The RFC Series Editor

The Search

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is seeking an RFC Series Editor (RSE). The RSE has overall responsibility for the quality, continuity, and evolution of the Request for Comments (RFC) Series, the Internet's seminal technical standards and publications series.

The IETF is an international standards organization. It is a collaborative, self-organized activity of individuals who contribute to the engineering and evolution of Internet technologies and is the principal body engaged in the development of new specifications for the Internet's infrastructure.

The Series documents technical, operational, and organizational details about the Internet. They cover many aspects of computer networking, including protocols, procedures, programs, and concepts. Protocol examples include voice over IP, email, domain security, and IPv6.

The RFC Series is the Internet technical community's official medium, through which it communicates with itself and the rest of the world. The RFC Editor functions similarly to a documentation department in other organizations: the RFC Production Center accepts documents from different content providers, called Streams, makes textual edits for clarity and formal correctness; and the RFC Publisher makes the documents available online and archives those documents as RFCs, with free access for all.

The overall leadership and supervision of the RFC Editor function is the responsibility of the RFC Series Editor. The RSE is a senior technology professional who must be skilled in leading, managing, and enhancing a critical, multi-vendor, global information service. The RSE reports to the RFC Series Oversight Committee.

Background

The Request for Comments (RFC) series has been in operation for more than 40 years, since the earliest days of the research that created the Internet, with 6,000 documents published to date. Today, the RFC Series publishes roughly 360 new RFCs every year.

The RFC Series was created in 1969 by the research community that developed the ARPAnet and then the Internet. Documents in the series cover such topics as technical specifications, operational guidelines, comments, ideas, and meeting notes. RFCs are developed by four document Streams and then processed by a function called the RFC Editor, headed by the RSE, which edits, catalogs, numbers, and distributes RFCs, making them freely available to the entire Internet community, through the RFC Editor's web site.

For the first 28 years the RFC Editor was Jon Postel, initially operating alone, and then with a small staff. His work defined the RFC Editor function and established and maintained a consistent style as well as the editorial quality of the RFC series. In recent years, the task of the RFC Editor has grown further, and the work now requires the efforts of specialized teams, with differing publications expertise.

RFCs go through three basic stages of handling: the first produces content, the second edits and packages it, and the third makes it available. The Stream content providers are independent and present completed documents for processing by the RFC Editor. Each Stream has its own Editor, who is appointed through a community process and who is responsible for their Stream's content. Currently there are four streams, with one including documents that mark formal, community-approved standards status. Another accepts documents from outside of the immediate IETF community, for authors who expect their content will be useful to that community. The Streams are described in [RFC4844].

The RFC Editor function consists of the:

  • RFC Series Editor (RSE), who has overall responsibility for the operation and enhancement of the RFC Editor and the RFC series,
  • RFC Production Center, which works with Streams Editors and makes documents ready for distribution, and
  • RFC Publisher, which makes RFCs available to the community.

The RSE handles editorial management of the RFC Series, in accordance with defined processes. The RSE is also the community-appointed expert and prime mover in discussions about policies for editing, publishing, and archiving RFCs. The RSE reports to the RFC Series Oversight Committee (RSOC), which is a committee of the IETF's Internet Architecture Board (IAB).

The major policies of the RFC Editor are created through a community process using "rough consensus." Therefore a distinctive aspect to the work of the RFC Series Editor is the requirement for developing community support for policy decisions. Typically this is best achieved through incremental processes, varying between focused, small-group development and broader community review and enhancement.

RSE Tasks and Responsibilities

RSE responsibilities consist of operational oversight, along with leadership and coordination of policy development. Direct operational tasks are performed by the Production Center and Publisher staff.

