Network Working Group J. Klensin, Ed.
Request for Comments: 4846 D. Thaler, Ed.
Category: Informational July 2007 Independent Submissions to the RFC Editor
Status of This Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2007).
There is a long-standing tradition in the Internet community,
predating the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) by many years,
of use of the RFC Series to publish materials that are not rooted in
the IETF standards process and its review and approval mechanisms.
These documents, known as "Independent Submissions", serve a number
of important functions for the Internet community, both inside and
outside of the community of active IETF participants. This document
discusses the Independent Submission model and some reasons why it is
important. It then describes editorial and processing norms that can
be used for Independent Submissions as the community goes forward
into new relationships between the IETF community and its primary
There is a long-standing tradition in the Internet community,
predating the IETF by many years, of use of the RFC Series to publish
materials that are not rooted in the IETF standards process and its
review and approval mechanisms. These documents, known as
"Independent Submissions", serve a number of important functions for
the Internet community, both inside and outside of the community of
active IETF participants. This document discusses the Independent
Submission model and some reasons why it is important. It then
describes editorial and processing norms that can be used for
Independent Submissions as the community goes forward into new
relationships between the IETF community and its primary technical
To understand the perspective of this document, it is important to
remember that the RFC Editor function predates the creation of the
IETF. As of the time of this writing, the RFC Series goes back 38
years [RFC2555], while the IETF is celebrating its 21st anniversary.
All of the documents that were published before the IETF was created,
and for some years thereafter, would be considered Independent
Submissions today. As the IETF evolved, the Internet Architecture
Board (IAB) and then the IETF itself chose to publish IETF documents
as RFCs while fully understanding that the RFC Editor function was an
independent publication mechanism. Other decisions were possible:
e.g., the IETF could have decided to create its own publication
series. It was felt that there was considerable value in continuing
to publish the IETF work in the same series as the one used to
publish the basic protocols for the Internet.
1.1. Terminology Note
This document describes what have historically been referred to as
"Independent Submissions". That term is distinguished from those
IETF and IAB community documents that originate from formal groups --
the IAB, IRTF, and IETF Working Groups -- and from submissions
submitted to the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) for
Standards-Track, Informational, or Experimental processing.
Documents produced by individuals, rather than IETF WGs or others
IETF-affiliated groups, but submitted for publication via the IESG
under Area Director sponsorship, are known as "individual
For convenience and obvious historical reasons, the editor and
publisher of documents that are not processed through the IETF is
known below as the "RFC Editor". The RFC Editor will typically be an
organization of one or more senior people and associated editorial
staff, and the term is used collectively below. That term is not
intended to predict the future, either in terms of who does the job
or what they, or the document series, are called.
1.2. Context and Philosophical Assumptions
This document complements the discussion and guidelines in [RFC4714],
which focuses on Standards-Track documents. It takes a somewhat
stronger view than the discussions that led to that document,
starting from the belief that Independent Submissions are most
valuable if they are, in fact, independent of the IETF process. From
the perspective of the IETF, Independent Submissions are especially
important as checks on the IETF processes even though such checks are
not the only, or even a common, reason for them. That role is
compromised if IETF-related entities are able to block or deprecate
such documents to a degree beyond that needed to avoid difficulties
with the standards process.
2. The Role of Independent Submissions
When the RFC Series was fairly new, RFCs were used to publish general
papers on networking as well as the types of documents we would
describe as standards today. Those roles also developed as part of
the early design and development of the ARPANET, long before anyone
dreamt of the IETF and when the distinction between, e.g., Standards
and Informational documents was less precisely drawn. In more recent
years, Independent Submissions have become important for multiple
reasons, some of them relatively new. They include:
o Discussion of Internet-related technologies that are not part of
the IETF agenda.
o Introduction of important new ideas as a bridge publication venue
between academia and IETF engineering.
o Informational discussions of technologies, options, or experience
o Informational publication of vendor-specific protocols.
o Critiques and discussions of alternatives to IETF Standards-Track
protocols. The potential for such critiques provides an important
check on the IETF's standards processes and should be seen in that
o Documents considered by IETF Working Groups but not standardized.
