Policies governing the RFC Series as a whole are defined through the following high-level process:
Proposals must be submitted to, adopted by, and discussed within the RFC Series Working Group (RSWG).
Proposals must pass a Last Call for comments in the working group and a community call for comments (see Section 3.2.3).
Proposals must be approved by the RFC Series Approval Board (RSAB).
Policies under the purview of the RSWG and RSAB might include, but are not limited to, document formats, processes for publication and dissemination of RFCs, and overall management of the RFC Series.
The RFC Series Working Group (RSWG) is the primary venue in which members of the community collaborate regarding the policies that govern the RFC Series.
All interested individuals are welcome to participate in the RSWG; participants are subject to anti-harassment policies as described in Section 3.2.5
. This includes but is not limited to participants in the IETF and IRTF, members of the IAB and IESG, developers of software or hardware systems that implement RFCs, authors of RFCs and Internet-Drafts, developers of tools used to author or edit RFCs and Internet-Drafts, individuals who use RFCs in procurement decisions, scholarly researchers, and representatives of standards development organizations other than the IETF and IRTF. The IETF LLC Board members, staff and contractors (especially representatives of the RFC Production Center), and the IETF Executive Director are invited to participate as community members in the RSWG to the extent permitted by any relevant IETF LLC policies. Members of the RSAB are also expected to participate actively.
The RSWG shall have two chairs, one appointed by the IESG and the other appointed by the IAB. When the RSWG is formed, the chair appointed by the IESG shall serve for a term of one (1) year and the chair appointed by the IAB shall serve for a term of two (2) years; thereafter, chairs shall serve for a term of two (2) years, with no term limits on renewal. The IESG and IAB shall determine their own processes for making these appointments, making sure to take account of any potential conflicts of interest. Community members who have concerns about the performance of an RSWG Chair should direct their feedback to the appropriate appointing body via mechanisms such bodies shall specify at the time that the RSWG is formed. The IESG and IAB shall have the power to remove their appointed chairs at their discretion at any time and to name a replacement who shall serve the remainder of the original chair's term.
It is the responsibility of the chairs to encourage rough consensus within the RSWG and to follow that consensus in their decision making, for instance, regarding acceptance of new proposals and advancement of proposals to the RSAB.
The intent is that the RSWG shall operate in a way similar to that of working groups in the IETF. Therefore, all RSWG meetings and discussion venues shall be open to all interested individuals, and all RSWG contributions shall be subject to intellectual property policies, which must be consistent with those of the IETF as specified in [BCP78
] and [BCP79
When the RSWG is formed, all discussions shall take place on an open email discussion list, which shall be publicly archived.
The RSWG is empowered to hold in-person, online-only, or hybrid meetings, which should be announced with sufficient notice to enable broad participation; the IESG Guidance on Face-to-Face and Virtual Interim Meetings
provides a reasonable baseline. In-person meetings should include provision for effective online participation for those unable to attend in person.
The RSWG shall operate by rough consensus, a mode of operation informally described in [RFC 2418
The RSWG may decide by rough consensus to use additional tooling (e.g., GitHub as specified in [RFC 8874
]), forms of communication, and working methods (e.g., design teams) as long as they are consistent with this document and with [RFC 2418
] or its successors.
Absent specific guidance in this document regarding the operation of the RSWG, the general guidance provided in Section 6
of RFC 2418
should be considered appropriate.
The IETF LLC is requested to provide necessary tooling to support RSWG communication, decision processes, and policies.
The IAB is requested to convene the RSWG when it is first formed in order to formalize the IAB's transfer of authority over the RFC Editor Model.
