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I've been following these organizations (institutes, entities, whatever) for near 3 months now, and both of them claim that they're trying to make the Internet a better place. They're creating documents under the name of RFC (for IETF) and Recommendation (for W3C) to guide others.

Yet another organization called WHATWG has started another path to develop web, and another community is in action under the title of Internet Society.

I don't know, why many organizations? I mean, can't they simply get merged? Are they really different? How?

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We should create a new organization to replace those and do it better and more unified. Oh wait... – delnan Sep 20 '11 at 13:12
@delnan, good comic. But this is a real concern. You see that IETF defined UTF-8, then W3C defines XML, then WHATWG defined HTML5. I mean, don't you feel something's wrong? – Saeed Neamati Sep 20 '11 at 14:15
"don't you feel something's wrong"? Wrong with what? A single, centralized "good idea authority" doesn't seem possible. How could that work? All the smart people have to (a) work for it and (b) agree. Isn't that a bit silly? – S.Lott Sep 20 '11 at 14:17
of all these, IETF is the clear winner, see RFC 1149 – gnat Sep 20 '11 at 15:04
And this one, too: – S.Lott Sep 20 '11 at 15:33

2 Answers 2

IETF works on Internet protocols, particularly at OSI layer 3 and 4.

As you may or may not know, the Internet comprises more than the WWW, which is simply an application-layer protocol. The W3C works on WWW specifications.

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IETF focuses on packet/line/terminal/telnet based protocols.

W3C adresses SGML/HTML/XML inspired stuff.

You may also be interested in IEEE, an organization that instead loves communications on the physical layer. (with frequencies/tensions/radio-waves and all that oscilloscoping stuff)

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The statement about the IEEE isn't true. Their Computer Society focuses on all aspects of software development, including (but not limited to) communication protocols, web development, and distributed applications. Other societies or groups do have different focuses, including hardware and radio communication. – Thomas Owens Sep 20 '11 at 19:50
Edited, now they just LOVE doing physical layer stuff. – ZJR Sep 20 '11 at 20:46
@Owens Just curious: got some example of relevant non-physical layer standards from IEEE? – ZJR Sep 20 '11 at 20:47
@ZJR: IEEE 802.1, 802.2, 802.11v, 802.15.3b, 802.17b, and 802.21, to name just a few. Quite a few more specify a MAC layer along with the PHY. – Jerry Coffin Sep 20 '11 at 21:38
@ZJR I wasn't necessarily referring to standards, but rather the research and development efforts by members of the IEEE. – Thomas Owens Sep 20 '11 at 21:42

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