[RFC Home] [TEXT|PDF|HTML] [Tracker] [IPR] [Errata] [Info page]

Updated by: 3934, 7475, 7776, 8717, 9141 Errata Exist
Network Working Group                                         S. Bradner
Request for Comments: 2418                                        Editor
Obsoletes: 1603                                       Harvard University
BCP: 25                                                   September 1998
Category: Best Current Practice

                           IETF Working Group
                       Guidelines and Procedures

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


   The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has responsibility for
   developing and reviewing specifications intended as Internet
   Standards. IETF activities are organized into working groups (WGs).
   This document describes the guidelines and procedures for formation
   and operation of IETF working groups. It also describes the formal
   relationship between IETF participants WG and the Internet
   Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and the basic duties of IETF
   participants, including WG Chairs, WG participants, and IETF Area

Table of Contents

   Abstract .........................................................  1
   1. Introduction ..................................................  2
     1.1. IETF approach to standardization ..........................  4
     1.2. Roles within a Working Group ..............................  4
   2. Working group formation .......................................  4
     2.1. Criteria for formation ....................................  4
     2.2. Charter ...................................................  6
     2.3. Charter review & approval .................................  8
     2.4. Birds of a feather (BOF) ..................................  9
   3. Working Group Operation ....................................... 10
     3.1. Session planning .......................................... 11
     3.2. Session venue ............................................. 11
     3.3. Session management ........................................ 13
     3.4. Contention and appeals .................................... 15

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 1]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   4. Working Group Termination ..................................... 15
   5. Rechartering a Working Group .................................. 15
   6. Staff Roles ................................................... 16
     6.1. WG Chair .................................................. 16
     6.2. WG Secretary .............................................. 18
     6.3. Document Editor ........................................... 18
     6.4. WG Facilitator ............................................ 18
     6.5. Design teams .............................................. 19
     6.6. Working Group Consultant .................................. 19
     6.7. Area Director ............................................. 19
   7. Working Group Documents ....................................... 19
     7.1. Session documents ......................................... 19
     7.2. Internet-Drafts (I-D) ..................................... 19
     7.3. Request For Comments (RFC) ................................ 20
     7.4. Working Group Last-Call ................................... 20
     7.5. Submission of documents ................................... 21
   8. Review of documents ........................................... 21
   9. Security Considerations ....................................... 22
   10. Acknowledgments .............................................. 23
   11. References ................................................... 23
   12. Editor's Address ............................................. 23
   Appendix:  Sample Working Group Charter .......................... 24
   Full Copyright Statement ......................................... 26

1. Introduction

   The Internet, a loosely-organized international collaboration of
   autonomous, interconnected networks, supports host-to-host
   communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and
   procedures defined by Internet Standards.  There are also many
   isolated interconnected networks, which are not connected to the
   global Internet but use the Internet Standards. Internet Standards
   are developed in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  This
   document defines guidelines and procedures for IETF working groups.
   The Internet Standards Process of the IETF is defined in [1]. The
   organizations involved in the IETF Standards Process are described in
   [2] as are the roles of specific individuals.

   The IETF is a large, open community of network designers, operators,
   vendors, users, and researchers concerned with the Internet and the
   technology used on it. The primary activities of the IETF are
   performed by committees known as working groups. There are currently
   more than 100 working groups. (See the IETF web page for an up-to-
   date list of IETF Working Groups - http://www.ietf.org.) Working
   groups tend to have a narrow focus and a lifetime bounded by the
   completion of a specific set of tasks, although there are exceptions.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 2]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   For management purposes, the IETF working groups are collected
   together into areas, with each area having a separate focus.  For
   example, the security area deals with the development of security-
   related technology.  Each IETF area is managed by one or two Area
   Directors (ADs).  There are currently 8 areas in the IETF but the
   number changes from time to time.  (See the IETF web page for a list
   of the current areas, the Area Directors for each area, and a list of
   which working groups are assigned to each area.)

