[rfc-i] RFC Editor structure

Bob Braden braden at ISI.EDU
Mon Sep 22 14:16:23 PDT 2008


You asked:

[start question]
Maybe you could  loosely describe whether there is any advice that the  
Editorial board gives nowadays that are related to the  
responsibilities that we identify for the RFC Editor function?

For reference, these were those functions:
	• Identifying appropriate steps for RFC Series continuity
	• Participate in IAOC reviews of the RFC Publisher and RFC Publication
functions to ensure the above mentioned continuity
	• RFC Style Manual publication for use by authors, editors, and the  
RFC publisher
	• RFC errata process management
	• Liaison with the IAB
[end question]

John gave three answers: the ISSN work, RFC 4846 defining (or at least
circumscribing) the indsub review process, and the image file proposal.

As John noted, each of these was really initiated by individual Ed
Board members, with the encouragement and input from other members and
from the RFC Editor.  OTOH, the image file proposal, for example, was
the culmination of perhaps half a dozen separate Ed Board discussions
over the 4 year Ed Board lifetime, about how to escape the limitations
of ASCII, 72 columns, etc.  These discussions mostly resulted from
particular issues posed to the Ed Board by the RFC Editor.

(Note that the ASCII topic recurs on the IETF list with a periodicity
of about 9 months; O will have to say that the Ed Board discussions
were distinguished from the IETF list discussions in average clue level
and cogency.  And the Ed Board did eventually produce what I believe to
be a viable approach, the image file proposal.)

Quite a few Ed Board discussions revolved around policy issues about
independent submissions, and again these were generally initiated by
the RFC Editor as a request for advice.  Examples were (1) the
reasonble range of topics to be allowed in indsubs (e.g., are link
layer technologies like 802.x to be allowed if there is no direct IP
relevance?), limitations on publishing output of other SDOs, and the
(over)use of Normative references.  The Ed Board recommendations to the
RFC Editor as a result of these discussions was in the context of
indsubs, but I guess the RFC Editor could have passed some of them on
to the IAB as recommendations for all document streams to which they
apply.  In your new model with separate RFC Editor and Indsub Editor,
the Ed Board would most effectively have discussions and make
recommendations to BOTH the RFC Editor and the Indsub Editor.

So my conclusion is that, yes, I believe that RFC Editor and the IndSub
Editor should each be able to seek advice from a group of senior
technical people with experience in technical and/or academic
publication, and since such people are in scarce supply, using one
group (whatever you wish to call it) would seem prudent.

Recently some sentiment has arisen in the Ed Board to make recommendations
to the community as a body.  I personally think that is a dangerous way
to go, as it will lead to the kind of over-regimentation and excessive
lawyering and micro-management that I believe to be not in the best
interest of the community.  Of course, opinions may differ.

Bob Braden

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