[rfc-i] RFCs for vanity reasons (was: RFCs accepted journal articles)

Paul E. Jones paulej at packetizer.com
Tue May 14 17:15:20 PDT 2013

I don't know how many such RFCs are published, but I would not assume that a
long list of authors necessarily suggests vanity.  I've seen a few instances
where a number of folks did collaborate to produce text and it's hard to
argue one person should be named as author while another should not.

There is an acknowledgement section, but that's not really the right place
to place the names of authors.  Further, that section almost always fails to
list everyone who contributed to the work of a WG.

I've often wondered why RFCs even have authors' names at the top.
Historical reasons only?  Perhaps it makes sense for individual drafts or
RFCs that are not pushed through a WG, but the WG participants IETF
leadership have a significant impact on the text as it is progressed.  Why
not publish such RFCs without names attached, perhaps listing only the WG or
Area?  Most useful RFCs are the product of the IETF WG, after all, not just
the editor or original authors.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-editor.org [mailto:rfc-interest-
> bounces at rfc-editor.org] On Behalf Of SM
> Sent: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 6:51 PM
> To: Larry Masinter
> Cc: rfc-interest at rfc-editor.org
> Subject: [rfc-i] RFCs for vanity reasons (was: RFCs accepted journal
> articles)
> Hi Larry,
> [Cc trimmed to mailing list only]
> At 08:32 07-05-2013, Larry Masinter wrote:
> >I think there is too strong a  temptation already to publish RFCs
> >for vanity reasons  rather than good-standards reasons (that the
> >community needs the RFC and that it does a good job of specifying
> >something that is useful to specify).
> >
> >The IETF would be better off actively promoting the meme that RFCs
> >aren't peer reviewed by pointing to the April 1 RFC series.
> The author takes all the credit for the RFC.  Some RFCs are published
> for vanity reasons.  Some RFCs are published for I don't know what
> reason. :-)
> I think that "we" might wish to distinguish between RFCs from the
> IETF Stream and the other streams.  The former are produced by a
> standards determining organization.  The others could be seen as
> documentation, criticism, etc.  When you see a long list of authors
> or controversies because of acknowledgements there may be a degree of
> vanity.  There are also other reasons; e.g. how work is measured.
> It is nearly impossible to get agreement on changes which are
> proposed.  Is the system sustainable in the long run?  Time will tell.
> Regards,
> -sm
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