   In many areas, the Area Directors have formed an advisory group or
   directorate.  These comprise experienced members of the IETF and the
   technical community represented by the area.  The specific name and
   the details of the role for each group differ from area to area, but
   the primary intent is that these groups assist the Area Director(s),
   e.g., with the review of specifications produced in the area.

   The IETF area directors are selected by a nominating committee, which
   also selects an overall chair for the IETF.  The nominations process
   is described in [3].

   The area directors sitting as a body, along with the IETF Chair,
   comprise the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). The IETF
   Executive Director is an ex-officio participant of the IESG, as are
   the IAB Chair and a designated Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
   liaison.  The IESG approves IETF Standards and approves the
   publication of other IETF documents.  (See [1].)

   A small IETF Secretariat provides staff and administrative support
   for the operation of the IETF.

   There is no formal membership in the IETF.  Participation is open to
   all.  This participation may be by on-line contribution, attendance
   at face-to-face sessions, or both.  Anyone from the Internet
   community who has the time and interest is urged to participate in
   IETF meetings and any of its on-line working group discussions.
   Participation is by individual technical contributors, rather than by
   formal representatives of organizations.

   This document defines procedures and guidelines for the formation and
   operation of working groups in the IETF. It defines the relations of
   working groups to other bodies within the IETF. The duties of working
   group Chairs and Area Directors with respect to the operation of the
   working group are also defined.  When used in this document the key
   "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" are to be
   interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [6].  RFC 2119 defines the use
   of these key words to help make the intent of standards track
   documents as clear as possible.  The same key words are used in this

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 3]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   document to help smooth WG operation and reduce the chance for
   confusion about the processes.

1.1. IETF approach to standardization

   Familiarity with The Internet Standards Process [1] is essential for
   a complete understanding of the philosophy, procedures and guidelines
   described in this document.

1.2. Roles within a Working Group

   The document, "Organizations Involved in the IETF Standards Process"
   [2] describes the roles of a number of individuals within a working
   group, including the working group chair and the document editor.
   These descriptions are expanded later in this document.

2. Working group formation

   IETF working groups (WGs) are the primary mechanism for development
   of IETF specifications and guidelines, many of which are intended to
   be standards or recommendations. A working group may be established
   at the initiative of an Area Director or it may be initiated by an
   individual or group of individuals. Anyone interested in creating an
   IETF working group MUST obtain the advice and consent of the IETF
   Area Director(s) in whose area the working group would fall and MUST
   proceed through the formal steps detailed in this section.

   Working groups are typically created to address a specific problem or
   to produce one or more specific deliverables (a guideline, standards
   specification, etc.).  Working groups are generally expected to be
   short-lived in nature.  Upon completion of its goals and achievement
   of its objectives, the working group is terminated. A working group
   may also be terminated for other reasons (see section 4).
   Alternatively, with the concurrence of the IESG, Area Director, the
   WG Chair, and the WG participants, the objectives or assignment of
   the working group may be extended by modifying the working group's
   charter through a rechartering process (see section 5).

2.1. Criteria for formation

   When determining whether it is appropriate to create a working group,
   the Area Director(s) and the IESG will consider several issues:

    - Are the issues that the working group plans to address clear and
      relevant to the Internet community?

    - Are the goals specific and reasonably achievable, and achievable
      within a reasonable time frame?

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 4]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

    - What are the risks and urgency of the work, to determine the level
      of effort required?

    - Do the working group's activities overlap with those of another
      working group?  If so, it may still be appropriate to create the
      working group, but this question must be considered carefully by
      the Area Directors as subdividing efforts often dilutes the
      available technical expertise.

