case when existing participants of the Group under the previous charter need to re-join the group because a charter has new deliverables in-scope.
In order to avoid confusion, it's also useful to state that existing participants under the previous charter are not required to leave/re-join the group, when the new charter doesn't have new deliverables involving new patent commitment.
Note: Per the 2021-01-13 W3M resolution (team-only), the calls for participation should include guidance to consider diversity (available from the template):
The announcement must also indicate when appropriate:
The Head of W3C Communications (or explicit delegate) must approve the Director's Decision and Call for Participation before the W3C Communications Team sends it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The W3C Communications Team SHOULD announce the Director's decision within two weeks after the end of the AC review (or send an email setting new expectations). An announcement is made if the proposal is approved or rejected.
If the group is approved, it is a good practice that the W3C Communications Team also:
If the group is rejected, it is a good practice that the W3C Communications Team follows-up on the Advance Notice in public-new-work to close the loop for the public record.
After sending the Director's Decision and Call for Participation:
Note: When we recharter a Working Group and the charter scope has changed, we enter the CFP into the Group DB, which triggers messages to the group participants that they must rejoin. If the new charter is not substantively different, do not register the new CFP.
Note: Team Contacts with questions about how an Invited Expert joins a group should consult the Team Policy for Invited Experts.
Depending on the complexity of the charter, the time to draft and get a charter approved by the W3C Director may vary greatly. Each section above gives expectation on how long it takes. This section gives guidance on how to manage the overall timeline.