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Maintainer Guidelines

These are the general guidelines for maintaining WHATWG standards. Mostly boring infrastructure stuff.

Handling pull requests

Rules for title/message must be satisfied before pull request (PR) is reviewed. See for further details.

For normative changes, ask for a web-platform-tests PR if testing is practical and not overly burdensome. Aim to merge both PRs at the same time. If one PR is approved but the other needs more work, add the do not merge yet label or, in web-platform-tests, the status:needs-spec-decision label.

If a follow-up issue is filed in the web-platform-tests repository, add the type:untestable or type:missing-coverage label, and any other appropriate labels, e.g., html for the HTML Standard.

Furthermore, for changes affecting one or more implementations, ensure implementation bugs are filed:

For new features, or substantial changes to existing features, please notify the documentation team. Use the impacts documentation label and copy the @whatwg/documentation team on the PR or issue. They will help make the appropriate changes on MDN web docs.

Merging pull requests

Use the green button on the PR page in the GitHub Web UI:

  • Rebase and merge: please ensure each individual commit makes sense on its own and contains the relevant information.
  • Squash and merge: remember to delete the PR reference the commit title and clean up the commit body.

Checking out pull requests from forks

Pull requests from external contributors come from branches in their forks. You can check out those external branches in order to review and test the commits in those pull requests, and to be able to push changes to them on your own (e.g., fixes for typos)—rather than needing to write review comments asking the PR contributor to make the edits.

To checkout a PR branch, note the user it's coming from and the branch they used in their fork. For example, for user estark37 with branch example-fix on the html repository, you would do

git remote add estark37
git fetch estark37
git checkout -b estark37-example-fix estark37/example-fix

You can then push to the estark37-example-fix branch and it will update the example-fix branch in estark37's fork, and thus will update the pull request.

Git config tweak

It's recommended that you also make the following change to your git configuration:

git config push.default upstream

If you make that change, then whenever you're in a local PR branch and want to push changes back to the corresponding external branches, you can just run git push with no arguments (rather than also needing to specify the remote name and branch name as arguments). Otherwise, you need to also specify the remote name and branch name each time you push.

If you want to enable that same ability for all your project clones, also specify the --global option: git config --global push.default upstream.

Helper script

You can add the following helper script to your .bash_profile or similar to make the process above slightly simpler:

checkout-pr() {
  local REPO=`basename $(git config remote.origin.url | cut -d: -f2-)`
  local REMOTE_URL=$1/$REPO
  if [ "`git config remote.origin.url | cut -d: -f1`" == "" ]; then
  git remote add $1 $REMOTE_URL 2> /dev/null
  git fetch $1
  git checkout -b $1-$2 $1/$2

You can then use it as

checkout-pr estark37 example-fix

Review Drafts

Per the Workstream Policy, editors are expected to publish a Review Draft every six months.

To accomplish this the script is used, this:

  1. Runs make review for each draft scheduled to be published that month as per db.json.
  2. Creates a pull request for the changes. The pull request body will be:
    A MONTH YEAR Review Draft (linked) for this Workstream will be published shortly after merging this pull request.
    Under the [WHATWG IPR Policy](, Participants may, within 45 days after publication of a Review Draft, exclude certain Essential Patent Claims from the Review Draft Licensing Obligations. See the [IPR Policy]( for details.

The editor or deputy editor will then review all is in order and merge it.