The RFC Series Approval Board (RSAB), which includes representatives of all of the streams, shall act as the approving body for proposals generated within the RSWG, thus providing an appropriate set of checks and balances on the output of the RSWG. The only policy-making role of the RSAB is to review policy proposals generated by the RSWG; it shall have no independent authority to formulate policy on its own. It is expected that the RSAB will respect the rough consensus of the RSWG wherever possible, without ceding its responsibility to review RSWG proposals, as further described in Section 3.2.2
The RSAB consists primarily of the following voting members:
A stream representative for the IETF Stream: either an IESG member or someone appointed by the IESG
A stream representative for the IAB Stream: either an IAB member or someone appointed by the IAB
A stream representative for the IRTF Stream: either the IRTF Chair or someone appointed by the IRTF Chair
A stream representative for the Independent Stream: either the Independent Submissions Editor (ISE) [RFC 8730] or someone appointed by the ISE
The RFC Series Consulting Editor (RSCE)
If and when a new stream is created, the document that creates the stream shall specify if a voting member representing that stream shall also be added to the RSAB, along with any rules and processes related to that representative (e.g., whether the representative is a member of the body responsible for the stream or an appointed delegate thereof).
The RFC Series Consulting Editor (RSCE) is a voting member of the RSAB but does not act as a representative of the Editorial Stream.
To ensure the smooth operation of the RFC Series, the RSAB shall include the following non-voting, ex officio members:
The IETF Executive Director or their delegate (the rationale is that the IETF LLC is accountable for implementation of policies governing the RFC Series)
A representative of the RPC, named by the RPC (the rationale is that the RPC is responsible for implementation of policies governing the RFC Series)
In addition, the RSAB may include other non-voting members at its discretion; these non-voting members may be ex officio members or liaisons from groups or organizations with which the RSAB deems it necessary to formally collaborate or coordinate.
The appointing bodies (i.e., IESG, IAB, IRTF Chair, and ISE) shall determine their own processes for appointing RSAB members (note that processes related to the RSCE are described in Section 5
). Each appointing body shall have the power to remove its appointed RSAB member at its discretion at any time. Appointing bodies should ensure that voting members are seated at all times and should fill any vacancies with all due speed, if necessary on a temporary basis.
In the case that the IRTF Chair or ISE is incapacitated or otherwise unable to appoint another person to serve as a delegate, the IAB (as the appointing body for the IRTF Chair and ISE) shall act as the temporary appointing body for those streams and shall appoint a temporary member of the RSAB until the IAB has appointed an IRTF Chair or ISE, who can then act as an RSAB member or appoint a delegate through normal processes.
In the case of vacancies by voting members, the RSAB shall operate as follows:
Activities related to implementation of policies already in force shall continue as normal.
Voting on approval of policy documents produced by the RSWG shall be delayed until the vacancy or vacancies have been filled, up to a maximum of three (3) months. If a further vacancy arises during this three-month period, the delay should be extended by up to another three months. After the delay period expires, the RSAB should continue to process documents as described below. Note that this method of handling vacancies does not apply to a vacancy of the RSCE role; it only applies to vacancies of the stream representatives enumerated in Section 220.127.116.11.
The RSAB shall annually choose a chair from among its members using a method of its choosing. If the chair position is vacated during the chair's term, the RSAB chooses a new chair from among its members.
The RSAB is expected to operate via an email discussion list, in-person meetings, teleconferencing systems, and any additional tooling it deems necessary.
The RSAB shall keep a public record of its proceedings, including minutes of all meetings and a record of all decisions. The primary email discussion list used by the RSAB shall be publicly archived, although topics that require confidentiality (e.g., personnel matters) may be omitted from such archives or discussed in private. Similarly, meeting minutes may exclude detailed information about topics discussed under executive session but should note that such topics were discussed.
The RSAB shall announce plans and agendas for their meetings on the RFC Editor website and by email to the RSWG at least a week before such meetings. The meetings shall be open for public attendance, and the RSAB may consider allowing open participation. If the RSAB needs to discuss a confidential matter in executive session, that part of the meeting shall be private to the RSAB, but it must be noted on the agenda and documented in the minutes with as much detail as confidentiality requirements permit.
The IETF LLC is requested to provide necessary tooling and staff to support RSAB communication, decision processes, and policies.
The IAB is requested to convene the RSAB when it is first formed in order to formalize the IAB's transfer of authority over the RFC Editor Model.
This section specifies the RFC Series Policy Definition Process, which shall be followed in producing all Editorial Stream RFCs.