While many documents of this type are still published in the IETF
document stream (see [RFC4844], Section 5.1.1) as Informational or
Experimental RFCs, the Independent Submission path has
traditionally been open to them as well. However, because of
their intimate connection to the IETF Standards Process and WG
activities and the consequent sensitivity to exact statements of
relationships and to timing, there is reason to believe that such
documents should normally be published via the IETF document
stream. In any event, these documents are published for the
o Satirical materials.
o Meeting notes and reports (RFC 21 [RFC0021] is the earliest; RFC
1109 [RFC1109] is probably the most important).
o Editorials (the best example is IEN 137 [IEN137], not an RFC).
o Eulogies (RFC 2441 [RFC2441]).
o Technical contributions (e.g., RFC 1810 [RFC1810]).
o Historically, RFC Editor and, at least prior to the handoff
between the Informational Sciences Institute (ISI) and the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and
the June 2000 MOU [RFC2860], Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
(IANA) Policy Statements (e.g., RFC 2223 [RFC2223] and RFC 1591
It should be clear from the list above that, to be effective, the
review and approval process for Independent Submissions should be
largely independent of the IETF. As an important principle that has
been applied historically, the RFC Editor seeks advice from the IESG
about possible relationships and conflicts with IETF work. Any
submission that constitutes an alternative to, or is in conflict
with, an IETF Standard or proposal for Standards-Track adoption must
clearly indicate that relationship. The IESG may identify such
conflicts as part of its review.
The specific procedures to be followed in review are described in
Section 4 and Section 5.
3. Document Submission
Independent Submissions are submitted directly to the RFC Editor.
They must first be posted as Internet-Drafts (I-Ds), so the
submission is typically simply a note requesting that the RFC Editor
consider a particular Internet-Draft for publication. The process is
described in [RFC2223]. Further information can be found in the
working draft of an update of that document [RFC2223BIS].
Any document that meets the requirements of this specification, of
[RFC2223] and its successors, and of any intellectual property or
other conditions that may be established from time to time, may be
submitted to the RFC Editor for consideration as an Independent
Submission. However, the RFC Editor prefers that documents created
through IETF processes (e.g., working group output) be considered by
the IESG and submitted using this path only if a working group or the
IESG declines to publish it. In the latter cases, the review process
will be more efficient if the authors provide a history of
consideration and reviews of the document at the time of submission.
4. The Review Process
In general, the steps in the review process are identified in the
subsections below. Any of them may be iterated and, at the
discretion of the RFC Editor, steps after the first may be taken out
of order. In addition, the IESG review, as discussed in Section 5,
must take place before a final decision is made on whether to publish
4.1. Posting of Draft
The author(s) or editor(s) of a document post it as an Internet-
4.2. Request for Publication
After the normal opportunity for community review and feedback
provided by the submission of the I-D and the I-D repository
announcement thereof, the author or editor sends a request for
consideration for publication to the RFC Editor at
email@example.com. That request should note any community
discussion or reviews of the document that have occurred before
submission, as well as the desired document category (Informational
or Experimental, as discussed in RFC 2026 [RFC2026], Section 4.2).
If the document requires any IANA allocations, authors should take
care to check the assignment policy for the relevant namespace, since
some assignment policies (e.g., "IETF Consensus") cannot be used by
Independent Submissions. See RFC 2434 [RFC2434] for more
4.3. Initial RFC Editor Review
RFC Editor staff performs an initial check on the document to
determine whether there are obvious issues or problems and to decide
on the sequencing of other steps.
At any time during the process, the RFC Editor may make general
and/or specific suggestions to the author on how to improve the
editorial quality of the document and note any specific violations of
the rules. The author will be expected to make the suggested
updates, submit a new version, and inform the RFC Editor. This may
be repeated as often as necessary to obtain an acceptable editorial
4.4. Review and Evaluation
The RFC Editor arranges for one or more reviews of the document.
This may include Editorial Board (see Section 6) reviews or reviews
by others. Unsolicited reviews from parties independent of the
author are welcome at any time.
At minimum, the author of every document shall receive a written
summary of the review(s). Reviewer anonymity is discussed in
Section 7. The RFC Editor may also share reviews with the Editorial
An author rebuttal to some aspect of a review, followed by a healthy
technical dialog among the author and the reviewer(s), is fully
appropriate. Consensus followed by document revision is the desired
The RFC Editor is expected to consider all competent reviews
carefully, and in the absence of some unusual circumstance, a
preponderance of favorable reviews should lead to publication.
