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Community & Business Groups

FAQ

What is a W3C Community Group?

A W3C Community Group is an open forum, without fees, where Web developers and other stakeholders develop reports, hold discussions, develop test suites, and connect with W3C’s international community of Web experts. Community Groups may produce Reports; these are not standards-track documents but may become input to the standards process. For instance, a Community Group might gather to work on a new technical specification, or convene to have discussions about a tutorial for an existing specification.

What is a W3C Business Group?

A W3C Business Group gives innovators that want to have an impact on the development of the Web in the near-term a vendor-neutral forum for collaborating with like-minded stakeholders, including W3C Members and on-Members. Business Groups may produce Reports; these are not standards-track documents but may become input to the standards process. For instance, a Business Group might gather to compile industry-specific requirements or use cases as input to a W3C Working Group. Or they might develop an ontology of interest to a particular market or region. Business Groups can also provide one or more industries the means to build shared understanding about the application of Web technology to a given sector or across sectors.

How do we get started in a new Community or Business Group?

Once you have proposed a group and it has been launched, here are ways to get your group up and running:

  • Every group must have one or more Chairs. Read how to choose your Chair(s).
  • Review the Community and Business Group process and contributor agreements. These govern how people participate, and the copyright and patent licensing commitments that people (or organizations) make upon joining a group.
  • Review your group’s home page and the infrastructure available to your group to get work done.
  • Your group has a blog (currently WordPress) that you may use to post news. Each group’s posts are also disseminated on the Community and Business Group home page.
  • We recommend that you create a charter that explains clearly what the group will do and why people should join it. Please consult our charter template. The group may publish the charter in its wiki or as a WordPress page, then link to it from the group’s home page. Please contact team-community-process@w3.org to have a link added to the group’s home page.
  • Invite people to join the group; read more about how to join a group.
  • The Group Chair(s) are authorized to publish reports by the group; see how to publish a report.

Once you are up and running, see good practice for running a group.

Questions? Write to team-community-process@w3.org.

Is there a slide set introducing Community and Business Groups?

Yes, see this HTML slide set from September 2011. If you have suggestions for the presentation or would like to improve it, please contact Ian Jacobs on site-comments@w3.org.

What type of group should I choose for my work?

W3C has a number of types of groups (see the comparison of group types). These questions can help you choose the right type:

  • Do you want a W3C standard? If so, choose a Working Group.
  • If you don’t want a standard but do want W3C staff resources dedicated to your group? If so, choose an Interest Group.
  • Do you want to be able to work in non-public space, have some support from W3C staff, and high-bandwidth connectivity with other groups? If so, choose a Business Group.
  • Otherwise, choose a Community Group.

How are Community and Business Groups Similar? Different?

First, some important similarities:

  • Anyone may participate in either.
  • The group can address topics of their choosing.
  • There is no end date.
  • Participants agree to the same IPR policies (except that a Business Group may choose to distribute a report under the W3C Document License)

Some important differences:

  • There is no cost to participate in a Community Group. Non-Member organizations and unaffiliated individuals pay a fee to participate in a Business Group.
  • As a result, Business Groups benefit from additional W3C staff involvement. By default, a Community Group has no staff involvement (other than oversight of the program as a whole).
  • Community Group proceedings are public. Business Groups may choose public or non-public.
  • Business Groups have access to teleconference facilities.

For more details and a comparison with other W3C group types, see the full process comparison.

Do Community and Business Groups replace other group types?

Community and Business Groups replaced Incubator Groups (XGs).

W3C will continue to charter Working, Interest, and Coordination Groups. When deciding whether to create an Interest Group or a Community/Business Group, note that:

  • all Interest Group Charters require Member review (even those that are merely mailing lists); Community and Business Groups do not.
  • Interest Groups can have Team Contacts; Community and Business Groups do not have that level of staff connectivity.
  • Community and Business Groups have a stronger IPR policy than Interest Groups.

Is W3C Membership required to participate in a Community or Business Group?

No. Anyone may participate. For Business Groups, please see the fees for participation by organizations and individuals that are not already W3C Members.

Can CGs and BGs conduct work in a language other than English?

Yes. However, the Community Group Reports must be available in English. Groups are encouraged to provide periodic updates in English for the benefit of the global community.

