World Wide Web Consortium

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World Wide Web Consortium
File:W3C logo.svg
Abbreviation W3C
Motto Leading the Web to Its Full Potential...
Formation October 1994
Type Standards organization
Purpose/focus Developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web.
Location MIT/CSAIL in USA, ERCIM in France,
Keio University in Japan and many other offices around the world
Region served Worldwide
Membership 356 member organizations[1]
Director Tim Berners-Lee
Staff 62
Website www.w3.orgHistory

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).

Founded and headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee,[2] the consortium is made up of member organizations which maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of 8 September 2009, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has 356 members.[1]

W3C also engages in education and outreach, develops software and serves as an open forum for discussion about the Web.




The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee after he left the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October, 1994. It was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) with support from the European Commission and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had pioneered the Internet.

W3C was created to ensure compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards. Prior to its creation, incompatible versions of HTML were offered by different vendors, increasing the potential for inconsistency between web pages. The consortium was created to get all those vendors to agree on a set of core principles and components which would be supported by everyone.

It was originally intended that CERN host the European branch of W3C; however, CERN wished to focus on particle physics, not information technology. In April 1995 the Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (INRIA) became the European host of W3C, with Keio University becoming the Japanese branch in September 1996. Starting in 1997, W3C created regional offices around the world; as of September 2009, it has eighteen World Offices covering Australia, the Benelux countries (the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium), Brazil, China, Finland, Germany and Austria, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom and Ireland.[3]

In January 2003, the European host was transferred from INRIA to the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), an organization that represents European national computer science laboratories.

Recommendations and certifications

In accord with the W3C Process Document, a Recommendation progresses through five maturity levels:

  1. Working Draft (WD)
  2. Last Call Working Draft
  3. Candidate Recommendation (CR)
  4. Proposed Recommendation (PR)
  5. W3C Recommendation (REC)

A Recommendation may be updated by separately published Errata until enough substantial edits accumulate, at which time a new edition of the Recommendation may be produced (e.g., XML is now in its fifth edition). W3C also publishes various kinds of informative Notes which are not intended to be treated as standards.

W3C leaves it up to manufacturers to follow the Recommendations. Many of its standards define levels of conformance, which the developers must follow if they wish to label their product W3C-compliant. Like any standards of other organizations, W3C recommendations are sometimes implemented partially. The Recommendations are under a royalty-free patent license, allowing anyone to implement them.

Unlike the ISOC and other international standards bodies, the W3C does not have a certification program. A certification program is a process which has benefits and drawbacks; the W3C has decided, for now, that it is not suitable to start such a program owing to the risk of creating more drawbacks for the community than benefits.


Template:SVGSeries The Consortium is jointly administered by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) (in Sophia Antipolis, France), and Keio University (in Japan). The W3C also has World Offices in sixteen regions around the world. The W3C Offices work with their regional Web communities to promote W3C technologies in local languages, broaden W3C's geographical base, and encourage international participation in W3C Activities.


The domain attracted at least 11 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[4]

The Consortium is governed by its membership, which in August 2009 comprised 355 organizations. The list of members is available to the public.[1] Members include only businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, and governmental entities. There is no provision for individual membership.[5]

Membership requirements are transparent except for one requirement. An application for membership must be reviewed and approved by W3C. Many guidelines and requirements are stated in detail, but there is no final guideline about the process or standards by which membership might be finally approved or denied.[6]

The cost of membership is given on a sliding scale, depending on the character of the organization applying and the country in which it is located.[7] Countries are categorized by the World Bank's most recent grouping by GNI ("Gross National Income") per capita.[8]

Fees Schedule for 2007

European, Middle Eastern, and African organizations pay dues denominated in Euros, as follows:

  • The fee charged to for-profit companies with annual gross revenues exceeding €51 million was €65,000, regardless of location.
  • The fee charged to for-profit companies with annual gross revenues under €51 million but greater than the "Other organization" cap (see below) was €6,500, regardless of location.
  • Smaller and non-profit organizations located in lower GNI countries enjoy two price advantages:
    • In High Income Countries (HIC) such as France and Israel, non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations with AGR under €51 million are charged €6,500.
    • In Upper Middle Income Countries (UMC) such as Poland and South Africa, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with AGR under €30.6 million pay €3,900.
    • In Lower Middle Income Countries (LMC) such as Ukraine and Jordan, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with AGR under €15.3 million pay €1,950.
    • In Lower Income Countries (LIC) such as Pakistan and Kenya, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies with AGR under €7.65 million pay €975.

Similar scales apply to dues denominated in yen for some Asian countries, and US dollars for all others.


Domination by large organizations

The W3C has been criticized as being dominated by larger organizations and thus writing standards that represent their interests. For example, a member of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG)[9] complained that:

The process is stacked in favour of multinationals with expense accounts who can afford to talk on the phone for two hours a week and jet to world capitals for meetings.[10]

A similar criticism, responding to large software company complaints about the slow pace of W3C's formulation of XML/web services standards, appeared in Cnet's in 2002:

"I'm not convinced that developers are too bothered," said Edd Dumbill, editor of, who has worked as a software developer on Web services. "I think developers are being poorly served by the fact that the big companies have dominated the work of the W3C over the last year. The W3C does more or less what its members tell it to. So I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for the complaints of large companies."[11]

Deployment of HTML

Writing in 2009, Vlad Alexander has claimed that the HTML specification has been a failure, because only a small percentage of the intended users of the HTML specification use it correctly. He also claims that W3C was not engaged with Web site creators who represented the majority of the intended users of the HTML spec and did not provide them with the necessary support to use the HTML spec correctly.[12]


W3C/IETF Standards (over Internet protocol suite):     



See also


External links

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