The intent is to provide an open forum by which policies related to the RFC Series are defined and evolved. The general expectation is that all interested parties will participate in the RSWG and that only under extreme circumstances should RSAB members need to hold CONCERN positions (as described in Section 3.2.2
Because policy issues can be difficult and contentious, RSWG participants and RSAB members are strongly encouraged to work together in a spirit of good faith and mutual understanding to achieve rough consensus (see [RFC 2418
]). In particular, RSWG members are encouraged to take RSAB concerns seriously, and RSAB members are encouraged to clearly express their concerns early in the process and to be responsive to the community. All parties are encouraged to respect the value of each stream and the long-term health and viability of the RFC Series.
This process is intended to be one of continuous consultation. RSAB members should consult with their constituent stakeholders (e.g., authors, editors, tool developers, and consumers of RFCs) on an ongoing basis, so that when the time comes to consider the approval of a proposal, there should be no surprises. Appointing bodies are expected to establish whatever processes they deem appropriate to facilitate this goal.
The following process shall be used to formulate or modify policies related to the RFC Series:
An individual or set of individuals generates a proposal in the form of an Internet-Draft (which must be submitted in full conformance with the provisions of [BCP78] and [BCP79]) and asks the RSWG to adopt the proposal as a working group item.
The RSWG may adopt the proposal as a working group item if the chairs determine (by following working group procedures for rough consensus) that there is sufficient interest in the proposal; this is similar to the way a working group of the IETF would operate (see [RFC 2418]).
The RSWG shall then further discuss and develop the proposal. All participants, but especially RSAB members, should pay special attention to any aspects of the proposal that have the potential to significantly modify long-standing policies or historical characteristics of the RFC Series as described in Section 7. Members of the RSAB are expected to participate as individuals in all discussions relating to RSWG proposals. This should help to ensure that they are fully aware of proposals early in the RFC Series Policy Definition Process. It should also help to ensure that RSAB members will raise any issues or concerns during the development of the proposal and not wait until the RSAB review period. The RSWG Chairs are also expected to participate as individuals.
At some point, if the RSWG Chairs believe there may be rough consensus for the proposal to advance, they will issue a Last Call for comments within the working group.
After a comment period of suitable length, the RSWG Chairs will determine whether rough consensus for the proposal exists (taking their own feedback as individuals into account along with feedback from other participants). If comments have been received and substantial changes have been made, additional Last Calls may be necessary. Once the chairs determine that consensus has been reached, they shall announce their determination on the RSWG email discussion list and forward the document to the RSAB.
Once consensus is established in the RSWG, the RSAB shall issue a community call for comments as further described in Section 3.2.3. If substantial comments are received in response to the community call for comments, the RSAB may return the proposal to the RSWG to consider those comments and make revisions to address the feedback received. In parallel with the community call for comments, the RSAB itself shall also consider the proposal.
If the scope of the revisions made in the previous step is substantial, an additional community call for comments should be issued by the RSAB, and the feedback received should be considered by the RSWG.
Once the RSWG Chairs confirm that concerns received during the community call(s) for comments have been addressed, they shall inform the RSAB that the document is ready for balloting by the RSAB.
Within a reasonable period of time, the RSAB will poll its members for their positions on the proposal. Positions may be as follows:
Any RSAB member holding a CONCERN position must explain their concern to the community in detail. Nevertheless, the RSWG might not be able to come to consensus on modifications that will address the RSAB member's concern.
There are three reasons why an RSAB member may file a position of CONCERN:
YES: the proposal should be approved
CONCERN: the proposal raises substantial concerns that must be addressed
RECUSE: the person holding the position has a conflict of interest
Because RSAB members are expected to participate in the discussions within the RSWG and to raise any concerns and issues during those discussions, most CONCERN positions should not come as a surprise to the RSWG. Notwithstanding, late CONCERN positions are always possible if issues are identified during RSAB review or the community call(s) for comments.
The RSAB member believes that the proposal represents a serious problem for one or more of the individual streams.
The RSAB member believes that the proposal would cause serious harm to the overall RFC Series, including harm to the long-term health and viability of the Series.
The RSAB member believes, based on the results of the community call(s) for comments (Section 3.2.3), that rough consensus to advance the proposal is lacking.
If a CONCERN exists, discussion will take place within the RSWG. Again, all RSAB members are expected to participate. If substantial changes are made in order to address CONCERN positions, an additional community call for comments might be needed.
