Re: When to adopt a draft as a WG doc (was RE: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists")

Dave Crocker <> Fri, 30 November 2012 16:06 UTC

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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2012 08:06:17 -0800
From: Dave Crocker <>
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To: Barry Leiba <>
Subject: Re: When to adopt a draft as a WG doc (was RE: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists")
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On 11/28/2012 7:58 AM, Barry Leiba wrote:
> Let's start with a basic point and work from there:
> There is no formal process that involves "adopting" anything.

If you mean that we haven't documented a/the formal process, you are 
correct.  If you mean that the IETF has not moved towards rather formal 
steps for explicitly adopting working group drafts, I disagree.

There is flexibility in the process that has developed, but it's become 
quite formal.  The first shakey steps were controlling assignment of 
"draft-<wgname>" roughly 20 years ago and it has evolved from there.

Today, there is typically explicit text in the charter about adoption or 
there is explicit wg approval.

>   There is nothing anywhere that specifies how the first version
> of a WG document is formed.

Right.  Our documentation of our formal processes has lagged.

The next part of your note summarizes a couple of common starting points 
for drafts.

On 11/29/2012 11:06 AM, Barry Leiba wrote:
> Here's where we have a gap, you and I: what you call undocumented
> policy I call a management choice.

There certainly are parts of wg management that are left to chair 
discretion.  However the IETF also likes to use squishy language like 
"management choice" to avoid being disciplined in its formal processes. 
We are constantly afraid of edge conditions, and use that fear as an 
excuse for being inconsistent in the handling of typical cases.

In the current discussion, I think there needs to be an essential 
distinction:  For example, choosing editors is /formally/ a management 
choice.  Approval of drafts is not.

I think the essential point is the difference between 'what' and 'how'.

The IETF has unusual flexibility in the 'how', and often leaves the 
choices to management... but implicitly based on acceptance of the 
working group.

In very specific circumstances, such as selecting editors, the freedom 
of management choice is permitted for the 'what'.

  Dave Crocker
  Brandenburg InternetWorking