Network Working Group J. Klensin Request for Comments: 4897 BCP: 97 S. Hartman Updates: 3967 MIT Category: Best Current Practice June 2007 Handling Normative References to Standards-Track Documents Status of This Memo This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements. Distribution of this memo is unlimited. Copyright Notice Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2007).
AbstractThe Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Request for Comments (RFC) Editor have a long-standing rule that a document at a given maturity level cannot be published until all of the documents that it references as normative are at that maturity level or higher. This rule has sometimes resulted in very long publication delays for documents and some claims that it was a major obstruction to advancing documents in maturity level. The IETF agreed on a way to bypass this rule with RFC 3967. This document describes a simpler procedure for downward references to Standards-Track and Best Current Practice (BCP) documents, namely "note and move on". The procedure in RFC 3967 still applies for downward references to other classes of documents. In both cases, annotations should be added to such References.
RFC 2026, Section 4.2.4 [RFC2026] and the extended discussion in RFC 3967 [RFC3967]) that a document at a given maturity level cannot be published until all of the documents to which it makes a normative reference are at that maturity level or higher. This rule has sometimes resulted in very long publication delays for documents and some claims that it was a major obstruction to advancing documents in maturity level. Recognizing the problems that this rule sometimes caused, RFC 3967 established an exception procedure for normative downward references under some specific circumstances. Perhaps because of its fairly stringent requirements, RFC 3967 has not proven adequate either to clear the backlog of documents awaiting upgraded documents or to prevent additional documents from joining that queue. This document replaces the long-standing rule for downward references to Standards-Track documents (including BCPs) that are already published. For normative references to Standards-Track and BCP documents, that rule was to hold the newer, referencing, document until the referenced ones could be brought to the appropriate maturity level. It is now possible, following procedures described below, to simply note the downward normative reference and move on. This document also updates RFC 3967. When downward references from a source document are approved under the procedure specified in that specification, we recommend that the references in the approved (source) document be annotated in the same way as references approved under this rule.
At the option of the author, similar notes may be attached to non- normative references. RFC 3967, the annotation described in Section 3.1 or the retrospective annotation described in Section 3.2, SHOULD be added to the reference unless the IESG, after consideration of Last Call input, concludes it is inappropriate. RFC 3967. This specification does not impose a specific test or requirement to determine appropriateness. This is partially because it would be impossible to do so for the general case, but more so because the intention is to permit the IESG and the community to balance the importance of getting a source document published against the time and difficulty associated with upgrading a target document. That requirement is intended to be less stringent than the one of RFC 3967.
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