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The purpose of this wiki is to document the HTML WG's Real Work Modes including: Participation and Communication, Meetings, Consensus, Mail List usage, links to important resources, etc.

Note the WG's Charter formally defines the general framework of the group's working mode. In all cases, the Charter and/or the W3C Process Document overrides the information in this wiki. Nevertheless, this wiki contains additional information about how the group really works and as such, this information may be particularly useful to new members of the WG.

This document is a Living Document and as such will change. Members of the WG are encouraged to edit (e.g. to update, correct, etc.) the information in this document.

Participation and Communication

The HTML WG's formal Participation and Communication models are documented in the Participation and Communications sections of its Charter, respectively.

Strictly speaking, only the Chairs and Editors have firm participation requirements. However, all WG members are strongly encouraged to participate in all of the specifications in progress.

A WG member may participate in various ways including:

Participation from the Public (i.e. non group members), via our Public mail lists is also welcome, provided comments, contributions, etc. are consistent with the W3C Patent Policy and the Working group's Discussion Guidelines. The group uses the following mail lists:

Additionally, the following HTML WG Topic Mailing Lists are provided:

The htmlwg Twitter account is used to make public announcements about the group's Specifications.

The Technical Reports Process (What is an Editor's Draft?)

The W3C Process Document formally defines the Technical Report Process this group follows.

This group uses Editor's Drafts (ED) which, as the name indicates, is simply the latest version of a specification an Editor maintains. An ED should be thought of as the tip of the tree i.e. a work in progress that may change at any point in time.

EDs are not formal publications by the W3C and as such, the W3C Process Document does not explicitly define their requirements (f.ex. there are no specific rules for references or style).

Those with a vested interest in a specification e.g. implementers and application developers, should use a spec's Editor's Draft and not a dated version of the ED that was published as a Working Draft in the W3C's Technical Reports repository.

The W3C Process Document defines a so-called Publication "Heart Beat" Requirement that states a WG should publish each spec as a Technical Report (TR) every 3 months. Such documents do not require the consensus of the working group to be published. Work that fails to consistently produce heartbeat documents without a suitable rationale be published as a Note. One reason for this to occur is when the active editor count for the document drops to zero.


To start work on a extension specification requires a proposal. Modularity is encouraged. Proposal need to suggest one or more editors, be able to identify independent support, be within the scope of the working group. For best results, the proposal should identify a draft schedule and thoughts towards what exit criteria should be used. Proposals are adopted and published as a FPWD via a Call for Consensus.

Editors in this Working Group may draw from a number of sources (e.g., other specifications, bug reports, and even discussions both on W3C mailing lists and elsewhere) and have wide freedom to update (add, change, delete) text in Editor's Drafts without prior explicit consensus from the group. This method is referred to as Edit First and Review Later and is contrary to other WGs that follow a Review First and Edit Later editing model. Despite this policy, when a substantive change is made to a specification (for example, adding or removing a feature, creating a new willful violation, adding a normative reference, etc.), Editors are expected to create a paper trail for the change by creating a bug report and/or notifying the appropriate e-mail list.

Additionally, the W3C has asked the editors of the HTML specification to track differences with the WHATWG HTML document. All differences are to have a description or link to the rationale for the divergence. Editors of documents that have an independent existence outside of the working group SHOULD strive, within reason and only so far as it is applicable, to minimise divergence with the original document.

Does this editing work mode mean WG members' input is not taken into account? No. Editors are expected to consider all inputs and to reflect that input in the Editor's Drafts.

Note: before the WG formally publishes a specification as a First Public Working Draft, Last Call Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation or Proposed Recommendation, (i.e. a copy of the spec is placed in the Technical Reports repository), WG members will be asked if there is consensus to publish and advance the specification (as described in this document's Call for Consensus section).

New editors to existing documents are appointed by the chairs. Editors may be removed by the chairs when they aren't being responsive to the group or observing consensus.

Editors are expected to produce quarterly heartbeat documents. Such documents do not require the consensus of the working group to be published. Work that fails to consistently produce heartbeat documents without an acceptable rationale will be published as a Working Group Note. One reason for this to occur is when the active editor count for the document drops to zero.

Documents may also involuntarily (as in: over the wishes of the editors for that document) be published as Note by a 3/4 majority vote cast by members of the working group.

Related resource:

  • WebApps' SpecEditing wiki includes information about spec editing, including Editor roles and responsibilities.

Bugs, Issues and Actions

The WG uses Tracker to record and track Actions. Additionally, there are trackers for the A11y and media task forces.

The WG has no single mechanism to record and track bugs and issues. However, the recommended and preferred mechanism is to use W3C's Bugzilla. Github Issues may be used for the specs that use Github..

(Tracker does have a nice feature that it scans all of the group's mail lists for the patterns "ISSUE-NNN" and "ACTION-NNN" (where NNN is an issue or action number). If that pattern is found, the URI of the e-mail in mail list archive will automatically be included in the database record for that issue or action.)


Patent Policy

The WG's Charter defines the Patent Policy for this group:

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). 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.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

See the W3C Patent Policy FAQ titled How should Working Groups handle contributions from non-participants (e.g., meeting guests or on public lists)? for more information about contributions from non-WG participants.