    - Is there sufficient interest within the IETF in the working
      group's topic with enough people willing to expend the effort to
      produce the desired result (e.g., a protocol specification)?
      Working groups require considerable effort, including management
      of the working group process, editing of working group documents,
      and contributing to the document text.  IETF experience suggests
      that these roles typically cannot all be handled by one person; a
      minimum of four or five active participants in the management
      positions are typically required in addition to a minimum of one
      or two dozen people that will attend the working group meetings
      and contribute on the mailing list.  NOTE: The interest must be
      broad enough that a working group would not be seen as merely the
      activity of a single vendor.

    - Is there enough expertise within the IETF in the working group's
      topic, and are those people interested in contributing in the
      working group?

    - Does a base of interested consumers (end-users) appear to exist
      for the planned work?  Consumer interest can be measured by
      participation of end-users within the IETF process, as well as by
      less direct means.

    - Does the IETF have a reasonable role to play in the determination
      of the technology?  There are many Internet-related technologies
      that may be interesting to IETF members but in some cases the IETF
      may not be in a position to effect the course of the technology in
      the "real world".  This can happen, for example, if the technology
      is being developed by another standards body or an industry

    - Are all known intellectual property rights relevant to the
      proposed working group's efforts issues understood?

    - Is the proposed work plan an open IETF effort or is it an attempt
      to "bless" non-IETF technology where the effect of input from IETF
      participants may be limited?

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 5]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

    - Is there a good understanding of any existing work that is
      relevant to the topics that the proposed working group is to
      pursue?  This includes work within the IETF and elsewhere.

    - Do the working group's goals overlap with known work in another
      standards body, and if so is adequate liaison in place?

   Considering the above criteria, the Area Director(s), using his or
   her best judgement, will decide whether to pursue the formation of
   the group through the chartering process.

2.2. Charter

   The formation of a working group requires a charter which is
   primarily negotiated between a prospective working group Chair and
   the relevant Area Director(s), although final approval is made by the
   IESG with advice from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).  A
   charter is a contract between a working group and the IETF to perform
   a set of tasks.  A charter:

   1. Lists relevant administrative information for the working group;
   2. Specifies the direction or objectives of the working group and
      describes the approach that will be taken to achieve the goals;
   3. Enumerates a set of milestones together with time frames for their

   When the prospective Chair(s), the Area Director and the IETF
   Secretariat are satisfied with the charter form and content, it
   becomes the basis for forming a working group. Note that an Area
   Director MAY require holding an exploratory Birds of a Feather (BOF)
   meeting, as described below, to gage the level of support for a
   working group before submitting the charter to the IESG and IAB for

   Charters may be renegotiated periodically to reflect the current
   status, organization or goals of the working group (see section 5).
   Hence, a charter is a contract between the IETF and the working group
   which is committing to meet explicit milestones and delivering
   specific "products".

   Specifically, each charter consists of the following sections:

   Working group name
      A working group name should be reasonably descriptive or
      identifiable. Additionally, the group shall define an acronym
      (maximum 8 printable ASCII characters) to reference the group in
      the IETF directories, mailing lists, and general documents.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 6]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

      The working group may have one or more Chairs to perform the
      administrative functions of the group. The email address(es) of
      the Chair(s) shall be included.  Generally, a working group is
      limited to two chairs.

   Area and Area Director(s)
      The name of the IETF area with which the working group is
      affiliated and the name and electronic mail address of the
      associated Area Director(s).

   Responsible Area Director
      The Area Director who acts as the primary IESG contact for the
      working group.

   Mailing list
      An IETF working group MUST have a general Internet mailing list.
      Most of the work of an IETF working group will be conducted on the
      mailing list. The working group charter MUST include:

      1. The address to which a participant sends a subscription request
         and the procedures to follow when subscribing,

      2. The address to which a participant sends submissions and
         special procedures, if any, and

      3. The location of the mailing list archive. A message archive
         MUST be maintained in a public place which can be accessed via
         FTP or via the web.

