WaSP and W3C

About two weeks ago, I published An Open Letter to WaSP, and the feedback was very good and the following discussion at a good level. So this post is a kind of semi-follow up to that, based on my reflections on the comments I got.

What I wanted to target here was the “isn’t this for W3C”-reaction that I got, which really is an interesting discussion. We have the W3C that put together their recommendations and we have WaSP fighting for spreading the word and the awareness about web standards. Then Karl of W3C wrote an interesting comment about the W3C Education and Outreach group and pointed us to their work.

This led me to thinking: should WaSP then be a part of W3C?

Don’t get me wrong, WaSP have done tremendous work spreading web standards, especially lately with their collaboration with Microsoft, but I can honestly say that if I were to say WaSP to my colleagues, most of them would think of a heavy metal rock band with a singer called Blackie Lawless. And if W3C have such a group, shouldn’t WaSP be that group? Evangelizing in the name of the W3C would probably get even more attention, and it would also come from the same organization as the recommendations. My belief is that it would help WaSP to gain more credibility (not something they lack in my eyes, but in people I meet).


  • /T says:

    <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2005/10/19/wasp-and-w3c/">should WaSP then be a part of W3C?

    Umm, nope. Remember, W3C is not the only one who is setting standards in this field. There's also ECMA (who standardized JavaScript), then there's ISO (who standardized parts of PDF) and then there's different legislatures around the world (who standardize things like WCAG for their respective countries). Beeing part of all of them is not only technically impossible, it's beyond scope for the WaSP.

  • ben says:

    …Something else to keep in mind is that W3C is largely by and for software vendors and similarly deep-pocketed stakeholders. While several past and current WaSP people have official roles in W3C processes as invitees, these same people also have work histories at W3C member orgs that predate their involvement with WaSP.

    Our mission is, in brief, to serve the interests of the people who build the Web's content and applications, not its infrastructure. While it's true in many cases that we wind up duplicating the work of W3C E&O, that is true only when W3C member interests and the interests of the broader Web community intersect.

    At other times, we find ourselves in the position of needing to publicly oppose the plans and/or policies of a given member org. This by itself means that our relationship with the W3C needs to be kept casual, on average.

  • karl says:

    A few comments about this interesting thread.

    /T said: "there’s different legislatures around the world (who standardize things like WCAG for their respective countries)."

    Legislatures are not into standardization but in enforcement and definition of policies. WCAG 1.0 is a standard (W3C Recommendations) and some governments use this text as a basis for accessibility policies and requirements, sometimes legal.

    Ben said: "Something else to keep in mind is that W3C is largely by and for software vendors and similarly deep-pocketed stakeholders."

    W3C as an organization is financed by Members of very different origins: companies, not for profit organizations, governments, etc. In the mission statement of W3C, there is the fact to stay neutral with regards to vendors and every organization.

    Individual W3C Working Drafts for a technology is released publicly for review by the public. The W3C definitely lacks of reviews by the public. It's all here and possible but many people prefer to make comments on their individual weblogs than take time to send the same comments to the relevant WG.

    About the participation of WASP. It has happened in the past at many levels with W3C in different fora. For example HTML 4.01 Test Suite, or Wasp asks W3C was part of the work which has been done. Sometimes it seems difficult to get the things done, because many people have already things on their agenda, and then it becomes difficult to respect tight schedules.

    For example Mozilla foundation is part of W3C and that doesn't prevent them to participate at the same time inside the consortium and/or to voice their disagreement when they need outside.

    I would indeed encourage every participation of individual and organization on W3C fora without necessary being part of W3C. QA IG which is in the process of being rechartered will be one of the channel. For example, we will need a pool of reviewer at least to ensure QA review of specifications with regards to QA Specification Guidelines.

    I would like also that people review, for each specification being developed, the usability of it AND if there's a need for Best Practices, more examples, primer, tutorials, etc. Without the pressure of the public, it will be very difficult to encourage WGs to do so.

    It's also the collective responsibility of users to review the specifications before final publication as a recommendation.

    I hope we will find more ways to work together.


  • Robert Nyman says:


    Point taken about different organizations such as ECMA, ISO etc.

    But maybe then some official collaboration with these organizations should be in place?

    I had a chat with Derek Featherstone (of WaSP) yesterday, and explained my reasons for writing this post more thoroughly. Let me briefly explain the situation here in Sweden: I work in a company with 500+ employees, and with almost a 100% certainty not more than 10 of them know about WaSP. And I don't think this is symptomatic for my company, I think this applies to most internet development companies here in Sweden, and probably a majority of the internet development companies in the world.

    Sure, web standards get more and more adopted, but this is mostly due to dedicated web developers forcing their fellow developers and managers to understand about it. Decision makers, if told about WaSP, go the web site and read:

    The Web Standards Project is a grassroots coalition…

    And there they stop reading. They see the words "grassroots coalition" and think:

    Oh, just a lot of these people with opinions. Never mind.

    People in charge try to avoid smaller movements; they want very clear directions from the large and well-known organizations. For instance, WaSP working together with Microsoft is a great thing, but how come Microsoft never issued a press release about this (or maybe I've just missed something)?

    And that's the point I'm trying to make. Things are going just fine the way it is now, but if we want to speed up the process and reach the broader public, something has to be changed. Now, only dedicated web people (or the ones aiming to be) seem to know about WaSP.

    It's all about reaching out, all about making a difference; I think it should be done right now.

  • Sam says:

    That was nice

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