How can I talk about W3C endorsement of this work?

W3C encourages you to spread the word about the work that you are doing in Community and Business groups, and to encourage participation. It is appropriate to refer to this as “work happening at W3C.” Please do not say or imply that W3C “endorses” the work (as there is no process for gauging endorsement of Community Group work by other W3C groups or the Membership as a whole).

Community Groups and Business Groups themselves do not create Web standards (though their outputs may advance to the standards track in a Working Group). Therefore, please do not refer to Community or Business Group work as “standards work” or “draft standards,” and point out explicitly that these are not W3C Standards/Recommendations. See the related question: Are Community and Business Group reports W3C standards?.

Are Community and Business Group reports W3C standards?

No. However, the W3C Community Contributor License Agreement (CLA) and W3C Community Final Specification Agreement are designed to facilitate transition to the W3C Recommendation Track for standards development. See the related question: How can I talk about W3C endorsement of this work?.

Does the Community Group Process Replace the Recommendation Track?

No. It complements the Recommendation Track and is designed to facilitate transition to the Recommendation Track. W3C is an ISO/JTC1 PAS Submitter and only submits W3C Recommendations (not Community Group Reports or other report types) to ISO.

How do Community Groups make it easier to move to the standards track?

In several ways (existing or planned):

  • Continuity of IPR commitments. The Community Group Agreement is designed to ensure smooth transition of IPR commitments from Community Groups to Working Groups.
  • Continuity of participation. When a Working Group takes up a Community Group Report, non-Member employees may continue their participation in the Working Group for a limited duration while their employer makes the transition to Membership. The individual’s employer must have fulfilled the organizational patent requirements of the Community Group Agreement.
  • Simplified charter creation process. If the mission of a new Working Group is simply to advance a Community Group Report to Recommendation, W3C plans to provide a simplified charter template that is mostly boilerplate, with additional information about resources, deliverables, and milestones. We are also contemplating a streamlined charter review process for documents that make the transition, but this streamlined process does not yet exist. We anticipate that because work will have been published at W3C, less review will be necessary when it transitions to a Working Group.

Can Community or Business Group work accelerate standardization?

The W3C Recommendation track can be characterized (roughly) as a series of requirements for review and implementability. If a Community or Business Group fulfills those criteria, a subsequent Working Group can advance it quickly from draft to standard. The theoretical “fast track” would be for a Working Group to publish a Last Call Draft (as the first Working Draft), process issues, then request to advance to Proposed Recommendation directly (if implementation criteria have already been satisfied).

There are other ways for Community and Business Groups to accelerate standardization. Because there are fewer barriers to participation it should be easier to convene the right stakeholders at the table right from the start (and to grow or change as needed). This makes it easy, for example, to identify the “right” requirements up front, which helps ensure that a future standard is more quickly and widely adopted.

Is there a suggestion box for Community and Business Groups?

Yes. There are several ways you can share your suggestions:

  • For small suggestions about infrastructure improvements or fixes, please send email to site-comments@w3.org (public archive).
  • For larger suggestions about the program as a whole or new infrastructure features, please contact the Community Council. The Council is a group of people (including W3C staff and non-staff) that works publicly to improve Community and Business Groups. We invite discussion within that group, and anyone may join the Community Council.

How do I join a group?

  1. Get a W3C account (if you don’t have one).
  2. Push the “Join” button for any current group. If you are not logged in, you will be prompted to log in. If you already have an account but we don’t know your affiliation (e.g., your employer) we will prompt you to update your account.

What you see after pushing the Join button depends on the affiliation you have declared in your user account. This is because joining a group involves agreeing to the W3C Community Contributor License Agreement (CLA). Below we describe the join process for different affiliations.

Please remember that for Community Groups, there is no fee for anyone. There are fees for participation in a Business Group by non- W3C Members.

If you work for a W3C Member

If you work for a W3C Member:

  • If you are a Member Advisory Committee Representative, you may join a current group immediately on behalf of your organization. After joining, you may nominate others from your organization to participate in the group.
  • If you are otherwise an employee of a W3C Member, you may push a button that sends a request to your Advisory Committee Representative to join a current group on behalf of your organization. You do not join the group directly yourself. You will be informed if your Advisory Committee Representative accepts (or declines) to join the group.

