[rfc-i] citing historic internet drafts

Julian Reschke julian.reschke at gmx.de
Fri Oct 17 03:03:01 PDT 2008

Bob Braden wrote:
>   *> I hear from the RFC Editor that the current policy is:
>   *> 
>   *>        Non-normative references to Internet Drafts are allowed, but they
>   *>        must take the following restricted form: the author(s), the title,
>   *>        the phrase "Work in Progress", and the date; for example:
>   *> 
>   *>                 [doe13] Doe, J., "The Deployment of IPv6",
>   *>                         Work in Progress, May 2013. -- 
>   *> <http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc-style-guide/rfc-style-manual-08.txt>
>   *> 
> Probably nobody cares, but some might be interested in how we got
> here.  When the IETF was formed by the IAB around 1984 and Phil Gross

I care a lot. Thanks for the information!

> ...
> An aside: the cases that Julian cites for wanting more explicit
> references to Internet Drafts could be handled another way:  simply
> publish the Drafts as RFCs and reference them as RFCs.  Not all RFCs
> are standards track, and in fact the independent submission stream is
> often used to publish documents that WGs have considered and for some
> reason did not pursue, but which were thought to be of some historic
> interest.  Sometimes individual submissions in the IETF stream are used
> the same way.
> ...

OK, so let's have a look at the two informative ID references I'm 
currently struggling with (see 

    [DASLREQ]  Davis, J., Reddy, S., and J. Slein, "Requirements for DAV
               Searching and Locating", February 1999, <http://

               This is an updated version of the Internet Draft
               "draft-ietf-dasl-requirements-00", but obviously never was
               submitted to the IETF.

(note that this very text passed IETF last call *and* was approved by 
the IESG...)


- it's over 9 years old
- it's an informative reference
- it does not claim that it is an Internet Draft at all
- it provides a URL on www.webdav.org, which is the most stable place I 
can think of for WebDAV stuff
- it explains in an annotation how that document actually differs from a 
previous draft, but does not cite that one
- publishing this as historic RFC may be possible, but requires first a 
ton of updates (it has been written when the rules were different), and 
would also require negotiation with the original authors

So why was this rejected by the RFC-Editor? Because it contains the term 

The other one is:

    [DASL]     Reddy, S., Lowry, D., Reddy, S., Henderson, R., Davis, J.,
               and A. Babich, "DAV Searching & Locating",
               draft-ietf-dasl-protocol-00 (work in progress), July 1999.

In this case the approved ID actually *does* use the standard format 
(using "work in progress"), as I missed the problem.

This is another case of a draft that clearly is not work in progress: 
the spec that references it actually is a successor of it, and it is 
only cited in an attempt of explaining the history of the spec.

I think the best way *for the reader* would be to state:

- yes, this was an I-D, and provide the exact name,
- do not claim it is work in progress, but state that it was abandoned,
- provide a stable URL to an archived version.

Such as:

    [DASL]     Reddy, S., Lowry, D., Reddy, S., Henderson, R., Davis, J.,
               and A. Babich, "DAV Searching & Locating",
               draft-ietf-dasl-protocol-00 (abandoned), July 1999.

               Copy available from <...>

Best regards, Julian

More information about the rfc-interest mailing list