[rfc-i] Thoughts on the Independent Stream

Dave CROCKER dhc at dcrocker.net
Sun Oct 23 03:53:54 PDT 2011

On 10/22/2011 3:47 PM, Eric Burger wrote:
> I would offer that the Independent Stream is obsolete.  The need to create a
> venue to publish non-IETF standards publications is totally irrelevant now
> that we have this thing called the World Wide Web.  There is a lot of
> confusion in the marketplace that an RFC is an IETF publication.
 > The ONLY work product of the IETF is an RFC.  Independent Submissions dilute
 > the RFC brand.


This demand and this justification has been put forward regularly over the last 
20 years.  Obviously they are valid, since the RFC series is valued so much less 
now than it was then and the community is so much more confused about which 
documents are standards and which aren't.

In other words, let's please try to distinguish between real consequences and 
theoretical ones.  Even being able to show that /some/ people believe that all 
RFCs are standards is not enough.  That fact has /always/ been true -- there is 
even an RFC about it -- but it has proved completely irrelevant to the 
real-world role and use of RFCs.

> I would like to point out that the average cost of RFC publication is $1,200
> per RFC.

If you are saying that we can no longer afford to publish Independent Stream 
RFCs, that is completely different from saying we shouldn't publish them.

If indeed there are economic challenges for RFC publication, then we should look 
carefully at the costs and consider ways to reduce them with alternatives to 
cutting a stream, if only to make sure that we considered alternatives.

In order to make this concrete, I'll offer my own favorite alternative:  Stop 
doing technical editing of the documents during the RFC publication process!

The folks who perform this task do it quite well; so I'm not complaining about 
their performance.  My concern is about cost vs. benefit.  In my experience, 
nearly all of the changes they suggest are entirely valid but are likely to have 
absolutely no effect on the actual utility of the document.  In other words they 
polish the document to a better shine, but they do not cause it to get better 
mileage or to be safer to use

If the authors or working group that produce a document want it polished better, 
let them do the work or pay for the work.  If authors want to let a 
poorly-written document be published, that's fine.

Watch what happens to the cost of publishing an RFC when you remove the 
technical editing step.

And while a number of responses to your note were worthy counters, I want to 

On 10/22/2011 6:05 PM, Joe Touch wrote:
 > Finally, the RFC series - from its name alone, if not its history - was
 > intended more towards the independent stream concept than primarily as
 > standards.

For reminding us of how far we tend to get from our roots...


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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