TL;DR — A "Web Developer" should "develop the web" by building their projects in accordance with their own vision of how the web should be. For me, that means using open source software to build standards-compliant, accessible, and secure sites and apps.
The great Remy Sharp (@rem) wrote a piece about what it means to be a web developer, as opposed to an engineer, and the difference a title does (or doesn’t) make. In the end, he settles on the title of “web developer”:
I don’t know why I thought it was uncool to be a “web developer”. Perhaps because it’s utterly vague.
What “web developer” does mean to me though, is this:
Someone who writes code for browsers. Likely from the school of view source, is comfortable with drop-in libraries, understands standards and best practice techniques. But mostly, a tinkerer.
I like his definition (especially the part about tinkering), but I think that it’s incomplete, being merely functional.
I suggest that the term “web developer”, by its definition, carries a philosophical imperative: to develop the web. That is to say, a web developer should visualize how they would like the web to be (as a whole), and build their own projects in a way that reflects that vision.
This is something I’ve tried to do myself, both in my professional and personal projects (albeit with varying degrees of success). To me, being a web developer means that I should use responsive design principles, ensure accessibility, and follow the standards wherever possible. It also means using only open source software, be it in the server stack, the service layer, or even as a client browser.
As a web developer, I want to participate in a decentralized web, and would rather use a self-hosted, fully-open social media platform than a corporate data silo. Likewise, I support the use of standards-based communication protocols (IRC, e-mail, etc.) over proprietary solutions. Finally, as a web developer, I believe in a more secure web, and support initiatives like HTTPS everywhere.
All in all, I think this definition adds an air of legitimacy to the “web developer” title. As I noted in a [comment](https://remysharp.com/2015/02/26/i-am-web-developer #comment -1876942490): based on this criteria, one could say that Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the definitive Web Developer (a title he himself uses, as Remy pointed out), and that’s not bad company to be in. In fact, I think I’m going to go get some business cards with “Web Developer” on them.