Meetings? What Meetings?

Most of the WG's specification work progresses without formal meetings. Instead, all decisions are made via the group's various mail lists, IRC and Bug databases.

The consortium usually has an annual All Working Group f2f meeting week (aka TPAC) around October and November and this group typically has a f2f meeting during that week. A second annual F2F is generally conducted around April or May.

Consensus and Call for Consensus

Consensus is a very important part of the W3C process and is formally codified in the Process Document as follows:

Consensus is a core value of the W3C. 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).

Since most of the WG's work is done without formal meetings, the group uses a Call for Consensus (aka CfC) mechanism (typically email) to formally gather input on a specific question such as Is spec X ready to publish as a Last Call Working Draft?. When a CfC is issued, an explicit response from WG members is preferred and note that the lack of a response will always be considered assent i.e. agreement with the proposal.

Most CfCs are conducted on the public-html-admin mail list and the comment period is typically one week.

The A11y and Media Task Forces also use Calls for Consensus. For calls that require attention by both a Task Force and the Working Group as a whole, generally the Call for Consensus at the Task Force level precede the one done at the Working Group level.

Mail List Policy, Usage, Etiquette, etc.

The Consortium has formal Mail List policies and procedures yet also accommodates some flexibility on how mail lists are used:

Each W3C mailing list has its own policies regarding who may post to the list. Those subscribed to each list are generally able to post directly to the list without delay; those who are not may be subject to manual moderation (at least the first time they post.)

See W3C Mailing List and Archive Info and W3C Guidelines for Email Attachment Formats for more information.

The group's members appreciate and encourage frank technical discussions on our mail lists but all discussions must be done in a respectful manner. Please note this respect requirement is codified in the Process Document via the following participation criteria "Social competence in one's role". Additionally, see Positive Work Environment Task Force and if you did not attend Kindergarten, we expect our list participants to adhere to the basic principles in All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

We expect our mail list participants to adhere to the Working Group's Discussion Guidelines.

We also suggest that our mail list participants to observe the following email etiquette:

  • Messages should be encoded using plain text. Anything in rich text will be lost by the mail list archives and appear poorly formatted to many readers before they get that far.
  • Messages should not use top-posting. See the WHATWG's top-posting guidelines for more information and this email from Tobie Langel for information about top-posting and Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Subjects should be prefaced with the name of the spec (for example: [DOM4] Blah, Blah, Blah)
  • When you reply to a message, please use ">" as your quotation character.
  • Do not prefix your content with something like "[myname]". Your content will be visible to everyone because it will *not* be prefixed by the quotation character (">").
  • Do not write at the top "comments inline". People will know your comments are inline.
  • Do strip quoted text which is not relevant to your reply.
  • Do not write in ALL CAPS. It is considered bad form. If you need to _underscore_ something, you can do so as such, if you wanted to *strengthen* something you can similarly, and if you want to provide a certain /italic/ style, you may do that as well.
  • Your messages are archived. If you need to include links within your message, please use [x] notation inline, and include the relevant links at the end of the message.
  • Attachments must follow the W3C Guidelines for Email Attachment Formats, in particular:
    • Avoid unnecessary email attachments.
    • Use an attachment only when it is likely to benefit to recipients. Otherwise, place the information (in plain text format) in the body of your message.
    • If an attachment is necessary, avoid formats that are virus prone, proprietary or platform dependent. For example, whenever possible you should use HTML instead of MS Word, PowerPoint or PDF.
    • Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Off-Topic Discussion Policy

The WG's mail lists are only to be used for technical discussions of the group's specifications and related resources such as test cases.

Discussions related to general W3C-wide processes and policies are not appropriate for any of the WG's mail lists and as such, discussions on those subjects are considered "off-topic".

Here is a list of documents and topics that are explicitly off-topic for the WG's mail lists, including one or more appropriate discussion forums that may be used:

We expect everyone using HTML WG's mail lists to please respect this policy.


The group uses a number of channels on the W3C's IRC system (; port 6667):

  • #html-wg - for Public technical discussions; this channel is continuously logged/archive
  • #html-a11y - for discussion related to accessibility.
  • #html-media - for discussions related to the media task force.
  • #testing - for discussions related to the testing effort.

An HTML interface to the W3C's IRC system is available at See Meeting Resources for more information about the W3C's IRC system.


The Test Task Force is managing the W3C HTML5 test suite effort.


Git, Mercurial and CVS

Git resources:

Mercurial resources:

CVS resources and its usage in the W3C:

Links to Group Resources

Relationship to the WebApps WorkMode

This page is based on the WebApps WorkMode page as of 1 April 2014. In addition to links being changed to point to the HTML WG equivalents, and the addition of the HTML WG Task Forces, the following changes/additions were made:

  • Add link to Discussion Guidelines; mark mail etiquette rules as a suggestion.
  • Describe how proposals for new (modular) specifications and the involuntary termination of a specifications are handled.
  • Cover the nomination and removal of editors.
  • Explicitly note that editors may draw from sources outside the working group; and that differences from the WHATWG are tracked.
  • Identify editors as the ones responsible for heartbeats; and that work that fails to consistently produce heartbeat documents without a suitable rationale be terminated as a Note.

See Also