A proposal without any CONCERN positions is approved.
If, after a suitable period of time, any CONCERN positions remain, a vote of the RSAB is taken. If at least three voting members vote YES, the proposal is approved.
If the proposal is not approved, it is returned to the RSWG. The RSWG can then consider making further changes.
If the proposal is approved, a notification is sent to the community, and the document enters the queue for publication as an RFC within the Editorial Stream.
Policies may take effect immediately upon approval by the RSAB and before publication of the relevant RFC, unless they are delayed while the IETF LLC resolves pending resource or contract issues.
The RSAB is responsible for initiating and managing community calls for comments on proposals that have gained consensus within the RSWG. The RSAB should actively seek a wide range of input. The RSAB seeks such input by, at a minimum, sending a notice to the email@example.com
email discussion list or to its successor or future equivalent. RSAB members should also send a notice to the communities they directly represent (e.g., the IETF and IRTF). Notices are also to be made available and archived on the RFC Editor website. In addition, other communication channels can be established for notices (e.g., via an RSS feed or by posting to social media venues).
In cases where a proposal has the potential to significantly modify long-standing policies or historical characteristics of the RFC Series as described in Section 7
, the RSAB should take extra care to reach out to a very wide range of communities that make use of RFCs (as described in Section 18.104.22.168
) since such communities might not be actively engaged in the RSWG directly. The RSAB should work with the stream approving bodies and the IETF LLC to identify and establish contacts in such communities, assisted by the RSCE in particular.
The RSAB should maintain a public list of communities that are contacted during calls for comments.
A notice of a community call for comments contains the following:
A subject line beginning with 'Call for Comments:'
A clear, concise summary of the proposal
A URL pointing to the Internet-Draft that defines the proposal
Any explanations or questions for the community that the RSAB deems necessary (using their usual decision-making procedures)
Clear instructions on how to provide public comments
A deadline for comments
A comment period will last not less than two weeks and should be longer if wide outreach is required. Comments will be publicly archived on the RFC Editor website.
The RSAB is responsible for considering comments received during a community call for comments. If RSAB members conclude that such comments raise important issues that need to be addressed, they should do so by discussing those issues within the RSWG or (if the issues meet the criteria specified in Step 9
of Section 3.2.2
) lodging a position of CONCERN during RSAB balloting.
Appeals of RSWG Chair decisions shall be made to the RSAB. Decisions of the RSWG Chairs can be appealed only on grounds of failure to follow the correct process. Appeals should be made within thirty (30) days of any action or, in the case of failure to act, of notice having been given to the RSWG Chairs. The RSAB will then decide if the process was followed and will direct the RSWG Chairs as to what procedural actions are required.
Decisions of the RSAB can be appealed on grounds of failure to follow the correct process. In addition, if the RSAB makes a decision in order to resolve a disagreement between authors and the RPC (as described in Section 4.4
), appeals can be filed on the basis that the RSAB misinterpreted an approved policy. Aside from these two cases, disagreements about the conduct of the RSAB are not subject to appeal. Appeals of RSAB decisions shall be made to the IAB and should be made within thirty (30) days of public notice of the relevant RSAB decision (typically, when minutes are posted). The IAB shall decide whether a process failure occurred and what (if any) corrective action should take place.
The IETF anti-harassment policy
also applies to the RSWG and RSAB, which strive to create and maintain an environment in which people of many different backgrounds are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. Participants are expected to behave according to professional standards and to demonstrate appropriate workplace behavior. For further information about these policies, see [RFC 7154
], [RFC 7776
], and [RFC 8716
RFC boilerplates (see [RFC 7841
]) are part of the RFC Style Guide, as defined in Section 4.2
. New or modified boilerplates considered under version 3 of the RFC Editor Model must be approved by the following parties, each of which has a separate area of responsibility with respect to boilerplates:
The applicable stream, which approves that the boilerplate meets its needs
The RSAB, which approves that the boilerplate is not in conflict with the boilerplate used in the other streams
The RPC, which approves that the language of the boilerplate is consistent with the RFC Style Guide
The IETF Trust, which approves that the boilerplate correctly states the Trust's position regarding rights and ownership