Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) S. Moonesamy, Ed.
Request for Comments: 7154 March 2014
Category: Best Current Practice
IETF Guidelines for Conduct
This document provides a set of guidelines for personal interaction
in the Internet Engineering Task Force. The guidelines recognize the
diversity of IETF participants, emphasize the value of mutual
respect, and stress the broad applicability of our work.
This document is an updated version of the guidelines for conduct
originally published in RFC 3184.
Status of This Memo
This memo documents an Internet Best Current Practice.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on
BCPs is available in Section 2 of RFC 5741.
Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
document authors. All rights reserved.
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This document may contain material from IETF Documents or IETF
Contributions published or made publicly available before November
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modifications of such material outside the IETF Standards Process.
Without obtaining an adequate license from the person(s) controlling
the copyright in such materials, this document may not be modified
outside the IETF Standards Process, and derivative works of it may
not be created outside the IETF Standards Process, except to format
it for publication as an RFC or to translate it into languages other
The work of the IETF relies on cooperation among a diverse range of
people with different ideas and communication styles. The IETF
strives, through these guidelines for conduct, to create and maintain
an environment in which every person is treated with dignity,
decency, and respect. People who participate in the IETF are
expected to behave in a professional manner as we work together to
develop interoperable technologies for the Internet. We aim to abide
by these guidelines as we build consensus in person and through email
discussions. If conflicts arise, they are resolved according to the
procedures outlined in RFC 2026 [RFC2026].
This document obsoletes RFC 3184 [RFC3184], as it is an updated
version of the guidelines for conduct.
2. Guidelines for Conduct
1. IETF participants extend respect and courtesy to their colleagues
at all times.
IETF participants come from diverse origins and backgrounds; there
can be different expectations or assumptions. Regardless of these
individual differences, participants treat their colleagues with
respect as persons especially when it is difficult to agree with
them: treat other participants as you would like to be treated.
English is the de facto language of the IETF. However, it is not
the native language of many IETF participants. All participants,
particularly those with English as a first language, attempt to
accommodate the needs of other participants by communicating
clearly, including speaking slowly and limiting the use of slang.
When faced with English that is difficult to understand, IETF
participants make a sincere effort to understand each other and
engage in conversation to clarify what was meant.
2. IETF participants have impersonal discussions.
We dispute ideas by using reasoned argument rather than through
intimidation or personal attack. Try to provide data and facts
for your standpoints so the rest of the participants who are
sitting on the sidelines watching the discussion can form an
opinion. The discussion is easier when the response to a simple
question is a polite answer [SQPA].
3. IETF participants devise solutions for the global Internet that
meet the needs of diverse technical and operational environments.
The mission of the IETF is to produce high-quality, relevant
technical and engineering documents that influence the way people
design, use, and manage the Internet in such a way as to make the
Internet work better. The IETF puts its emphasis on technical
competence, rough consensus, and individual participation, and it
needs to be open to competent input from any source. We
understand that "scaling is the ultimate problem" and that many
ideas that are quite workable on a small scale fail this crucial
IETF participants use their best engineering judgment to find the
best solution for the whole Internet, not just the best solution
for any particular network, technology, vendor, or user. While we
all have ideas that may stand improvement from time to time, no
one shall ever knowingly contribute advice or text that would make
a standard technically inferior.
4. Individuals are prepared to contribute to the ongoing work of the
We follow the intellectual property guidelines outlined in BCP 79
[RFC3979]. IETF participants read the relevant Internet-Drafts,
RFCs, and email archives in order to familiarize themselves with
the technology under discussion. Working Group sessions run on a
very limited time schedule, and sometimes participants have to
limit their questions. The work of the group will continue on the
mailing list, and questions can be asked and answered on the
mailing list. It can be a challenge to participate in a Working
Group without knowing the history of longstanding Working Group
debates. Information about a Working Group including its charter
and milestones is available on the IETF datatracker site [TRACK]
or from the Working Group Chair.
3. Security Considerations
The IETF guidelines for conduct do not directly affect the security
of the Internet. However, it is to be noted that there is an
expectation that no one shall ever knowingly contribute advice or
text that may adversely affect the security of the Internet without
describing all known or foreseen risks and threats to potential
implementers and users that they are aware of.
Most of the text in this document is based on RFC 3184, which was
written by Susan Harris. The editor would like to acknowledge that
this document would not exist without her contribution. Mike O'Dell
wrote the first draft of the Guidelines for Conduct, and many of his
thoughts, statements, and observations are included in this version.
Many useful editorial comments were supplied by Dave Crocker.
Members of the POISSON Working Group provided many significant
additions to the text.
The editor would like to thank Jari Arkko, Brian Carpenter, Dave
Cridland, Dave Crocker, Spencer Dawkins, Alan DeKok, Lars Eggert,
David Farmer, Adrian Farrel, Stephen Farrell, Russ Housley, Eliot
Lear, Barry Leiba, Ines Robles, Eduardo A. Suarez, Brian Trammell,
and Sean Turner for contributing towards the improvement of the
Appendix A. Reporting Transgressions of the Guidelines
An individual can report transgressions of the guidelines for conduct
to the IETF Chair or the IESG.
Appendix B. Consequences of Transgressing the Guidelines
This document does not discuss measures that can be taken against a
participant transgressing the guidelines for conduct.
RFC 2418 [RFC2418] describes a measure where a Working Group Chair
has the authority to refuse to grant the floor to any individual who
is unprepared or otherwise covering inappropriate material, or who,
in the opinion of the Chair, is disrupting the Working Group process.
RFC 3683 [RFC3683] describes "posting rights" action to remove the
posting rights of an individual. RFC 3934 [RFC3934] describes a
measure through which a Working Group Chair can suspend posting
privileges of a disruptive individual for a short period of time.
Appendix C. Changes from RFC 3184
o Added text about the IETF striving to create an environment in
which every person is treated with dignity, decency, and respect.
o Added text about contributing advice or text that may affect the
security of the Internet.
o The recommendation that newcomers should not interfere with the
ongoing process in Section 2 was removed as it can be read as
discouraging newcomers from participating in discussions.
o The text about the goal of the IETF was replaced with text about
the mission statement and what the IETF puts its emphasis on.
o The text about "think globally" was removed as the meaning was not
o The text about English as a first language was clarified.
o The guideline about impersonal discussions was reworded as a