         As a service to the community, the IETF Secretariat operates a
         mailing list archive for working group mailing lists. In order
         to take advantage of this service, working group mailing lists
         MUST include the address "wg_acronym-archive@lists.ietf.org"
         (where "wg_acronym" is the working group acronym) in the
         mailing list in order that a copy of all mailing list messages
         be recorded in the Secretariat's archive.  Those archives are
         located at ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive.  For
         robustness, WGs SHOULD maintain an additional archive separate
         from that maintained by the Secretariat.

   Description of working group
      The focus and intent of the group shall be set forth briefly. By
      reading this section alone, an individual should be able to decide
      whether this group is relevant to their own work. The first
      paragraph must give a brief summary of the problem area, basis,
      goal(s) and approach(es) planned for the working group.  This
      paragraph can be used as an overview of the working group's

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 7]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998


      To facilitate evaluation of the intended work and to provide on-
      going guidance to the working group, the charter must describe the
      problem being solved and should discuss objectives and expected
      impact with respect to:

         - Architecture
         - Operations
         - Security
         - Network management
         - Scaling
         - Transition (where applicable)

   Goals and milestones
      The working group charter MUST establish a timetable for specific
      work items.  While this may be renegotiated over time, the list of
      milestones and dates facilitates the Area Director's tracking of
      working group progress and status, and it is indispensable to
      potential participants identifying the critical moments for input.
      Milestones shall consist of deliverables that can be qualified as
      showing specific achievement; e.g., "Internet-Draft finished" is
      fine, but "discuss via email" is not. It is helpful to specify
      milestones for every 3-6 months, so that progress can be gauged
      easily.  This milestone list is expected to be updated
      periodically (see section 5).

      An example of a WG charter is included as Appendix A.

2.3. Charter review & approval

   Proposed working groups often comprise technically competent
   participants who are not familiar with the history of Internet
   architecture or IETF processes.  This can, unfortunately, lead to
   good working group consensus about a bad design.  To facilitate
   working group efforts, an Area Director may assign a Consultant from
   among the ranks of senior IETF participants.  (Consultants are
   described in section 6.)  At the discretion of the Area Director,
   approval of a new WG may be withheld in the absence of sufficient
   consultant resources.

   Once the Area Director (and the Area Directorate, as the Area
   Director deems appropriate) has approved the working group charter,
   the charter is submitted for review by the IAB and approval by the
   IESG.  After a review period of at least a week the proposed charter
   is posted to the IETF-announce mailing list as a public notice that
   the formation of the working group is being considered.  At the same
   time the proposed charter is also posted to the "new-work" mailing

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 8]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   list.  This mailing list has been created to let qualified
   representatives from other standards organizations know about pending
   IETF working groups.  After another review period lasting at least a
   week the IESG MAY approve the charter as-is, it MAY request that
   changes be made in the charter, or MAY decline to approve chartering
   of the working group

   If the IESG approves the formation of the working group it remands
   the approved charter to the IETF Secretariat who records and enters
   the information into the IETF tracking database.  The working group
   is announced to the IETF-announce a by the IETF Secretariat.

2.4. Birds of a Feather (BOF)

   Often it is not clear whether an issue merits the formation of a
   working group.  To facilitate exploration of the issues the IETF
   offers the possibility of a Birds of a Feather (BOF) session, as well
   as the early formation of an email list for preliminary discussion.
   In addition, a BOF may serve as a forum for a single presentation or
   discussion, without any intent to form a working group.

   A BOF is a session at an IETF meeting which permits "market research"
   and technical "brainstorming".  Any individual may request permission
   to hold a BOF on a subject. The request MUST be filed with a relevant
   Area Director who must approve a BOF before it can be scheduled. The
   person who requests the BOF may be asked to serve as Chair of the

   The Chair of the BOF is also responsible for providing a report on
   the outcome of the BOF.  If the Area Director approves, the BOF is
   then scheduled by submitting a request to agenda@ietf.org with copies
   to the Area Director(s). A BOF description and agenda are required
   before a BOF can be scheduled.

