[rfc-i] citing historic internet drafts

Keith Moore moore at cs.utk.edu
Thu Oct 16 14:15:02 PDT 2008

Bob Braden wrote:
>   *> 
>   *> Does anyone else have the impression that we're too attached to the
>   *> three words "work in progress" to describe Internet Drafts, and that it
>   *> should be acceptable to use other, appropriately descriptive, language
>   *> when citing a draft for non-normative purposes?
>   *> 
>   *> Keith
>   *> 
> Keith,
> Frankly, it does not seem to be an issue that warrants all this much
> discussion.  In any case, I would observe that we have been using the
> phrase "work in progress", whatever its merits, for some 20 years, and
> if we decide to change it, we had better make sure we will still be
> happy with it 20 years from now.
Well, IIRC, I have had one RFC affected by this, and in that case it
seemed like the expedient thing was to just obliquely reference the
expired I-D in the text and to remove the actual reference.   Which
bothered me a little bit because I believe in the academic tradition of
giving credit where due, and providing the best citations possible even
when they're only of interest to historians.

I guess I think that we'll probably still be using English 20 years from
now, and so a accurate descriptive phrase in English will probably work
fine.  But I sort of doubt that 20 years from now it will be obvious to
people that "work in progress" doesn't necessarily mean that when
referencing an Internet-Draft - and what it really means is "this
reference is to an Internet-Draft, and the only way we could reference
it (and give proper credit) was by citing it as 'work in progress'". 
Actually I doubt the true meaning of that phrase is obvious to most RFC
readers today.

I'm not proposing that we do away with "work in progress" for drafts
that actually are work in progress at the time the referencing document
is written - just that we not be strictly bound to use those three words
when referencing drafts that are no longer works in progress.

As a concrete suggestion I'd change the boilerplate to say:

...inappropriate to cite Internet-Drafts other than as "work in
progress", or for work no longer in progress, "unpublished working draft".

And I certainly agree that it should not require this much discussion to
fix the problem. 


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