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This page documents answers to common questions about the Social Web Incubator Community Group (SWICG, or Social CG).

Who can participate in the Social CG?

Participation in the Social CG is open to anyone with an interest in the social web. You do not need to be a W3C Member to join. To join the Social CG, follow the instructions on the W3C Social CG webpage.

Can the Social CG amend existing social web standards from the former WG?

The Social CG can produce errata pertaining to existing standards, but cannot make substantiative modifications to a specification. Substantiative changes must be made by a Working Group. When a recommendation has no active Working Group attached but maintenance has been delegated to a Community Group, candidate recommendations can be executed by W3C staff, but this is not a preferred mechanism for normative changes (See 2023 W3C Process Document, section "Candidate Amendments")

Can the Social CG produce standards?

The Social CG does not have the authority to produce new standards that advance to the W3C Standards Track for consideration as Recommendations. With that said, the Social CG can write Notes and other informative or non-normative documents that may be offered for consideration to other Community Groups or Working Groups (See 2023 W3C Process Document, Section "Recs and Notes"). Note that once published, these CG documents may then be used by a Working Group as an input document to new recommendations on the W3C Standards Track.

How does the W3C, the Social CG, and Social WG relate to ActivityPub?

ActivityPub is a W3C Recommendation that has been written, edited, and reviewed by technical experts in accordance with the W3C Process.The Social WG produced the standard. In accordance with the Social WG Charter at the time, at least two interoperable implementations of the specification were developed as a prerequisite of the standardization process.

The Social CG has the authority to produce errata pertaining to the specification, to triage issues, and produce technical documents pertaining to ActivityPub and all other standards produced by the Social WG. However, substantiative changes to any Social WG standard cannot be made directly by the CG.

The Social CG advances the ActivityPub standard, and all others published by the WG, but does not control implementations. The usage of standards and amendments is up to individual implementers.

Social WG Questions

The Social CG is discussing whether to prepare a charter for a Social Web Working Group (Social WG). FAQs below pertain to that discussion.

What is a Working Group?

The W3C Process notes:

Working Groups typically produce deliverables (e.g., Recommendation Track technical reports, software, test suites, and reviews of the deliverables of other groups) as defined in their charter.

The scope for a Working Group is defined in a Charter. The first Social WG produced the ActivityPub, ActivityStreams, Micropub, WebSub, and Webmention standards, and other technical documents (i.e. JF2 and IndieAuth Notes).

A Working Group is composed of:

  • W3C Members who decide to join;
  • One or more (co-) chairs appointed by the W3C team, which is usually done with strong input from community stakeholders, and;
  • Invited Experts, which the Chair(s) agree to invite. Invited Experts are typically current or prospective implementers of standards relevant to a group.

Does the Social CG decide to charter a WG?

The Social CG can inform both whether a WG is useful to implementers and what should go into the Working Group charter that will govern the group. But, the decision to charter a WG is up to the W3C, as outlined in the W3C Process. Thus, the group cannot vote explicitly on chartering a group, but can decide whether a WG would help advance the social web.

How does a WG work with implementers?

A WG charter should explicitly state a scope of work that advances its stated goals. In the case of a Social WG, this may pertain to reducing ambiguity in areas of the ActivityPub specification that are unclear and have confused implementers.

A WG will invite experienced implementers as Experts to participate in the group. For a Social WG, this would ideally include people from a range of backgrounds, from Mastodon developers to people working on interoperability to implementers of other standards from the group (i.e. WebSub, Webmention).

It is natural that the number of Experts will be lower than the number of implementers in the case of a Social WG given the number of implementations of the former WG's work. With that said, a WG would work closely with the CG to fulfill the WG remit.

Questions to answer

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See Also