   Available time for BOFs is limited, and BOFs are held at the
   discretion of the ADs for an area.  The AD(s) may require additional
   assurances before authorizing a BOF.  For example,

    - The Area Director MAY require the establishment of an open email
      list prior to authorizing a BOF.  This permits initial exchanges
      and sharing of framework, vocabulary and approaches, in order to
      make the time spent in the BOF more productive.

    - The Area Director MAY require that a BOF be held, prior to
      establishing a working group (see section 2.2).

    - The Area Director MAY require that there be a draft of the WG
      charter prior to holding a BOF.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                  [Page 9]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

    - The Area Director MAY require that a BOF not be held until an
      Internet-Draft describing the proposed technology has been
      published so it can be used as a basis for discussion in the BOF.

   In general, a BOF on a particular topic is held only once (ONE slot
   at one IETF Plenary meeting). Under unusual circumstances Area
   Directors may, at their discretion, allow a BOF to meet for a second
   time. BOFs are not permitted to meet three times.  Note that all
   other things being equal, WGs will be given priority for meeting
   space over BOFs.  Also, occasionally BOFs may be held for other
   purposes than to discuss formation of a working group.

   Usually the outcome of a BOF will be one of the following:

    - There was enough interest and focus in the subject to warrant the
      formation of a WG;

    - While there was a reasonable level of interest expressed in the
      BOF some other criteria for working group formation was not met
      (see section 2.1).

    - The discussion came to a fruitful conclusion, with results to be
      written down and published, however there is no need to establish
      a WG; or

    - There was not enough interest in the subject to warrant the
      formation of a WG.

3.  Working Group Operation

   The IETF has basic requirements for open and fair participation and
   for thorough consideration of technical alternatives.  Within those
   constraints, working groups are autonomous and each determines most
   of the details of its own operation with respect to session
   participation, reaching closure, etc. The core rule for operation is
   that acceptance or agreement is achieved via working group "rough
   consensus".  WG participants should specifically note the
   requirements for disclosure of conflicts of interest in [2].

   A number of procedural questions and issues will arise over time, and
   it is the function of the Working Group Chair(s) to manage the group
   process, keeping in mind that the overall purpose of the group is to
   make progress towards reaching rough consensus in realizing the
   working group's goals and objectives.

   There are few hard and fast rules on organizing or conducting working
   group activities, but a set of guidelines and practices has evolved
   over time that have proven successful. These are listed here, with

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 10]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   actual choices typically determined by the working group participants
   and the Chair(s).

3.1. Session planning

   For coordinated, structured WG interactions, the Chair(s) MUST
   publish a draft agenda well in advance of the actual session. The
   agenda should contain at least:

   - The items for discussion;
   - The estimated time necessary per item; and
   - A clear indication of what documents the participants will need to
     read before the session in order to be well prepared.

   Publication of the working group agenda shall include sending a copy
   of the agenda to the working group mailing list and to

   All working group actions shall be taken in a public forum, and wide
   participation is encouraged. A working group will conduct much of its
   business via electronic mail distribution lists but may meet
   periodically to discuss and review task status and progress, to
   resolve specific issues and to direct future activities.  IETF
   Plenary meetings are the primary venue for these face-to-face working
   group sessions, and it is common (though not required) that active
   "interim" face-to-face meetings, telephone conferences, or video
   conferences may also be held.  Interim meetings are subject to the
   same rules for advance notification, reporting, open participation,
   and process, which apply to other working group meetings.

