There are various sources that provide information about standards or specifications.
The Free Standards Group is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes the distribution of free software and Open Source software. The organization endeavors to achieve this by defining distribution-independent standards. The maintenance of several standards, such as the important LSB (Linux Standard Base), is supervised by this organization.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is certainly one of the best-known standards organizations. It was founded in October 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee and concentrates on standardizing Web technologies. W3C promotes the dissemination of open, license-free, and manufacturer-independent specifications, such as HTML, XHTML, and XML. These Web standards are developed in a four-stage process in working groups and are presented to the public as W3C recommendations (REC).
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is an international consortium specializing in the development of standards for Web security, e-business, business transactions, logistics, and interoperability between various markets.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an internationally active cooperative of researchers, network designers, suppliers, and users. It concentrates on the development of Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet by means of protocols.
Every IETF standard is published as an RFC (Request for Comments) and is available free-of-charge. There are six types of RFC: proposed standards, draft standards, Internet standards, experimental protocols, information documents, and historic standards. Only the first three (proposed, draft, and full) are IETF standards in the narrower sense (see http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1796.txt).
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is an organization that draws up standards in the areas of information technology, telecommunication, medicine and health care, transport, and others. IEEE standards are subject to a charge.
The ISO Committee (International Organization for Standards) is the world's largest developer of standards and maintains a network of national standardization institutes in over 140 countries. ISO standards are subject to a charge.
The Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) is a registered technical and scientific association. It was founded in 1917. According to DIN, the organization is “the institution responsible for standards in Germany and represents German interests in worldwide and European standards organizations.”
The association brings together manufacturers, consumers, trade professionals, service companies, scientists and others who have an interest in the establishment of standards. The standards are subject to a charge and can be ordered using the DIN home page.