[rfc-i] last call "On Authors, Contributors, Editors, and overload."

Dave CROCKER dhc at dcrocker.net
Tue Jan 10 09:49:13 PST 2012

On 1/10/2012 4:50 AM, Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) wrote:
> If there are more than five AUTHORS or EDITORS stream-approval is required.

For reference, I believe this is the first documentation of this requirement. 
Up to now, the documentation has merely cited a strong preference for 5 or 
fewer, but no indication of a formal barrier nor the mechanism for overcoming it.

> The designation AUTHOR or EDITOR is one that is made by the individuals
> themselves.

I believe the formally correct language needed here is:

      Choices for the designation AUTHOR or EDITOR and the names to be listed are
stream specific.

The current draft's existing language is really only a fit for Independent 
stream, I believe. There's no need for this document to provide the details, but 
merely to cite the authorities for the detail.

This might, in turn, prompt streams to make their individual rules more
explicit, if they aren't already.

> * Contributing Authors
> If the Contributing Authors section is used, then it is likely that AUTHORS
> are actually EDITORS. In that case the Authors' Addresses section could be
> named Editors' Addresses. The RFC Editor does not enforce such guidelines,
> but may ask for clarification.
> If an EDITOR is also a contributing author, her name may appear in the

<rant writing-style>

Gender-biased language is a problem.  Dealing with it has not proved 
straightforward.  So far, conventions that have developed tend to vary between 
perpetuating the problem -- but merely with more variety -- or creating 
extremely awkward constructions.  Please don't contribute to the problem.

My own view of the better path:  <http://dcrocker.net/#gender>


> * Contributors
> As an alternative to the strict-format "Contributing Authors" section RFC
> writers may opt to use a Contributors section. The Contributors section may
> contain free floating text and is also intended to credit major contributors
> to the content.

It appears that the difference between Contributing Authors and Contributors is 
that the former is syntactically the same as the Authors section, namely showing 
names and contact information?  This needs to be clarified.

More generally, the creation of the Contributing Authors construct continues to 
lack substantive justification.  It appears to be merely the concession to 
persistent personal complaint rather than to an actual problem.  Tenacity is 
nice, but ought not to be sufficient.  Neither should mere unhappiness.

That is, the mere fact that we periodically hear from some unhappy folk ought 
not to be a sufficient criterion for changing the stable form of RFCs and 
incurring the (significant) costs of making those changes.

There should be some compelling functional benefit in the change, and I continue 
not to see what this one will have.

> During the discussion of this policy Joe Touch provided

Is this sub-section heading going into the published version from the RFC 
Editor?  While the content is useful, the header label seems odd.

> * Acknowledgments are to provide credit to those who gave feedback, or for
> specific ideas - for those who did not contribute extended text.
> * Contributors are to provide credit for those who contribute extended text,
> as is often the case with large FAQs or BCPs.
> * Contributing Authors is a cookie to those who were left off the Author list
> due to a process issue.

We should fix the process issue rather than add a hack.

> Background and motivation
> When the RFC Editor refers to 'AUTHORS' or 'EDITORS', we mean exactly the set
> of names listed on the first page of an RFC. These people are considered to
> be equally responsible for the contents of the document. AUTHORS will be
> asked to read and approve the RFC before publication and will be the persons

      will be asked ->  are required to

      and will be -> and are

> that have their contact addresses listed for clarification, comments,
> suggestions, or questions from 3rd parties e.g. on the validity of errata, or

      parties e.g. on -> parties, for example on

I'm told that e.g. and i.e. are less friendly to non-native english readers, 
comparied with 'for example' and 'that is'.

And then there is the odd, modern phobia about commas.  More disciplined use 
makes sense, but there ought to be a limit...

> on the use of text fragments beyond that licensed by the IETF trust. This
> contact information will occur in the Author's Address (or Authors'
> Addresses) section at the end of an RFC.
> The IESG and IETF have ratified a policy of limiting the number of AUTHORS
> listed in the first page header of an RFC.

First, the IESG does not dictate RFC Editor rules, except for the IETF stream.

Second, I seem to have missed or forgotten when this happened.  Can someone 
please provide the citation for it?

>  Objections to huge author lists
> There is no rigid limit on the size of this set, but there is likely to be a

This statement seems to be at odds with the earlier reference to needing stream 
approval for more than five.

> discussion if the set exceeds five AUTHORS, in which case the right answer is
> probably to list one, or two, EDITORs.  For instance, when there are many
> contributors, the best choice will be to list the person or (few) persons who
> acted as document editor(s) (e.g.,"Tom Smith, Ed.").


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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