There is a core of common formats which will cover a large proportion of material received by typical memory institutions such as archives and libraries. However there is a ‘long tail’ of rarer or more specialist file formats which may nonetheless be important. The overall effort to maintain information on all these formats is considerable, too much in general for any single institution to manage.
Therefore it is essential that the work of researching and documenting file formats can be shared amongst many institutions. A mechanism must be in place for experts on specific formats to easily share their knowledge with the broader community. This information may be produced by memory institutions, by academic researchers, by software vendors, by specific expert groups or by individual independent experts or interested parties. Any system of format registries should be designed to enable and promote sharing of information from this broad spectrum of contributors and that should be the prime consideration in determining the design of a system to exchange information about file formats.