[rfc-i] RFC Editor structure

Olaf Kolkman olaf at NLnetLabs.nl
Thu Sep 11 02:16:40 PDT 2008


(Although we met in person I forgot how your initials expand. Could  
you remind me? ;-) )

Some direct replies in-line.

> At 13:56 08-09-2008, John C Klensin wrote:
>> If we can look back several years, the RFC Editor had the
>> unquestioned right (and responsibility) to push back on authors
>> and the IAB (and then IESG) about fundamental issues of
>> technical and editorial quality.   That capability was not just
>> an editorial matter; it was a fundamental element in the various
>> balances and checks that made up the IETF (and pre-IETF)
>> specification review, approval, and standardization processes.
> Thanks to John providing a perspective of how the RFC Editor was over
> the years.  His message could be viewed as the minority
> report.  There has been a few (public) comments about the details of
> the proposed structure but nobody asked fundamental questions.
> The RFC Editor, through the RFCs, provided a publication of record
> for the Internet community.  It's also a consistent interface which
> ensured the technical and editorial quality of the RFC
> Series.  That's different from a publishing mechanism where each
> stream is viewed independently.
>> I think it is time to remember and consider the hypothesis that
>> the IETF and the Internet community would be better served by a
>> strong RFC Editor model and process, one that can take an active
>> role promoting the speed and quality of our work.
> From my reading of RFC 2606, I gathered that the consensus was on
> having a RFC Editor who not only has responsibilities but also some
> discretion.  It was pointed out to me that the responsibilities are
> for the Independent stream and that the model is covered by RFC 4844
> and 4846.  On a tangent, I fail to see how Informational RFCs can
> supersede a BCP but then that's not what this discussion is about.
> The proposed structure does not address who is responsible for the
> technical and/or editorial standards; that is unless we reduce that
> to the publication of a Style Manual.  There is mention of a RFC
> Editorial Board without any mention of how it fits in the model.

The RFC Editor Function is supposed be responsible for the Editorial  
standards. While the Independent Stream Editor is responsible for the  
technical standards in the Independent stream.

In the model the RFC Editorial Board is mentioned in the text to  
provide support to both the Independent Submission Editor as well as  
the RFC Editor function. It acts as an advisory board without explicit  

During on and off-line suggestions it has been suggested to go into  
more detail about the RFC Editorial boards role and maybe even give it  
explicit responsibilities. However if those responsibilities are  
beyond advisory then the body needs to have a structure by which it is  
being kept accountable.

Currently, and that is just a choice, the model specifies that the RFC  
Editorial board is being appointed by the Independent submission  
editor, with input from the RFC Editor function. There have been  
suggestions for the board to be self appointing and suggestions for  
the RFC Editor function person being an ex-officio member.

> As in any structure, there is a need for accountability.  How is the
> Independent Streams Editor accountable to the community?  To whom is
> the RFC Editor accountable?

As it stands now I would answer this as follows:
If the IAOC follows the model of contracting the RFC Editor function  
then the RFC Editor is accountable to the IAOC, obviously the IAOC  
would take input from involved parties during evaluation of the  

If there the appointment is through an RFC 4333 like process for  
appointment then the accountability is towards the community through  
the IAB selection process.

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