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Note that also a very old and out-of-date static HTML version originally created by Harry Halpin. An easy-to-read static version that reflects the text here will be created before submission to the W3C. Please use the wiki to edit changes. If you have any proposed changes or questions, e-mail the public-social-web-talk group at

Charter Text

Social Web Incubator Group Charter

The mission of the Social Web Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to explore the development of the social web, built on both existing W3C standards and open standards developed outside the W3C, and to promote these solutions within the W3C.

Join the Social Web Incubator Group.

End date
Initial Chairs
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule


The focus will be insuring the Social Web can be built on open standards. We will focus on a number of different topics, including but not limited to: Accessibility, Internationalization, Social Data Portability, Privacy and Trust, Business Practices, and mapping the general landscape for future standardization. The group will work to promote the work of other non-W3C groups working on the Social Web within the W3C and raise awareness of the landscape of Social Web technologies within the W3C. The group will survey the needs of users of social web sites, and propose use-cases. The group will determine if these use-cases can be built on top of existing standards and help determine what other standards are needed. Mappings between currently widely deployed technical solutions for both users and developers will be developed on the level of semantics, with an various syntax options and even data models (XML, JSON, RDF) being capable of expressing this information. Furthermore, although more still an area for research, privacy, trust, and security concerns should be addressed and the landscape of technologies in this area will be surveyed, @@ possibly in PLING.


  1. A final report that describes use cases that address already existing needs of the Social Web. Determine how existing standards, both inside and outside the W3C, can be used to help such work.
  2. A use-case document that shows how the Social Web could be improved by standardization.
  3. A "Best Practice" guide that remains neutral to the underlying technology but states a range of options. It is important to determine how each technology fulfills the use-cases and values of the W3C.
  4. A mapping between various APIs and data formats that are widely deployed for social data, including tools to automate those mappings. The mappings will be done on the level of semantics.

Related Work

W3C Groups

  • HTML 5 Working Group Proposed solutions could take advantage of HTML 5 development.
  • Policy Language Interest Group Compatibility with rules to define policy could be useful.
  • Web Security Context Working Group Assure feedback on whatever security measures are proposed from the user-end.
  • Ubiquitous Web Applications Activity Co-ordinate with their work on sharing contacts among mobile devices.
  • Semantic Web Activity To explore the usage of RDF and rules in portability and profile management.
  • POWDER Explore the possibility of exposing data that is common to multiple users and/or groups using Description Resources.
  • SPARQL Possibly use them to query multiple sources of data via JSON and RDF.
  • GRDDL A standardized low-cost deployment solutions for RDF and XML
  • eGov Improving access to government through better use of the Web. Several of their topics are aligned with ours, including “Social Media”

External Groups

  • OpenSocial API - Compatibility with OpenSocial and members of the OpenSocial alliance is a goal.
  • The Diso Project has begun mapping many similar formats to Portable Contacts and we work as much as possible to track their progress and work with them. Their work is of utmost importance.
  • Social Graph API - The Social Graph API should be a focus for work on social network standards.
  • Facebook API - Compatibility with Facebook is a goal.
  • DataPortability Workgroup - The DataPortability workgroup already has a activity in the same area, so compatibility and consultation with this group is of utmost importance.
  • OpenID - OpenID allows a decentralized identity standard that would be useful to assure data reuse and interoperability remains authenticated.
  • SAML - SAML is an XML-based identity standard that could also assure data reuse remains authenticated.
  • Microformats - XFN (XHTML Friends Network), hCard and other microformats are very relevant to this work.
  • The FOAF Project - As the first semantic social networking effort, compatibility will be a goal.
  • SIOC - As a comprehensive interoperability effort for social media contributions and social objects, compatibility will be a goal.
  • vCard and vCardDAV - As an active IETF working group dealing with issues around personal address books and access to those directories of information, consultation with this group will be a goal.
  • Social Network Portability Group - Consultation with social graph developers such as the Social Network Portability group is necessary.


Members should be expected to introduce themselves and participate over the public list-serv. Members should attend teleconferences, and send regrets if unable to. The face-to-face meeting will be optional, but enjoyable.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list (archive). The group's Member-only list is (archive) In an effort to minimize costs, face to face meetings will be co-located with other meetings that a significant number of participants are attending. Regular meetings will be held monthly using the W3C's Zakim telephone/IRC facility. The mailing lists will be a primary part of the communication both internally and externally. If needed, a wiki able to be accessible and editable by all can also be maintained, and a blog could be maintained in order to let others be easily informed about the progress of the group.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Social Web Incubator Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

This charter is written in accordance with Section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

Participants agree to offer patent licenses according to the W3C Royalty-Free licensing requirements described in Section 5 of the W3C Patent Policy for any portions of the XG Reports produced by this XG that are subsequently incorporated into a W3C Recommendation produced by a Working Group which is chartered to take the XG Report as an input. This licensing commitment may not be revoked but may be modified through the Exclusion process defined in Section 4 of the Patent Policy.

Participants in this Incubator Group wishing to exclude essential patent claims from the licensing commitment must join the Working Group created to work on the XG Report and follow the normal exclusion procedures defined by the Patent Policy. The W3C Team is responsible for notifying all Participants in this Incubator Group in the event that a new Working Group is proposed to develop a Recommendation that takes the XG Report as an input.

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

About this Charter

This charter for the Social Web Incubator Group has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Harry Halpin, University of Edinburgh (@@ADD OTHERS)

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