If you work for a non-Member organization

  • If you are affiliated with a non-Member organization, you may join a current group immediately on behalf of the organization, which we recommend in most cases.
  • Or, you may request to participate without representing your affiliated organization, but those requests are subject to approval at the discretion of the W3C Staff. We attempt to address requests within one business day. W3C publishes guidelines for evaluating individual requests to participate in a group.

Other Affiliations

  • If you are affiliated with the W3C Staff, you may join immediately as an individual.
  • If you have no affiliation with any organization, you may join immediately as an individual.

How do I propose a group?

  1. Get a W3C account (if you don’t have one).
  2. Push the Create a Community Group button. If you are not logged in, you will be prompted to log in.
  3. Enter a name, description, and short name for the group. Please read the instructions on that page, especially about syntax restrictions for short names. For information on the group description, see When I propose a Community or Business Group, what should I say in the description?

If you are new to the W3C Community, your proposal is evaluated by the W3C staff before being made public. This review happens within three business days, but may take longer depending on staff availability. The staff may contact you with suggestions to enhance the description, or to consider engaging with an existing group rather than creating a new one. The W3C staff is responsible for advancing the new group to “Proposed” or rejecting spammy proposals.

Proposals from existing W3C Community members are announced as “Proposed” without staff review. However, the W3C staff may contact the person who proposed the group to discuss the description.

All proposed groups are listed on the proposed groups page. The three most recent proposed groups are displayed on the Community Group home page. The person who proposed the group receives an email notification that the proposal is now available, as well as some information about next steps.

Once five people push the button to show their support for the group, W3C will create the infrastructure and announce the launch of the group. All launched (and not yet closed) groups appear on the current groups page. The three most recent launched groups are displayed on the Community Group home page. All people who supported the group receive an email announcing the launch; those emails are archived at public-council@w3.org. Finally, a call for participation in the new group is created as the first blog post on the group’s home page.

Note: After support from the fifth person, please expect one business day before the W3C launches the group.

When I propose a Community or Business Group, what should I say in the description?

To encourage participation, a Community or Business Group description should be short, but include enough information to enable people to understand the purpose of the group and what they will do. We recommend including the following information in the group description:

  • The group’s mission. For example, the first sentence might begin: “The mission of this group is to ….”
  • The group’s primary activity. In particular, it is important to indicate whether the group will publish reports. If, on the other hand, the group will primarily be a discussion group, or will produce deliverables that are not reports (e.g., code, tests, use cases, etc.), please state that clearly.
  • Who should participate, that is desired skills and expertise.
  • Whether the group will publish one or more Specifications. If the group plans to publish Specifications, please include the sentence “This group may publish Specifications.” If the group does not plan to publish Specifications, this will make it easier for people to join the group (as there will be no patent licensing commitments). In this case, please include the following sentence in the description: “This group will not publish Specifications.”

The description may include limited HTML markup (including headers, paragraphs, lists, and links).

To avoid long descriptions, some groups provide details about their scope of work, deliverables, and operations in a separate document that is called a charter. We recommend using the Community Group charter template; see how to get started in a new group for more information.

How do I change a Community or Business Group description?

To change a group’s description at any time (even after the launch of the group), send a request to team-community-process@w3.org.

How do I support creation of a group?

  1. Get a W3C account (if you don’t have one).
  2. Push the “Support group” button for the group you wish to support. If you are not logged in, you will be prompted to log in.

Whenever you are logged in, you can see which groups you have already supported in the list of proposed groups.

Can an individual who works for a W3C Member join a Community or Business Group?

Only the Advisory Committee Representative of a Member organization may join a group (or approve requests to join), and does so on behalf of the organization. Our infrastructure makes it easy for other Member employees to send requests to their Advisory Committee Representative to ask them to join a group.

Are there invited experts in Community Groups or Business Groups?

No.

Can someone participating in a multi-partner research project join a Community or Business Group?

Yes. The primary question from W3C’s perspective is: who controls the patent and copyrights to contributed materials? If the project controls the rights, W3C will ask that a representative who has the authority to sign the CLA on behalf of the project join the group.

How are Business Group staff liaisons chosen?

