[rfc-i] citing historic internet drafts

RFC Editor rfc-editor at rfc-editor.org
Tue Oct 21 13:57:32 PDT 2008

part 2

----- Forwarded message from Bob Braden <braden at ISI.EDU> -----

Cc: rfc-editor at rfc-editor.org
From: Bob Braden <braden at ISI.EDU>
Subject: Re: [rfc-i] citing historic internet drafts
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2008 09:41:37 -0700
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke at gmx.de>


Let me understand a couple of things.

>Julian Reschke wrote:
>>OK, so let's have a look at the two informative ID references I'm  
>>currently struggling with (see <http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft- 
>>    [DASLREQ]  Davis, J., Reddy, S., and J. Slein, "Requirements  
>>for DAV
>>               Searching and Locating", February 1999, <http://
>>               www.webdav.org/dasl/requirements/
>>               draft-dasl-requirements-01.html>.
>>               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

Why should the reader care about  the earlier Internet Draft? When I  
read a technical
article, or a reference from an article, I do not care about earlier  
versions that became
the document I can find and read; the document itself stands alone.   
So why not
stop after the URL and omit the ref to an Internet Draft entirely,  
cited or not?

Then the remaining issue would seem to be the stabiity of the webdav  
We hate URLs like that, but in the end we sometimes have to be  

>>- 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  

Yes, well, if the IETF took their inherited culture seriously, that  
requirements doc,
if it is worth referencing, should have been submitted as an RFC in  
the beginning.

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

Actually, I am not sure, I will ask Sandy.

>>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.

So, here is the problem as I see it.  An RFC is forever.  Internet  
Drafts, according to the rules, officially vanish after 6 months.  It  
is completely illogical for an RFC to have a reference to a document  
that will not exist 6 months later, when the RFC may be read 10 years  
The "work in progress" idiom was adopted as a compromise.

>>This is another case of a draft that clearly is not work in  
>>progress: the spec that references it

Wasn't it in progress in July 1999?

>>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,

If  RFCs carry exact names of I-Ds, you are saying that the I-D  
documents form
a stable ("forever") document series.  Without saying that is a bad  
idea, I believe that
you have to follow up all
the consequences: someone to manage the series, archive it, catalog  
it, ensure
uniqueness, etc.  None of that
would be hard to do, given the current administrative machinery in  
the IETF,
but it has not been done.

>>- do not claim it is work in progress, but state that it was  

This seems wrong.  It *is* abandoned today, but it was not abandoned  
when it
was written.

>>- 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.

If you are going to include the exact I-D name (see my comments  
above), then
neither "abandoned" nor "work in progress" seem relevant.   There is  
no point in
a reference if it cannot be found, and if it can be found ... etc., etc.

Bob Braden

>>               Copy available from <...>
>>Best regards, Julian

----- End forwarded message -----

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