4.5. Additional Reviews
If the author is dissatisfied with one or more review(s), the author
may request that the RFC Editor solicit additional reviews. In
exceptional circumstances, the author may request that the IAB review
the document. Such requests to the IAB, and any reviews the IAB
chooses to perform, will occur according to procedures of the IAB's
choosing. The IAB is not required to initiate a review or comply
with a request for one: a request to the IAB for a review is not an
4.6. Document Rejection
If any stage of the review process just described leads to the
conclusion that the document is not publishable, the RFC Editor may
reject the document. Such rejection would normally be based on the
conclusion that the submission does not meet the technical or
editorial standards of the RFC Series or is not relevant to the areas
that the series covers.
If a document is rejected by the RFC Editor, the author may request
an additional review from the IAB, as described below, but the IAB is
not obligated to perform that review, nor is the RFC Editor obligated
to publish it, even with a favorable IAB review.
4.7. Final Decision and Notification
In all cases, the ultimate decision to publish or not publish, and
with what text, rests with the RFC Editor.
The RFC Editor will communicate the final decision to the author and
the Editorial Board. For a rejection, there will be a summary of the
reason(s) for the action.
Information about any IESG-requested publication delay or request to
not publish a document will be posted to the RFC Editor Web site to
supplement document status information.
4.8. Final Editing and Publication
Once a document is approved for publication, it is handled in a
fashion similar to other RFCs, with principles about priorities
worked out with the IAB as appropriate.
5. Formal IESG Review
At an appropriate time in the review process, normally after the RFC
Editor has made a tentative decision to publish, the document is
forwarded to the IESG for evaluation with a relatively short timeout.
If the nature of the document persuades the RFC Editor or the IESG
that the interests of the community or efficiency in the publication
process would be better served by a different schedule, then that
schedule should be followed. For example, if it appears to the RFC
Editor that it is likely that the IESG will wish to take the document
over and assign it to a working group, it may be better to ask for
the IESG review prior to incurring the delays associated with other
reviews or significant editorial work.
The IESG evaluation is not a technical one. Instead, it covers the
issues listed in RFC 3932 [RFC3932] or its successors, presumably
from the perspective outlined above in Section 1.2. That is, the
evaluation should focus exclusively on conflicts or confusion with
IETF process and attempts to subvert ("end run") working group
At the time the document is forwarded to the IESG, the RFC Editor
posts an indication on its Web site that the document is under IESG
review and that comments on conflicts can be sent to the IESG with
copies to the RFC Editor. Additional mechanisms may be developed
from time to time to inform a community that a document is entering
formal prepublication review. Comments not directly related to IETF
procedures or conflicts may be sent directly to the author(s) and RFC
In addition to the IESG review for conflict with IETF work,
individuals in the IESG or in the broader IETF community are free to
review a draft and, if they have comments of any kind --including the
extreme case of believing that the proposal is damaging to the
Internet as a whole-- these comments should be directed to the
author(s) and the RFC Editor.
If the IESG, after completing its review, identifies issues, it may
recommend explanatory or qualifying text for the RFC Editor to
include in the document if it is published.
If the IESG concludes that publication of the document should be
delayed for a reasonable period of time because its untimely
publication could cause confusion or other harm with proposals under
consideration for standardization, the RFC Editor will grant that
request. The current agreement between the RFC Editor and the IESG
on requested delays is expected to continue. That agreement permits
the IESG to ask for a delay of up to six months and, if necessary, to
renew that request twice, for a total possible delay of 18 months.
If the IESG concludes that the document should not be published as an
RFC, it will request that the RFC Editor not publish and provide
appropriate justification for that request. The RFC Editor will
consider the request to not publish the document.
The RFC Editor or the author may request that the IAB review the
IESG's request to delay or not publish the document and request that
the IAB provide an additional opinion. Such a request will be made
public via the RFC Editor Web site. As with the IESG review itself,
the IAB's opinion, if any, will be advisory. And, as with author
requests for an IAB technical review (see Section 4.5), the IAB is
not obligated to perform this type of review and may decline the
6. The Editorial Review Board
The RFC Editor appoints and maintains the Editorial Review Board,
which, much like the editorial boards of professional journals and
publishers, provides the RFC Editor with both advice and reviews of
particular proposed publications and general and strategic policy
advice. The membership list of the Editorial Review Board is public
and can be found at http://www.rfc-editor.org/edboard.html.
Editorial Board members serve at the pleasure of the RFC Editor.
