Standards/Participating in a W3C Working Group

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Ways to participate

W3C groups have a defined membership: people can become a member of a Working Group (WG) or Community Group (CG) by being nominated by a W3C member company, by being invited by the chairs of the group (an invited expert), or by being a W3C staff member placed on the group by the W3C.

Most W3C Working Groups have most of their technical discussion on public mailing lists, which means that non-members can participate in many of the activities of most WGs. When you approach a WG, you could decide to do so by becoming a member of the group or just by joining the public mailing list and participating in the discussion.

How should one choose between these alternatives? While there's a good bit of variation between groups depending on the charter of the group, its chair(s), and the other participants in the group, we suggest considering the following factors:

  • Becoming (and remaining) a member of the group signals Mozilla's support for a group to others (e.g., W3C staff, others in the industry). This means that if the group is working on something we don't like, being a member may confuse other companies into thinking that Mozilla supports or is contributing to the work of the group.
  • Members of the group may (depending on the charter of the group) have more ability to influence the decisions and the output of the group
  • If you want to attend face-to-face meetings or teleconferences of the group, you should be a member of the group
  • The group may have expectations that members participate (e.g., by attending phone or face-to-face meetings, by keeping up with certain aspects of the discussion). These vary by group and are described in the "Participation" section of the group's charter.
  • Some mailing lists may require being a member of the group to subscribe (this is true for all Community Groups for example), even when the archives are publicly viewable
  • Becoming a member of a WG involves making some patent commitments, which may make other participants more comfortable accepting your contributions
  • Other members of the group may expect somebody representing Mozilla is responsible for implementation work / decisions in Gecko; if you're not, you may wish to consider being extra clear about what your role is

When you decide you want to participate:

  • For most Working Groups you may consider just joining the public mailing list:
    1. Send an email to "" with the subject "subscribe". (Don't forget to add the "-request" to the end of the list name.)
    2. Reply to the automated reply.
  • If you want to become a member of a WG or a CG, and you work for Mozilla:
    1. Make sure you have a W3C member access account associated with Mozilla:
      • if you don't already have a W3C user account, create one. Using a email will lead to the account being created automatically; other email addresses will require that you choose Mozilla Foundation as the affiliation, and then there will be a human intervention step that requires a day or so, perhaps more. You may create your account with your Mozilla email, then add a personal email and set it as your preferred if you wish.
      • if you have an W3C user account associated with a previous employer or as an invited expert, change the affiliation of that account to Mozilla Foundation
      • Edit the "Links" section in your profile: and add at least:
        • your Homepage URL
      • Edit your Connected Accounts and link up your GitHub account. This will allow you to view W3C Member-only repositories, e.g.
    2. Contact Mozilla's Advisory Committee Representative, confirm you have read this page and have your manager’s approval to participate, and ask the AC Rep to approve your request to join.

Suggestions for participation

  • Avoid making promises you can't keep, even if pressured to do so.
  • Try to avoid speaking on behalf of Mozilla. If the process or other participants in the working group want you to speak on behalf of Mozilla, question such process or participants. However, rather than staying silent in such a situation, it's probably a good idea to both state your position and clearly state how much Mozilla consensus there is behind that position. Though it's not an ideal situation, it's ok for Mozilla's employees to disagree with each other on the best way to move the Web forward and implement Mozilla's mission.

Read to get a good "here's how to guide for beginners" perspective that may be useful in W3C related conversations.

Technical tips

Suggestions for chairing

If you end up as the chair of a group, you should become more familiar with the process, since you'll sometimes be responsible for enforcing them (along with a team contact, if the group is a working group). Some documents that are helpful are:

Advisory Committee Representative

Mozilla’s Advisory Committee Representative:

If Tantek is OOTO or otherwise unreachable for any urgent W3C related matter, you may escalate any AC Rep related questions or requests to: