Re: BCP97bis a process problem

Brian E Carpenter <> Mon, 18 October 2021 21:22 UTC

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Subject: Re: BCP97bis a process problem
To: tom petch <>, "Murray S. Kucherawy" <>, ietf <>
References: <> <> <>
From: Brian E Carpenter <>
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Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2021 10:22:41 +1300
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On 19-Oct-21 04:31, tom petch wrote:
> On 15/10/2021 18:12, Murray S. Kucherawy wrote:
>> Colleagues,
>> I've got a draft that seeks to update BCP 97, which is the guidance around
>> how we handle normative downward references.  It's currently made up of
>> three separate RFCs and an erratum, so this will consolidate those into a
>> single document.  The main mission here, though, is to update the guidance
>> around normative references to external documents, especially those behind
>> paywalls.
>> The draft is being sponsored by Erik Kline and can be found in the
>> datatracker here:
>> Feedback is welcome, either on this thread or to me or Erik directly.  If
>> people are generally happy with it as-is, we can initiate Last Call before
>> IETF 112 begins next month.
> I have called out a number of downrefs in the past year or two, of 
> Normative References to IETF documents that are not Standards Track RFC 
> or I-D, and the response has sometimes been for the author to revise the 
> I-D to make it an Informative Reference.  This is a nonsense; the I-D 
> cannot be understood without the Reference in question.
> I can think of two explanations.
> 1) the author is not familiar with the processes and thinks that I-D 
> Nits it ordering the author to reclassify the reference
> 2) the author is familiar with the processes and is trying to game the 
> system.

There's a possible 3rd explanation:

3) the reference didn't need to be normative in the first place.

I certainly saw that a number of times as a Gen-ART reviewer.

> Either way, I think that the process is failing in  way that this I-D 
> does not address.

If there's a failure, surely it's a failure of WG Last Call or IETF
Last Call reviewers to detect that an Informative reference should
be a Normative downref? That's not a process bug, it's poor
execution of the process.