W3C now a 'standardization' organization
17:17, 17 Apr 2001 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

In a recent press release noting its achievement of 500 members, the W3C described itself as "unique in that it performs the functions of design and standardization concurrently."

Distinctions between W3C Recommendations and ISO Standards are common fodder for discussion on xml-dev and related lists. While some W3C Recommendations are often referred to as de facto standards, and organizations like the Web Standards Project recommend conformance to some W3C Recommendations, the use of the term Recommendation distinguished the experimental nature of W3C specifications.

The Status section of W3C Recommendations has always avoided the use of the word "standard":

"This document has been reviewed by W3C Members and other interested parties and has been endorsed by the Director as a W3C Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document. W3C's role in making the Recommendation is to draw attention to the specification and to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperability of the Web."

Similarly, the W3C process document refers to "how the technology relates to existing international standards" and states that "A W3C Recommendation may be submitted to another standards body for adoption and formal approval by that body."

The overall consortium description does list standardization as a goal, noting that "W3C contributes to efforts to standardize Web technologies by producing specifications (called 'Recommendations') that describe the building blocks of the Web."

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