   All working group sessions (including those held outside of the IETF
   meetings) shall be reported by making minutes available.  These
   minutes should include the agenda for the session, an account of the
   discussion including any decisions made, and a list of attendees. The
   Working Group Chair is responsible for insuring that session minutes
   are written and distributed, though the actual task may be performed
   by someone designated by the Working Group Chair. The minutes shall
   be submitted in printable ASCII text for publication in the IETF
   Proceedings, and for posting in the IETF Directories and are to be
   sent to: minutes@ietf.org

3.2. Session venue

   Each working group will determine the balance of email and face-to-
   face sessions that is appropriate for achieving its milestones.
   Electronic mail permits the widest participation; face-to-face
   meetings often permit better focus and therefore can be more
   efficient for reaching a consensus among a core of the working group

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 11]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   participants.  In determining the balance, the WG must ensure that
   its process does not serve to exclude contribution by email-only
   participants.  Decisions reached during a face-to-face meeting about
   topics or issues which have not been discussed on the mailing list,
   or are significantly different from previously arrived mailing list
   consensus MUST be reviewed on the mailing list.

   IETF Meetings
   If a WG needs a session at an IETF meeting, the Chair must apply for
   time-slots as soon as the first announcement of that IETF meeting is
   made by the IETF Secretariat to the WG-chairs list.  Session time is
   a scarce resource at IETF meetings, so placing requests early will
   facilitate schedule coordination for WGs requiring the same set of

   The application for a WG session at an IETF meeting MUST be made to
   the IETF Secretariat at the address agenda@ietf.org.  Some Area
   Directors may want to coordinate WG sessions in their area and
   request that time slots be coordinated through them.  If this is the
   case it will be noted in the IETF meeting announcement. A WG
   scheduling request MUST contain:

   - The working group name and full title;
   - The amount of time requested;
   - The rough outline of the WG agenda that is expected to be covered;
   - The estimated number of people that will attend the WG session;
   - Related WGs that should not be scheduled for the same time slot(s);
   - Optionally a request can be added for the WG session to be
     transmitted over the Internet in audio and video.

   NOTE: While open discussion and contribution is essential to working
   group success, the Chair is responsible for ensuring forward
   progress.  When acceptable to the WG, the Chair may call for
   restricted participation (but not restricted attendance!) at IETF
   working group sessions for the purpose of achieving progress. The
   Working Group Chair then has the authority to refuse to grant the
   floor to any individual who is unprepared or otherwise covering
   inappropriate material, or who, in the opinion of the Chair is
   disrupting the WG process.  The Chair should consult with the Area
   Director(s) if the individual persists in disruptive behavior.

   It can be quite useful to conduct email exchanges in the same manner
   as a face-to-face session, with published schedule and agenda, as
   well as on-going summarization and consensus polling.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 12]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   Many working group participants hold that mailing list discussion is
   the best place to consider and resolve issues and make decisions. The
   choice of operational style is made by the working group itself.  It
   is important to note, however, that Internet email discussion is
   possible for a much wider base of interested persons than is
   attendance at IETF meetings, due to the time and expense required to

   As with face-to-face sessions occasionally one or more individuals
   may engage in behavior on a mailing list which disrupts the WG's
   progress.  In these cases the Chair should attempt to discourage the
   behavior by communication directly with the offending individual
   rather than on the open mailing list.  If the behavior persists then
   the Chair must involve the Area Director in the issue.  As a last
   resort and after explicit warnings, the Area Director, with the
   approval of the IESG, may request that the mailing list maintainer
   block the ability of the offending individual to post to the mailing
   list. (If the mailing list software permits this type of operation.)
   Even if this is done, the individual must not be prevented from
   receiving messages posted to the list.  Other methods of mailing list
   control may be considered but must be approved by the AD(s) and the

3.3. Session management

   Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process.
   IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although
   this is, of course, preferred.  In general, the dominant view of the
   working group shall prevail.  (However, it must be noted that
   "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or
   persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement.) Consensus
   can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on
   which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course).  Note that 51%
   of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is
   better than rough.  It is up to the Chair to determine if rough
   consensus has been reached.

