Can individuals join the W3C? Yes. There is an item precisely on that in the W3C Membership FAQ:
Can I join W3C as an individual?
Yes, by following the same procedure available to organizations. W3C does not have a class of Membership tailored to or priced for individuals. Indeed, the Membership fee is relatively small compared to the investment being made by the organization. Our processes are designed for organizational participation and we do not have the support structure to handle large numbers of individual members. Public participation in W3C is possible in a number of ways other than as an individual Member. Note that academics who are experts in a field may ask the Working Group Chair to be invited to join the Working Group as an Invited Expert.
We do allow individuals to join as organizations. It appears to be under the banner of the Startup Level; which fee ($2,250 / €1950) is for organizations of 10 or fewer employees, but is only available for the first 2 consecutive years of Membership. I have no idea what happens at the end of the second year of Membership of our individual who joined under the level of a Startup. But this is beside the point, anyway.
I’ve always been keen on the notion of individual W3C Members, as opposed to W3C Member organizations.
If I were not employed by the W3C, I would want to join as an individual Member. Not just to show support, but to influence the Web at my level. As a user. By that, I mean from the perspective of the user, as opposed to the one of corporate or business strategy.
The question came up again at the public W3C Plenary session in Shenzhen last November. Look for “
individual membership“. Alex Russell (a W3C TAG elected member) brought up the question and garnered replies from both Tim Berners-Lee (Director of the W3C, inventor of the Web –my boss ♡ <swoon />) and Jeff Jaffe (W3C CEO).
As minuted, Alex’s points included professional affiliation (publicly affiliated w/ W3C), utility and the responsibilities it implies (one issue is we don’t have sufficient representation from UI).
As minuted, Tim’s points and support included receiving e-mail from people who want to join, prestige derived from being a Member, which could be limited to read-only membership, and would still allow one to see what’s going on; or a separate level where you’ve got a W3C account where you can be allowed to read-write. Tim, the Director, said “I’d be happy to revisit this.”
The question also came up mid-January outside of W3C. There was a discussion between a group of French-speaking actors of the Web, which started on Twitter and ended up on a web-based collaborative real-time editor, around the topic of Artisans du Web (Web craftspeople), and how they could assemble and represent their craft at the W3C to further the progress of the Web.
I wonder who else, and how many, would join as an individual Member of the W3C. And what role they’d want to play, which participation rights they’d expect.
In Feb – May 2014, a task force open to the public is going to develop a proposal around a W3C Webizen Program. I have joined the task force today (it has not yet started, so if you’re keen on the topic, please, join!)
Quoting from the public wiki:
It was proposed during TPAC 2013 that we should have an Individual Membership program at W3C. W3C management concluded that we did not need a program which conferred the participation rights of Membership to individuals, since we already have Invited Experts.
Instead, we are looking to explore a “Webizen” program. For a nominal fee (e.g. $100 US per annum), the individual would get some benefits. This project will explore whether such a program is viable and want the benefits should be.
Sample benefits could include: user groups, user conferences, T-shirts, ID-cards, a path to provide user input to Working Groups, recognition as a Webizen for participants in W3C Working Groups and Community Groups.
To join: subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org