[rfc-i] RFC citations committee I-D issued

Joe Touch touch at isi.edu
Fri Feb 11 13:54:27 PST 2011

On 2/11/2011 1:17 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> On 2011-02-12 08:35, Joe Touch wrote:
>> On 2/11/2011 11:16 AM, Scott O. Bradner wrote:
>>> There is a basic question that I've not seen asked in this discussion:
>>> what is the reason that someone wants to cite an ID in an RFC?
>> FWIW, that is the basis of many of my comments.
>> I would claim that most citations are one or both of:
>> a) attribution
>> b) supplemental content
>> IDs ought to be limited to (a) only,
> I really don't see how you can make that assertion. The IETF can
> and does prohibit any form of technical dependency on I-Ds
> in IETF standards track documents. But the IETF has nothing to
> say about non-IETF documents of any kind, and has never in practice
> prevented informational citation of I-Ds for any reason - attribution,
> content on which the specification does not depend, background information,
> path not followed, etc.

We can always say how they should be cited. Whether anyone follows that 
information is, of course, their choice.

It's still useful to say:

	"IDs should be cited in the same spirit as email message
	identifiers; for attribution, rather than content. Any
	relevant content critical to understanding the citing
	document should be summarized therein."

> I'd be all in favour of rewriting the relevant part of RFC 2026 to
> formally establish the distinction between normative and informative
> references in IETF standards track documents and to make it clear
> that I-Ds must never be normative references. That's what we do in
> practice anyway.

Sure - that's useful (though, as others have pointed out, that may not 
be the focus of this doc, and I'm not arguing otherwise)

> But I really don't see the point in trying to subdivide informative
> citations of I-Ds into various categories, of which only some are
> allowed in IETF stream RFCs.

I don't see the above as dividing citations of I-Ds. I'm subdividing 
informative references; some are informative for attribution, whereas 
others are informative for content.

I claim that there should be a limit to the use of *any* ephemeral 
reference as an informative citation - they MUST be only for 
attribution, and any key content required to understand the doc MUST be 
summarized in that doc.

> In any case, the question the citations committee was asked was not that.
> It was, given that an I-D is to be cited (non-normatively), for any
> reason and in any IETF stream, or elsewhere, what should the
> citation look like?

> in the same spirit as e-mail
>> citations. The citing doc should include a sufficient summary - either
>> inline, or in an appendix - to stand alone in the absence of obtaining
>> the ID.
> That's a matter of opinion. However, if somebody needs to cite an I-D
> in a paper that is size-limited by the publishing venue, they won't
> necessarily be able to do that. This doesn't concern RFCs but it
> does concern many conference and journal papers.

Right - and my experience is that this is still enforceable by those 
within these venues. If you depend on a core idea in an ID, you can't 
get away without at least providing *enough* of a summary that you don't 
need the ID by your side to understand the paper. If you do, then the 
paper needs to be longer, period. If that length exceeds the limit of a 
venue, then that's the wrong venue for that work, period.


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