Working Group Publication Requests and Approval

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In response to some questions about W3C process from the past few days, I would like to make available this brief FAQ.

Q. Who makes the decision within a Working Group to request publication of a W3C Working Draft?

A. The Working Group. The W3C process says:

“The Chair MUST record the group's decision to request advancement.”

Working Groups must fulfill certain criteria before requesting publication, and as the document matures towards Recommendation, there are reviews of the publication request to ensure that the criteria for publication have been satisfied.

See section 7.4 of the W3C Process Document for more information about what criteria the Working Group must satisfy in order to advance a document on the Recommendation Track.

Q. Can a group participant stop the group from requesting publication?

A. No.

To promote consensus, the W3C process requires Chairs to ensure that groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor to resolve them, whether these views and objections are expressed by the active participants of the group or by others (e.g., another W3C group, a group in another organization, or the general public).

Furthermore, per the previous question, the Chair may record a decision where there is dissent so that the group may make progress. When the Chair believes that the Group has duly considered the legitimate concerns of dissenters as far as is possible and reasonable, the group should move on.

A dissenter may formally request that the Director consider the dissent as part of evaluating the related decision. This is done by raising a Formal Objection. A record of each Formal Objection must be publicly available.

Furthermore, the expectation is that the Status section of a document should say when there is not consensus (see the Manual of Style and Process document for information about what is useful to include in a Status section).

Q. For most W3C drafts, who approves the Working Group's request to publish?

A. The vast majority of publication requests are not disputed, and they fall clearly within the scope of the Working Group's charter. Although the W3C Director has responsibility for approving publication requests, on a day-to-day basis he delegates (see W3C Team) this responsibility to others on the W3C management Team as described in the public documentation about W3C technical reports. The W3C management Team escalates to the attention of the Director when necessary.

Q. Have there been concerns raised over whether the HTML Working Group should publish some of the documents currently under consideration?

A. Yes. Procedural concerns have been raised about whether some of documents (HTML+RDFa, HTML Microdata, and HTML Canvas 2D Context) fall within the scope of the HTML Working Group charter, or whether another W3C Working Group should develop them. Such concerns appropriately arise from time to time. In the current case, the concerns have been raised consistent with W3C Process, including the requirement to have a public record of concerns available for review. While the concerns are being given due consideration within the community, the W3C Staff expects that if the Working Group requests to publish the relevant documents, the Status sections will clearly note that there is disagreement on the scope question.

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