While Business Groups do not have full-time staff contacts, W3C management does assign a staff liaison to help facilitate the work of the group. The liaison shares expertise about W3C and helps connect the group chair(s) with chairs from other groups. The liaison is not generally a full-time group participant. For more information about the role of the team liaison, and to identify the liaison for a particular group, please contact Alan Bird <abird @w3.org>.

Can I interact with a group without joining?

Yes. You do not need to join the group if you only intend to follow the group’s work or engage in discussions without making material contributions; you may use the public mailing lists for those purposes. However, if you plan to contribute materially to the development of a report, W3C requires that you participate under the CLA.

Can I subscribe to a group’s mailing list without joining the group?

Yes. From the Group’s homepage, look for the “Mailing List” menu on the left-hand side. Follow the link to the home page for the list that interests you. On that page, select “subscribe to this list.”

Is there a code of conduct for CG/BG participants?

Can the Chair force a participant to leave the group?

No. However the Community Development Lead is empowered to do so; see the participation policies.

Can Community and Business Groups hold meetings?

Yes, both face-to-face and teleconferences.

For teleconferences, Business Groups have access to W3C teleconference services. Community Groups may use external teleconference services.

How do we close a group and what happens?

To close a group, send a request to team-community-process@w3.org.

When a group is closed, the following happens automatically:

  • The list of participants is emptied and people can no longer join the group.
  • The group’s home page indicates that it has been closed and the date of closure.
  • The group appears in the list of past groups.

By default, we do nothing to the group’s home page (blog), mailing lists, and wiki. However, we recommend:

  • Updating the group’s home page description to let people know where to turn (e.g., that work has moved to a W3C Working Group, etc.). The group can augment this communication with a blog post as well.
  • Closing mailing lists that will no longer be used. Please write to sysreq@w3.org to request that a mailing list be closed, which means that content is archived but people can send no new mail to the list.

Where is the full process for creation and operation of groups described?

See the Community and Business Group Process, which in turn links to the IPR Agreements.

What is the plan to formalize the Community Group and Business Group program?

We expect the W3C Advisory Board to discuss what, if any, formalization is required (e.g., integration into the W3C Process Document, additional legal discussion, etc.).

How do we publish a report?

First, ensure that the report can be accessed via a URL. If not a final report, it may be assigned a URL using the “page” feature of the group’s WordPress instance, or their wiki, or github. If the report is a final report, the report must be copied to w3.org. For questions on how to copy a report to w3.org, please write team-community-process@w3.org.

The editor ensures that the report follows a small set of requirements. The requirements page provides information about styles, copyright, etc.

The group must have a Chair in order to register and announce the publication; see how to choose a Chair. The Chair registers and announces the report. When the Chair is logged in, on the group’s home page in the section on Reports (near the top) Chairs will find a link to a page to publish reports. The page for publishing allows Chairs to announce new drafts or to advance existing drafts to “final” status. The following happens when the Chair “publishes” a report:

  • The report is added to the list of reports for the group and appears on both the group’s home page and on the global Reports page.
  • The system announces the publication on the group’s blog. This announcement also appears on the Community and Business Group home page and is sent as an email to the group’s public list.
  • In the case of a Final Report, the announcement invites people to make commitments under the Final Specification Agreement (FSA). For each final report there is a page that lists commitments as well as group participants that have not yet made a commitment. On that commitments page there is a button for people to make a commitment under the FSA.

Is there a style for Community and Business Group Reports?

For information on style sheets, see the report requirements.

We developed a spec on github and want to bring it to a CG. How do we do that?

These are the recommended steps for first integrating a report developed outside of a CG into a group:

  • Send a copy of the document to the group’s “contrib” list. This allows people to refer to an unchanging text.
  • Have all the contributors to the text send follow-up emails to the group’s contrib list stating that they agree to the terms of the CLA for the entire text of the report. These commitments should be made on behalf of organizations rather than just individuals. If an organization has made a significant contribution to a report but does not agree to the terms of the CLA, this is likely to hinder the progress of the report by raising red flags for implementers. When W3C Members have contributed to a report, their Advisory Committee Representatives should send the commitment emails to the contrib list.
  • Ensure that the document in the github repository satisfies the Community Group Report Requirements.
  • Publish the document on the Community Group site. Group Chairs are authorized to publish, and log in to do so. Use the github URI to identify the document being published; this allows CG site users to find the latest version as the document evolves.

