The independent submission stream allows RFC publication for some documents that are outside the official IETF/IAB/IRTF process but are relevant to the Internet community and achieve reasonable levels of technical and editorial quality.
Every document to be published as an RFC must first be posted online as an Internet-Draft with a format following IETF guidelines. (The exception is a document that is submitted for consideration as an April 1st RFC.) To post an Internet-Draft, use the Internet-Draft Submission Tool. If you are unable to use the tool, then send your draft to email@example.com.
For an independent submission, the author should send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. This message should include the following information:
- The file name of the published Internet-Draft that is being submitted.
- The desired category (Informational or Experimental) of the RFC.
- A summary of related discussion of this document, if any, that has occurred in an IETF working group or in the IESG.
- An assertion that no IANA allocation in the document requires IETF Consensus or Standards Action; see RFC 5226 for more information. (In either case, the document cannot be published independently; it should instead be sent to the IESG).
- Optionally, a statement of the purpose of publishing this document, its intended audience, its merits and significance.
- Optionally, suggested names and contact information for one or more competent and independent potential reviewers for the document. This can speed the review and approval process.
The Independent Submissions Editor (ISE) uses the IETF Datatracker through all stages of Independent Stream document handling. The Datatracker page for a given draft shows its ISE State. As well, a complete list showing the ISE state for all documents in the Independent Stream is available here.
The RFC Editor may make general and/or specific suggestions to the author(s) about improvements in the editorial quality of the document or violations of the format and content rules. The author(s) will be expected to make the suggested updates, submit a new version, and inform the RFC Editor.
Each independent submission will receive at least one review, under the reviewer guidelines. Reviewers may be members of the Independent Submissions Editorial Board (ISEB) or some person known to the RFC Editor or the ISEB to be competent in the subject of the document. Results of the review(s), including editorial and content problems, will be returned to the document author(s) and perhaps shared with the ISEB.
An independent submission whose the material is outside the (rather broad) scope of the RFC series (for example, it must be somehow related to the Internet) or that contains excessively bad writing will be rejected. The RFC Editor generally applies a liberal standard if a document is at all relevant and interesting to some potential readers. In most cases the RFC Editor will request that the author(s) revise and resubmit their document.
General rules for independent submissions are found in RFC 4846. The details of the review procedures in that document are approximately defined by the state diagram and a detailed explanation of states for the pre-publication review process.
IESG Process Review
Once a document has been accepted by the RFC Editor, the IESG will consider whether it conflict with the IETF standards process; see RFC 5742 for details. The IESG makes a recommendation to the RFC Editor.
Documents submitted independently are sometimes remanded to an IETF Working Group that is already working on the same subject; in these cases the author will be asked to work within the IETF to develop the document, and it will be removed from the independent submission stream.
The IESG may recommend that the document not be published, or that publication be delayed (RFC 5742). Although the final publication decision is made by the RFC Editor, it is very unlikely that such IESG request will not be honored. If the IESG has no objection, the document enters the publication queue. It will be published with an “IESG Note” that is a disclaimer of IETF responsibility for the document.