We live in a society in which everything is governed by sets of rules/laws created and enforced by a governing body. This governing body could be the government of a country, in which the laws apply to everyone in that specific country. Or as simple as your parents, who set the house rules in which only applies to your family.
The key take away here is the word enforced.
Now we all know what humans are best at – taking the same mindset and applying it to something else. So subconsciously, we have done just that with the world wide web (internet), we have inferred the same governance model to the internet. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), who maintains the web standards, can be seen as the governing body who creates the rules; therefore, should also enforce and ultimately own the internet as per se.
This is incorrect as the web standards are just a standard in which developers and vendors can choose to follow if they like. The internet is open, and there is no enforcement or requirement to follow the web standards. However, in saying, there are plenty of benefits to following the web standards, with the most important one, being interoperability.
Who and what exactly is the W3C?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community consisting of ‘Member organizations’ (such as Microsoft, Apple, etc. and no, not all employees of these organisations are part of the W3C, only a few select representatives), dedicated W3C staff (people who are employees of W3C), various academic volunteers, and the inventor of the world wide web himself – Tim Berners-Lee.
The W3C’s role and mission is to work together with the public to develop the Web standards and lead the Web to its full potential. For more information, see the About W3C on the W3C website.
So who is responsible for what?
Now you know that the W3C do not ‘own’ or enforce the ‘open web standards’. Who is responsible when something isn’t working as described in the specifications published on the W3C website? Who is responsible will depend on the issue; if it’s a product issue, it’s the vendor who created the product. If it’s to do with content, it’s would be the content creator – the owner of the content. However, if you see an error in the specification, that would be a W3C issue.
There you have it, myth busted!