   It can be particularly challenging to gauge the level of consensus on
   a mailing list.  There are two different cases where a working group
   may be trying to understand the level of consensus via a mailing list
   discussion. But in both cases the volume of messages on a topic is
   not, by itself, a good indicator of consensus since one or two
   individuals may be generating much of the traffic.

   In the case where a consensus which has been reached during a face-
   to-face meeting is being verified on a mailing list the people who
   were in the meeting and expressed agreement must be taken into
   account.  If there were 100 people in a meeting and only a few people

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 13]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   on the mailing list disagree with the consensus of the meeting then
   the consensus should be seen as being verified.  Note that enough
   time should be given to the verification process for the mailing list
   readers to understand and consider any objections that may be raised
   on the list.  The normal two week last-call period should be
   sufficient for this.

   The other case is where the discussion has been held entirely over
   the mailing list.  The determination of the level of consensus may be
   harder to do in this case since most people subscribed to mailing
   lists do not actively participate in discussions on the list. It is
   left to the discretion of the working group chair how to evaluate the
   level of consensus.  The most common method used is for the working
   group chair to state what he or she believes to be the consensus view
   and. at the same time, requests comments from the list about the
   stated conclusion.

   The challenge to managing working group sessions is to balance the
   need for open and fair consideration of the issues against the need
   to make forward progress.  The working group, as a whole, has the
   final responsibility for striking this balance.  The Chair has the
   responsibility for overseeing the process but may delegate direct
   process management to a formally-designated Facilitator.

   It is occasionally appropriate to revisit a topic, to re-evaluate
   alternatives or to improve the group's understanding of a relevant
   decision.  However, unnecessary repeated discussions on issues can be
   avoided if the Chair makes sure that the main arguments in the
   discussion (and the outcome) are summarized and archived after a
   discussion has come to conclusion. It is also good practice to note
   important decisions/consensus reached by email in the minutes of the
   next 'live' session, and to summarize briefly the decision-making
   history in the final documents the WG produces.

   To facilitate making forward progress, a Working Group Chair may wish
   to decide to reject or defer the input from a member, based upon the
   following criteria:

   The input pertains to a topic that already has been resolved and is
   redundant with information previously available;

   The input is new and pertains to a topic that has already been
   resolved, but it is felt to be of minor import to the existing

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 14]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   The input pertains to a topic that the working group has not yet
   opened for discussion; or

   The input is outside of the scope of the working group charter.

3.4. Contention and appeals

   Disputes are possible at various stages during the IETF process. As
   much as possible the process is designed so that compromises can be
   made, and genuine consensus achieved; however, there are times when
   even the most reasonable and knowledgeable people are unable to
   agree.  To achieve the goals of openness and fairness, such conflicts
   must be resolved by a process of open review and discussion.

   Formal procedures for requesting a review of WG, Chair, Area Director
   or IESG actions and conducting appeals are documented in The Internet
   Standards Process [1].

4. Working Group Termination

   Working groups are typically chartered to accomplish a specific task
   or tasks.  After the tasks are complete, the group will be disbanded.
   However, if a WG produces a Proposed or Draft Standard, the WG will
   frequently become dormant rather than disband (i.e., the WG will no
   longer conduct formal activities, but the mailing list will remain
   available to review the work as it moves to Draft Standard and
   Standard status.)

   If, at some point, it becomes evident that a working group is unable
   to complete the work outlined in the charter, or if the assumptions
   which that work was based have been modified in discussion or by
   experience, the Area Director, in consultation with the working group
   can either:

   1. Recharter to refocus its tasks,
   2. Choose new Chair(s), or
   3. Disband.

   If the working group disagrees with the Area Director's choice, it
   may appeal to the IESG (see section 3.4).

5. Rechartering a Working Group

   Updated milestones are renegotiated with the Area Director and the
   IESG, as needed, and then are submitted to the IESG Secretariat:

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 15]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   Rechartering (other than revising milestones) a working group follows
   the same procedures that the initial chartering does (see section 2).
   The revised charter must be submitted to the IESG and IAB for
   approval.  As with the initial chartering, the IESG may approve new
   charter as-is, it may request that changes be made in the new charter
   (including having the Working Group continue to use the old charter),
   or it may decline to approve the rechartered working group.  In the
   latter case, the working group is disbanded.