Can I use W3C namespaces in our Report?

Yes, one can use XML namespaces and RDF namespaces in Community Group Reports. Use http://www.w3.org/ns/shortname (where the shortname is the one used for your group, or based on it). For more information about W3C’s policy regarding these types of namespaces see URIs for W3C Namespaces.

Note: The term “namespace” here does not refer to the URL of the Community Group Report itself; see how to publish a report for information about report URLs.

Does W3C register media types in the IANA registry for CGs/BGs?

W3C does not register media types in the W3C tree of the IANA registry for CG/BG reports. W3C does have a process for registering media types for Working Group Recommendations. If you have any questions about media type registration, please write to team-community-process@w3.org.

Is there a tool to track report changes?

Groups use different tools to publish reports. If WordPress or the group’s wiki are used, they offer revision history mechanisms to track changes.

W3C also has an online HTML diff tool.

What tools / infrastructure is available to groups?

How do we choose a Chair?

Participants choose their own chairs. Please see the recommended approach for choosing chairs.

Once chairs have been chosen anyone in the group (or the W3C staff) can log in and record that information for the group; for details see the tool to identify group chairs.

Can a Community Group use its own infrastructure not hosted by W3C?

For some actions, yes. W3C infrastructure is used to record who joins or leaves a group. A Community Group may use its own infrastructure to host communications, as long as those communications are public and archived permanently. The recommended way to accomplish this is to use a W3C archived mailing list in conjunction with the offsite system.

Draft reports may be published anywhere, although final reports are published on W3C’s site.

How do I report a bug or request a feature?

Please send comments to site-comments@w3.org. See our bug tracker.

How do I log in and log out?

W3C uses HTTP-based authentication for most pages on its site. This means that when you attempt to access a resource that requires a user name and password, you are prompted. Thereafter you are logged in. But there is no log out procedure for HTTP-based authentication.

We also use some tools (blogs, wikis) that have their own login processes that are based on cookies. These tools have log in and log out procedures. The username and passwords are the same as for other pages.

I am already an Invited Expert in a Working Group. Why do I need to update my account?

In W3C Working Groups, people not affiliated with a W3C Member need to be approved as “Invited Experts” in order to participate. For most Working Groups, the staff evaluates each such request, and Chair approval is required as well.

Prior to Community Groups, W3C did not maintain affiliation information for Invited Experts; those accounts are simply noted as being non-Member accounts. However, for Community Groups, in the interest of transparency about the source of contributions to a Report, we are requiring people with Invited Expert accounts to update their affiliation information. There may be a delay of at most 1 day before your request is processed by W3C staff.

Once you have recorded your affiliation information (or that you have no employment affiliation with any organization), you may join Community and Business Groups.

I am in a Community Group. The organization I work for becomes a W3C Member. What happens?

If you are participating in a group and are affiliated with an organization that becomes a W3C Member:

  • W3C updates your account to record your affiliation with a W3C Member.
  • This automatically ends your participation in the Community Group. We do this because changes in employment change representation under the Contributor Agreement (CLA).
  • Your (now Member) organization is encouraged to rejoin the group. For W3C Members, the Advisory Committee Representative is the only person authorized to join a Community Group. After joining, the Advisory Committee Representative nominates you as a participant.

Note: Some of these actions happen automatically, others manually. W3C expects to streamline the process of organization transitions and their impact on participants.

How do I know which groups I am in?

Your user account includes the list of all W3C groups in which you are participating.

Help, I can’t log in!

People have a “W3C account” which is then used to create a “WordPress account”. We have limited (LDAP) synchronization between the accounts (but plan to improve our LDAP sync). As a result, there are a small number of issues that can occur if the accounts are not in sync:

  • You cannot log in to WordPress and an error message indicates that there is already an account with your email address. Solution: W3C has to update your email address in your WordPress account.

Help, I can’t unsubscribe from a group’s list!

When you join a group, you are automatically subscribed to the group’s list(s). The way our lists are currently configured for these groups, you cannot unsubscribe from the list. However, if you leave the group, you are automatically unsubscribed. To leave a group, visit the group’s home page; there is a “leave” button on the right side.

How do I add a photo to my profile?

Update your photo; you will be prompted to log in if you have not done so already.

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