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This document enumerates various questions and considerations, best practices and recommendations regarding evaluating a proposal to start a new Working Group at the W3C.

Feedback regarding this document is encouraged, preferably by directly editing this document or by sending email to (archive) with a Subject: prefix of [NewWGProposals].


Problem Statement

  • Creating a new Working Group (WG) is expensive in terms of W3C Staff resources, W3C Member resources and the Public (for example reviewing and implementing the group's spec). A new group can also have an associated opportunity cost because starting a new group generally means W3C staff participation in some other activity will need to be reduced/diverted.
  • If a new WG proposal does not include a relatively clear statement about how approving the proposal could affect Staff resources, it appears the Consortium has unlimited resources to start new WGs.
  • Adding work to an existing group instead of starting a new group has a certain cost, such as adding to the workload of the group, and expanding the IPR commitment required of group members.

Questions and Considerations

  • Interoperability Problem: what interoperability problems and issues exist today that require standardization to help solve?
  • Implementation status: what is the current implementation status of the spec(s)? What is the level of implementation commitment if the WG is approved?
  • Spec status: what is the status of the spec(s)? Is the scope of the spec broad and deep enough such that Members wanting to participate in the proposed work can objectively evaluate the IP commitment that would be required ?
  • Provenance of spec contributions: who contributed to the spec(s)? Where is a record of the spec contributions?
  • Patent commitments: what is the status of the patent commitments from the spec's contributors?
  • Community support: who supports the proposal now? Which Members will commit to participate in the new WG if it is created?
  • Testing: what is the status of testing resources? What is the level of commitment for creating and maintaining tests. What is the commitment for producing interoperability data?
  • Spec Editing: what is the level of commitment for spec editing?
  • Related work in W3C: what (if any) groups in W3C are doing related work? Can the proposal be positioned as a "relatively natural extension" of an existing WG and what efforts have been made to discuss the proposed work with the existing WG?
  • Relevant SSOs: if any other Standards Setting Organization(s) is doing related work, identify the group and the status of their work.

Best Practices

  • If the scope of the proposed WG is (closely) related to an existing WG, proponents should work with the existing group to try to determine if there is a way for the existing group to formally add the new spec(s) to its charter.
  • Announce proposals for a new Working Group or Interest Group on the public-new-work mail list, preferably include a link to the group's draft charter.
  • If there is an IPR objection to a proposal to expand an existing Working Group's charter, call the bluff and see if the objecting party will withdraw from the Working Group, rather than automatically negotiating to create a new Working Group.


  • Create a general framework to help Members and Staff transparently and consistently evaluate new WG proposals.
  • Proposals for new WGs should include responses to the Questions and Considerations above.
  • A proposal for a new WG must include a clear statement of the affect the proposal would have on Staff resources.