The Independent Submission Stream allows RFC publication for some documents that are outside the official processes of the IETF, IAB, and IRTF but are relevant to the Internet community and achieve reasonable levels of technical and editorial quality. RFC 8730, “Independent Submission Editor Model”, as updated by RFC 9280, describes the roles of
- the Independent Submissions Editor (ISE) and
- the Independent Submissions Editorial Board, which provides review for the ISE.
The Independent Submissions Editor (ISE) is currently Eliot Lear, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be considered for publishing as an RFC, a document must first be posted online as an Internet-Draft. (The exception is a document that is submitted for consideration as an April 1st RFC.) See I-D Author Resources for guidance on posting an Internet-Draft.
After posting the document as an Internet-Draft, the author should send an email message to the ISE: email@example.com. This message should include the following information:
- The file name of the published Internet-Draft that is being submitted.
- The desired category (Informational or Experimental).
- A summary of related discussion of this document, if any, that has occurred in an IETF working group or in the IESG.
- An assertion that no IANA allocation in the document requires IETF Review or Standards Action. See RFC 8126 for a definition of these terms and RFC 8726 for more information about how IANA requests are handled for Independent Submission Stream documents.
- A statement describing the purpose, intended audience, merits, and significance of the document.
- Suggestions for one or more competent and independent potential reviewers for the document, including contact information. This can speed the review and approval process.
The ISE uses the IETF Datatracker through all stages of Independent Submission Stream document handling. The Datatracker page for a given draft shows its ISE state. RFC 6322 provides descriptions of these states. In addition, a complete list showing the ISE state for all documents in the Independent Submission Stream is available here.
The procedures and requirements for handling rights (including copyright and IPR) in the Independent Submission Stream are documented in RFC 5744.
The ISE may make general and/or specific suggestions to the author(s) about improvements in the editorial quality of the document or violations of the format and content rules. As with other streams in the RFC Series, documents in the Independent Submission Stream should follow the NIST guidance for the use of inclusive language. The author(s) will be expected to make the suggested updates, submit a new version, and inform the ISE.
Each independent submission will receive at least one review, under the reviewer guidelines. Reviewers may be members of the Independent Submissions Editorial Board (ISEB) or some person known to the ISE or the ISEB to be competent in the subject of the document. Results of the review(s), including editorial and content problems, will be returned to the document author(s) and perhaps shared with the ISEB.
An independent submission that contains material outside the (rather broad) scope of the RFC Series (for example, it must be somehow related to the Internet) or that contains excessively bad writing will be rejected. The ISE generally applies a liberal standard if a document is at all relevant and interesting to some potential readers. In most cases, the ISE will request that the author(s) revise and resubmit their document.
General rules for independent submissions are found in RFC 4846. The details of the review procedures in that document are approximately defined by the state diagram and a detailed explanation of states for the pre-publication review process.
IESG Process Review
As a document progresses through the independent submission process, the IESG will consider whether it conflicts with the IETF standards process; see RFC 5742 for details. The IESG makes a recommendation to the ISE.
Documents submitted independently are sometimes remanded to an IETF working group that is already working on the same subject; in these cases, the author will be asked to work within the IETF to develop the document, and it will be removed from the Independent Submission Stream.
The IESG may recommend that the document not be published or that publication be delayed (RFC 5742). In these cases, the ISE will weigh carefully the IESG’s recommendation against other considerations and make a final decision.
Conflict of Interest Policy
From time to time, the Independent Submissions Editor may have a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, with regard to a particular draft. This can occur for a number of reasons, including when submissions are received from people who are employed by the ISE’s employer or its competitors. Such relationships in and of themselves may not lead to variance in the editorial process, but they must be disclosed.
When the ISE believes that there may be a conflict of interest, or if authors or others believe that there is a conflict of interest, the matter will be referred to the Independent Submissions Editorial Board. They will advise the ISE as to what should happen at the various stages of the publication process. The ISE will inform the community and authors of such conflicts, and any actions to be taken as a result.