The RSE's operations-related responsibilities that follow existing policies include:

  • Overseeing and coordinating on-going Production Center and Publisher activities, resolving escalated issues, including guidance in the development of action plans to address areas requiring improvement and ensuring compliance with service details,
  • Providing annual performance reviews of the Production Center and the Publisher service-providers,
  • Chairing the committee for the selection of the Production Center and Publisher vendors,
  • Leading the process of proposing budgeting requirements for the Production Center and Publisher contracts, developing the associated statements of work, and setting the service level requirements in consultation with the Streams and under the final authority of the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA),
  • Ensuring on-going utility and improvement of the rfc-editor.org web site, which is operated and maintained by the RFC Publisher,
  • Monitoring budgets and contracts involving the RFC Editor and pursuing resolution of any issues with them,
  • Resolving exceptional production or publication issues, such as cross-Stream coordination of priorities,
  • Creating documentation and structures that will allow for the RFC Series' continuity in the face of changes in contracts and personnel, and
  • Developing and maintaining a Style Manual for the authoring and editing of RFCs in consultation with the Production Center and community.

The RSE's policy-development and community responsibilities include:

  • Serving as the primary representative of the RFC Series and the RFC Editor function, within the IETF community and externally,
  • Planning and seeing to the execution of improvements in the RFC Editor Production and Publication service, including dimensions of document quality, timeliness of production, and accessibility of results, as well as issues raised by the community and the Streams,
  • Leading the community in the development of improvements to the RFC Series, and developing consensus versions of vision and policy documents, to be approved by the RSOC.

The RSE's community-based leadership should:

  • Represent a process of dialogue and growing consensus, articulating and refining a vision for the Series and its continuing evolution,
  • Take a broad view, looking for the best ways to evolve the Series for the benefit of the entire Internet community,
  • Determine whether and how the publication-technical environment should be incrementally changed, in terms of publication and archiving techniques, to better serve the communities that produce and depend on the RFC Series.

Qualifications

The RFC Series Editor is a senior professional, with the following qualifications desired:

  1. Leadership and management experience. In particular, demonstrated experience in strategic planning and the management of entire operations. Experience that can be applied to fulfill the tasks and responsibilities described in RFC Editor Model (version 2) [MODEL],
  2. Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English and technical terminology related to the Internet a must; additional languages a plus,
  3. Experience with editorial processes,
  4. Familiar with a wide range of Internet technologies,
  5. An ability to develop a solid understanding of the IETF, its culture, and RFC process,
  6. Ability to work independently, via email and teleconf, with strong time-management skills,
  7. Willingness and ability to travel as required,
  8. Capable of effectively functioning in a multi-actor and matrixed environment with divided authority and responsibility; ability to work with clarity and flexibility with different constituencies, and
  9. Experience as an RFC author.

Position Time Commitment

The job is expected initially to take, on average, half of an FTE - approximately 20 hrs per week. During the thrice-annual IETF weeks and during special projects, the workload is near full time.

Compensation

Compensation for this position will be competitively commensurate with the successful applicant's qualifications and position requirements.

Position Location

The candidate has flexibility in their base of operations. The current base for contracted RFC Editor operations is Fremont, CA, USA, with staff members throughout the USA. The administrative base for ISOC is near Washington D.C., USA, with another office in Geneva, Switzerland

Travel

Travel is required for week-long IETF meetings, three times per year, as well as periodic retreats and other events.

Reporting

The RSE will report to the RFC Series Oversight Committee (RSOC), which is authorized by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Financial and contracting matters will be handled through the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC). The IETF is an organized activity of the Internet Society (ISOC).

Additional material

For further information about the organization's history, structures, and processes, see:

[MODEL]

RFC Editor Model (Version 2),
tools.ietf.org/html/draft-iab-rfc-editor-model-v2-02
[RFC4844]

The RFC Series and RFC Editor,
www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc4844.txt
[EDITOR]
RFC Editor Home page, www.rfc-editor.org
[IETF] IETF Web site, www.ietf.org

Expressions of Interest

Expressions of interest in the position, CV (including employment history), compensation requirements, and references should be sent to the RSOC search committee at rse-search@iab.org. Applications will be kept confidential. The application period is open until the position is filled.

Questions

Please address questions rse-search@iab.org.