From time to time, the RFC Editor will solicit suggestions for new
appointees from the IAB and other sources and will seek IAB comments
on those to be appointed. The RFC Editor will also solicit IAB
comments on the effectiveness of the review process and the quality
of documents being published and criteria applied. However, to
ensure the independence of the Independent Submission process, the
final decision to appoint (or not appoint) Editorial Board members
rests with the RFC Editor.
7. Status and Availability of Reviews
The RFC Editor will conduct the reviews discussed above with the
intent of balancing fairness to authors, transparency of the review
process to the general community, protection of reviewers from
possible retaliation or undue pressure, and the interest of the
community in having any significant dissents from published documents
available to the community with the same degree of scrutiny that the
original documents received. To this end, reviews and information
about reviewers will be made public under the following
circumstances. In special cases in which other considerations apply,
the RFC Editor may adopt special provisions after reviewing the
circumstances and proposed action with the IAB.
Any reviewer participating in the process outlined in this document
does so on the condition of giving consent to handling of the reviews
as outlined in this section. In special cases, individual
arrangements may be worked out in advance with the RFC Editor.
As described in Section 4.4, all reviews will be shared with the
document authors (with possible editing to remove any extreme
language). The names of the reviewers will normally accompany these
reviews, but reviewers will be granted anonymity upon request to the
RFC Editor. The RFC Editor will in any case forward any author
rebuttal messages to the reviewer.
Nothing in this section or the subsections below precludes private
communications between reviewers, the Editorial Board, and the RFC
Editor; such communications will remain confidential.
7.1. Posted Reviews
Once a final accept or reject decision has been made on a document,
the RFC Editor may choose to post the full set of reviews (and author
rebuttals, if any) associated with a document, if doing so would be
in the best interest of the community. The author may request
earlier posting of reviews and rebuttals, to inspire additional
unsolicited reviews, for example. The names of the reviewers will
accompany their reviews, except for a reviewer who requested
The author will be notified in advance of the intent to post the
final reviews. The author may then request that the document be
withdrawn and the reviews kept private. However, such an author
request must be timely, generally within 14 days of the notification
of intent to post.
7.2. Rejected Documents
If the RFC Editor rejects a document, the author has the following
options for recourse.
o Request one or more additional reviews (Section 4.5) followed by a
o Request an IAB review (Section 4.5, Section 4.6) followed by a
o Request that the reviews be published on the RFC Editor Web site.
7.3. Documents Approved for Publication
In considering whether to make review materials public for documents
accepted for publication, the RFC Editor is expected to note that the
best way to comment on or dissent from an RFC is generally another
RFC; that reviews critical of a document are not themselves reviewed;
that the review and refutation process is necessarily fragmentary;
and that a reviewer who feels strongly about a subject about which a
review has already been written often would not need to do
significant additional work to produce an RFC-format document from
8. Intellectual Property Rights
The following material was extracted from the relevant sections of
BCP 78 [RFC3978] [RFC4748] in order to get all Independent Submission
information for technical publications produced under the auspices of
the IETF, the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA) or the IETF
Trust, or the Internet Society (ISOC) into a single place and to
initialize the process of separating discussions of Independent
Submissions from those about Standards-Track or other IETF documents.
Note that the text that follows uses the term "RFC Editor
Contribution" to describe the same type of document referred to as an
"Independent Submission" elsewhere in this document. The RFC Editor
may change these provisions from time to time after obtaining the
advice and consent of the IETF Trust in the RFC Editor's capacity as
the formal publisher of RFCs.
By submission of an RFC Editor Contribution, each person actually
submitting the RFC Editor Contribution, and each named co-
Contributor, is deemed to agree to the following terms and
conditions, and to grant the following rights, on his or her own
behalf and on behalf of the organization the Contributor represents
or is sponsored by (if any) when submitting the RFC Editor
a. For Internet-Drafts that are expected to be submitted as RFC
Editor Contributions: To the extent that an RFC Editor
Contribution or any portion thereof is protected by copyright and
other rights of authorship, the Contributor, and each named co-
Contributor, and the organization he or she represents or is
sponsored by (if any) grant an irrevocable, non-exclusive,
royalty-free, world-wide right and license to the IETF Trust and
the IETF under all intellectual property rights in the RFC Editor
Contribution for at least the life of the Internet-Draft, to
copy, publish, display, and distribute the RFC Editor
Contribution as an Internet-Draft.
