W3C has just announced they are beta testing a W3C Community Process that allows groups to develop specifications and other useful documents under the W3C umbrella, but using a more lightweight process than the one used to create formal Recommendations.
"Today I'm pleased to announce that we have begun to beta-test the new system with a few of these groups:
- Declarative 3D for the Web Architecture
- Web Payments
- XML Performance," stated Ian Jacobs on W3C blog.
The W3C Community Process adds a new option for W3C members and non-members to work together to brainstorm specifications that could eventually become open web standards. An earlier W3C blog post explains how:
A Community Group is an open forum for developing specifications, holding discussions, developing test suites, and otherwise building communities around innovation. There are no fees, no charters, no end dates, and a lightweight set of participation agreements to make them fast to launch and open to all. Some Community Groups may produce results that are subsequently carried forward on the standards track, but others may not. That will be for the communities themselves to decide ...
So, here's how the process will work: to start a Community Group, you will pick a topic, write a short scope statement (for communications purposes), and get four other parties to support the creation of the group. Once you have enough support, the system we plan to have in place at launch will create the tooling (wiki, spam-controlled mailing lists, microblog, and other infrastructure) to support the group's activities.
Community Groups will operate under a simple legal agreement intended to balance the concerns of implementers and potential IPR holders, and designed to provide a smooth transition to the W3C Patent Policy if a group ultimately decides to go in that direction.