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Re: critique: Outsider's Guide to the W3C

outsider guild
At 11:52 AM 1/10/2003 -0500, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
>It's (long past) time to revise the "Outsider's Guide to the W3C".

On the whole, I really like this document, Simon. It is informative and 
helpful. I do have a few comments.


A Working Group can also publish a NOTE. In fact, the process document 
says, "Authorship of a NOTE may vary greatly". It's also worth noting that 
publishing a NOTE is at the director's discretion.

>Last Call Working Draft:

It might be worth mentioning that the reason for labeling a WD as Last Call 
is that we really want people to look it over for any show-stopping 
problems. Also, it is worth noting that the last call review period is 
generally three weeks, so people should be aware that there is not a lot of 
time to review these documents.


>The <http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Member/List>members are a fairly diverse 
>group of companies and organizations. The usual suspects (Microsoft, AOL, 
>Sun Microsystems, and IBM) participate, as do large customers (like 
>Boeing, Electricité de France, and the United States Defense Information 
>Systems Agency), educational institutions and organizations (University of 
>Edinburgh HCRC Language Technology Group, GMD National Research Center for 
>Information Technology, OCLC, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and 
>the HTML Writers' Guild. Membership allows organizations and their 
>employees to participate on W3C projects and gives them access to internal 
>W3C discussions.

The above list does not even mention the largest single group: 
small-to-medium software companies with 5 - 300 employees. These companies 
make up the bulk of most Working Groups, and I think that's important for 
understanding how the W3C actually works in practice. Customers are often 
members of the W3C, but rarely very active on Working Groups, which is a 
bit of a shame. Academic institutions sometimes *are* active to a 
surprising extent. Also, industry consortia such as HL7 can be members, 
which is interesting and useful.

Also, I think it is really important to understand that each member 
organization on a Working Group gets only one vote, and that our consensus 
process encourages us to come to agreement rather than decide on the basis 
of votes if possible.

>Should I (or my company) join the W3C?
>W3C membership <http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Prospectus/Joining.html>costs 

More importantly, really participating in a Working Group, while exerting 
influence on one or two aspects that are important to you, probably takes 
25% of your time. If you want to strongly influence a Working Group, count 
on 50% of your time. That's generally a lot more expensive than the fees.

>Working groups conduct most of their discussions by email, though there 
>are face-to-face meetings and telephone calls as well. All internal 
>correspondence is archived in member-only areas, giving W3C members a 
>glimpse of what went into a specification as well as the drafts and 

Many Working Groups have one teleconference once a week, and meet 
face-to-face about every two months. This has been true for all the Working 
Groups I participate on, but some Working Groups have a different pattern.

Thanks for this useful resource!



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