About Open Groups

The purpose of Open Groups is to help people to search, locate, evaluate, and join ongoing interactive public groups across the Internet through the development open standards that can be used to describe online groups.

Open Groups is a proposed initiative that provides an extensive opportunity for the involvement of universities, companies, non-profit organizations, Internet standards groups, foundations, and individuals interested in establishing a trusted, vendor-neutral, initiative to develop, implement, and support the purpose of Open Groups.

Over time, it is envisioned that a basic standard will be adopted to describe ongoing public online groups.  This includes e-mail lists, web conferences, news groups, chat, and other online places where ongoing group interaction and information sharing of a many-to-many nature takes place.  (This does not include instant message chats, live online events, specific threads on web conference systems, or non-public groups in any system.)
Online groups can easily be described by a core set of standard metadata fields with additional fields connected to each type of interactive space.  However, the weight of interests involved in all interactive space formats calls for an incremental approach.

This is a fundamentally non-profit, consortium-based initiative.  It is not about creating a commercial entity that would compete with public interaction directory sites, it is about creating standard ways to describe groups that can be intergrated in to online interaction hosting software and systems and the exploration of models and mechanisms for the wide sharing or syndication of metadata on public groups across the Internet in order to foster the competitive creation of up-to-date, advanced and useful directory sites.

As a test of concept, the first step this draft set of possible description fields about e-mail-based group lists.  Developing a standard list of metadata fields to describe e-mail lists (which the appropriate use of XML and other standards) should spur reaction and broad interest in the effort among the hosts of online groups, particularly those who design or sell group/list software, and major directory services on the Internet.

A set of resource links is also available for project volunteers.

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