[rfc-i] Proper status for pre-IETF RFCs currently with "unknown"

John C Klensin john+rfc at jck.com
Sun Nov 6 09:31:06 PST 2011

--On Sunday, November 06, 2011 08:33 -0800 Joe Touch
<touch at isi.edu> wrote:

>> If the RFC Editor does it, rather than the IESG/IETF doing
>> it, I don't understand why.   Certainly the status of those
>> documents is not, in any sense, "unknown".  We know what they
>> are; they just don't have any status at all wrt the IETF
>> steam other than "not in it".
> So your view is that anything can be done as long as the RFC
> Editor does it? Then why not allow all the goofy renaming that
> has been proposed? So long as the RFC Editor does it, it's OK,
> right?

See Joel's comments.

> My view is that history shouldn't be rewritten.

I guess my view is that the series is active and useful, not an
ossified fossil.  One could claim that history was rewritten
when categories were assigned in the first place, when IETF
documents (and IENs) were merged into and replaced by the
series, and so on.  So, if you have some particular point at
which you'd like to see change stop --whether you call that
"rewriting history" or not-- I'd like to understand that, and
the logic behind it, better.

FWIW, if you don't think the IESG/IETF has the authority to
change names within the IETF Stream, then you should rush out
and appeal the recent decision to move from there Standards
Track levels to two and rename the second.  

> ...
>> If I understand you, you are suggesting that we call the IETF
>> Stream today be separated from the RFC Series entirely?  I
>> think the time at which that might have been possible is long
>> gone and that it is a far more radical suggestion than
>> classifying a bunch of early documents out of "unknown".  
> The time to rename or add names to early docs has clearly
> passed.

"Clearly" from what point of view?  No one, certainly not me,
has proposed changing the documents or their names, only the
category names by which they are identified in the index.

> I appreciate that how "radical" either suggestion is depends
> on how many people remain who authored old docs. As those
> decline, rewriting history will be less radical.

As someone who, for various reasons, "authored" my first RFC
only in 1993, but who was a user of the series and contributor
to various documents long before that, I don't know what that
has to do with anything.  But, then again, I have a lot of
trouble figuring out how any part of this discussion would be
rewriting history.    By contrast, if someone said "the IESG can
change the classifications of document in other streams, or
documents that predated the creation of the IETF", _that_ would
be a rewrite of history.

> It's still rewriting history. Leave the old docs alone.

See above.  No one, as far as I know, has proposed to change
those documents or to make them not-RFCs.  All we are talking
about doing is providing a better category-identifier for them
in the index than "unknown", a chance that would give them a
more distinctive status, not less.

> The only reason to do this labeling is to avoid "confusion"
> between a name the IESG didn't earn for itself and one the
> early RFCs did.

No, the reason is to replace "Unknown" with a term that is more
useful and better identification.  Those early RFCs didn't
"earn" the title "UNKNOWN" and were certainly in no sense
"unknown" when they were written, it was dropped on them many
years later.

>> YMMD, but I don't believe that discussion is even worth having
>> today (even though I would prefer it to notions of getting rid
>> of the Independent Stream).
> I'm saying:
> 	1- if you want to be called an RFC, then you need to admit
> 	that you do not control the legacy RFCs, and have no right
> 	to rename/reclassify them

If I understand what you are saying here, it is equivalent to my
assertion that the IESG cannot reclassify (or rename, but no one
has proposed that) documents that are outside the IETF Stream or
that predated the IETF.  If so, we are in complete agreement.

> 	2- if you don't like #1, then create your own series (stream
> 	within RFC if the new stream label is sufficient; if you
> 	don't want the term "RFC" to be confusing, come up with 
> 	a new name for a new document series)

I like #1 and I have not suggested changing the term "RFC" in
any present or past documents.     So your position confuses me.

> Remember, the IENs predate the RFCs. Maybe it's time the IESG
> considers creating its own doc series whose names/tags it can
> change with abandon.

Actually, they do not (although they do predate the IETF).


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