b. For an RFC Editor Contribution submitted for publication as an
RFC, and to the extent described above, the Contributor, each
named co-Contributor, and the organizations represented above
grant the same license to those organizations and to the
community as a whole to copy, publish, display, and distribute
the RFC Editor Contribution irrevocably and in perpetuity and,
also irrevocably and in perpetuity, grant the rights listed below
to those organizations and entities and to the community:
A. to prepare or allow the preparation of translations of the
RFC into languages other than English,
B. unless explicitly disallowed in the notices contained in an
RFC Editor Contribution, to prepare derivative works (other
than translations) that are based on or incorporate all or
part of the RFC Editor Contribution, or comment upon it. The
license to such derivative works shall not grant the IETF
Trust, the IETF, or other party preparing a derivative work
any more rights than the license to the original RFC Editor
C. to reproduce any trademarks, service marks, or trade names
that are included in the RFC Editor Contribution solely in
connection with the reproduction, distribution, or
publication of the RFC Editor Contribution and derivative
works thereof as permitted by this paragraph. Any entity
reproducing RFC Editor Contributions will, as a condition of
permission of such reproduction, preserve trademark and
service mark identifiers used by the Contributor of the RFC
Editor Contribution, including (TM) and (R) where
D. The Contributor grants the IETF Trust and the IETF,
permission to reference the name(s) and address(es) of the
Contributor(s) and of the organization(s) s/he represents or
is sponsored by (if any).
9. Security Considerations
This document specifies an RFC Editor (and, indirectly, IETF)
administrative and publication procedure. It has no specific
Special thanks are due to Bob Hinden and Craig Partridge, who made
several suggestions for improved text in earlier versions of this
document, and to Stewart Bryant, Scott Bradner, Brian Carpenter, Vint
Cerf, Leslie Daigle, and Olaf Kolkman, who made a number of useful
suggestions about the organization and content of subsequent
versions. We also express our appreciation to the IETF and Scott
Bradner, Editor, for the material extracted from BCP 78 [RFC3978] and
used in Section 8.
11.1. Normative References
[RFC2026] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process --
Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.
[RFC2223] Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC
Authors", RFC 2223, October 1997.
[RFC3932] Alvestrand, H., "The IESG and RFC Editor Documents:
Procedures", BCP 92, RFC 3932, October 2004.
[RFC3978] Bradner, S., "IETF Rights in Contributions", BCP 78,
RFC 3978, March 2005.
[RFC4748] Bradner, S., "RFC 3978 Update to Recognize the IETF
Trust", BCP 78, RFC 4748, October 2006.
11.2. Informative References
[IEN137] Cohen, D., "On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace",
IEN 137, April 1980,
[RFC0021] Cerf, V., "Network meeting", RFC 21, October 1969.
[RFC1109] Cerf, V., "Report of the second Ad Hoc Network
Management Review Group", RFC 1109, August 1989.
[RFC1591] Postel, J., "Domain Name System Structure and
Delegation", RFC 1591, March 1994.
[RFC1810] Touch, J., "Report on MD5 Performance", RFC 1810,
[RFC2223BIS] Reynolds, J., Ed. and R. Braden, Ed., "Instructions to
Request for Comments (RFC) Authors", Work in Progress,
[RFC2434] Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing
an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26,
RFC 2434, October 1998.
[RFC2441] Cohen, D., "Working with Jon Tribute delivered at UCLA,
October 30, 1998", RFC 2441, November 1998.
[RFC2555] Braden, R., Reynolds, J., Crocker, S., Cerf, V.,
Feinler, J., and C. Anderson, "30 Years of RFCs",
RFC 2555, April 1999.
[RFC2860] Carpenter, B., Baker, F., and M. Roberts, "Memorandum
of Understanding Concerning the Technical Work of the
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority", RFC 2860,
[RFC4714] Mankin, A. and S. Hayes, "Requirements for IETF
Technical Publication Service", RFC 4714, October 2006.
[RFC4844] Daigle, L., Ed. and IAB, "The RFC Series and RFC
Editor", RFC 4844, July 2007.
Appendix A. IAB Members at the Time of Approval
John C Klensin (editor)
1770 Massachusetts Ave, #322
Cambridge, MA 02140
Phone: +1 617 491 5735
Dave Thaler (editor)
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: +1 425 703 8835
Full Copyright Statement
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