A few years ago, an initiative called Move the Web Forward was launched to help developers and technical folks get involved with creating standards for web technologies. The project links to various methods and projects to give back to the web community. One of those suggested projects involves W3C Working Groups.
The working groups are made up of professionals, experts, and employer-sponsored members. Their main tasks are related to maintaining web standards, creating new standards, and disseminating guidelines for implementing standards.
Currently, W3C groups exist for a very wide range of technologies, from SVG to HTML5, and audio / video implementations to accessibility issues. Taking part in groups is usually not a big commitment, as your involvement is at your own discretion. In general you’ll partake in email newsletters and other group conversations as they arise.
How can you join a W3C Working Group? Well there are two main methods to get involved. The first way is easiest, as long as you’re part of a W3C member organization. The second way is to be an Invited Expert, where an admin of a group will determine if you can join by application.
Most people that are sponsored by an organization do so because their employer is a W3C member. The most common is working for an employer that pays W3C dues for membership. For example, Microsoft is involved in several working groups, such as the Tracking Protection group. If you’re part of a W3C member organization, you just follow instructions for joining a group.
It can be expensive for an organization to become a W3C member. If you aren’t a member of a W3C organization, there is a series of steps to join a working group. First, you’ll create a W3C account, and it could take up to 2 business days to confirm and gain access. Next, you’ll complete a W3C Invited Expert Application (login required). This application asks for some basic information about you, you’re involvement in standards, and the specific group you’re interested in joining. Upon submitting your form, you’ll likely get an email response of some kind asking for more info from the group admin. Finally, after a period of 7 – 10 business days, you should get notice if you were accepted into the group.
Even if you’re not a member of a W3C organization, you can apply for membership on your own. Joining a working group is an easy and fun way to give back to the web community, and help you make a difference in the lives of many people.