6. Staff Roles

   Working groups require considerable care and feeding.  In addition to
   general participation, successful working groups benefit from the
   efforts of participants filling specific functional roles.  The Area
   Director must agree to the specific people performing the WG Chair,
   and Working Group Consultant roles, and they serve at the discretion
   of the Area Director.

6.1. WG Chair

   The Working Group Chair is concerned with making forward progress
   through a fair and open process, and has wide discretion in the
   conduct of WG business.  The Chair must ensure that a number of tasks
   are performed, either directly or by others assigned to the tasks.

   The Chair has the responsibility and the authority to make decisions,
   on behalf of the working group, regarding all matters of working
   group process and staffing, in conformance with the rules of the
   IETF.  The AD has the authority and the responsibility to assist in
   making those decisions at the request of the Chair or when
   circumstances warrant such an intervention.

   The Chair's responsibility encompasses at least the following:

   Ensure WG process and content management

      The Chair has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that a working
      group achieves forward progress and meets its milestones.  The
      Chair is also responsible to ensure that the working group
      operates in an open and fair manner.  For some working groups,
      this can be accomplished by having the Chair perform all
      management-related activities.  In other working groups --
      particularly those with large or divisive participation -- it is
      helpful to allocate process and/or secretarial functions to other
      participants.  Process management pertains strictly to the style
      of working group interaction and not to its content. It ensures
      fairness and detects redundancy.  The secretarial function
      encompasses document editing.  It is quite common for a working

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 16]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

      group to assign the task of specification Editor to one or two
      participants.  Sometimes, they also are part of the design team,
      described below.

   Moderate the WG email list

      The Chair should attempt to ensure that the discussions on this
      list are relevant and that they converge to consensus agreements.
      The Chair should make sure that discussions on the list are
      summarized and that the outcome is well documented (to avoid
      repetition).  The Chair also may choose to schedule organized on-
      line "sessions" with agenda and deliverables.  These can be
      structured as true meetings, conducted over the course of several
      days (to allow participation across the Internet).

      Organize, prepare and chair face-to-face and on-line formal

   Plan WG Sessions

      The Chair must plan and announce all WG sessions well in advance
      (see section 3.1).

   Communicate results of sessions

      The Chair and/or Secretary must ensure that minutes of a session
      are taken and that an attendance list is circulated (see section

      Immediately after a session, the WG Chair MUST provide the Area
      Director with a very short report (approximately one paragraph,
      via email) on the session.

   Distribute the workload

      Of course, each WG will have participants who may not be able (or
      want) to do any work at all. Most of the time the bulk of the work
      is done by a few dedicated participants. It is the task of the
      Chair to motivate enough experts to allow for a fair distribution
      of the workload.

   Document development

      Working groups produce documents and documents need authors. The
      Chair must make sure that authors of WG documents incorporate
      changes as agreed to by the WG (see section 6.3).

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 17]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   Document publication

      The Chair and/or Document Editor will work with the RFC Editor to
      ensure document conformance with RFC publication requirements [5]
      and to coordinate any editorial changes suggested by the RFC
      Editor.  A particular concern is that all participants are working
      from the same version of a document at the same time.

   Document implementations

      Under the procedures described in [1], the Chair is responsible
      for documenting the specific implementations which qualify the
      specification for Draft or Internet Standard status along with
      documentation about testing of the interoperation of these

6.2. WG Secretary

   Taking minutes and editing working group documents often is performed
   by a specifically-designated participant or set of participants.  In
   this role, the Secretary's job is to record WG decisions, rather than
   to perform basic specification.

6.3. Document Editor

   Most IETF working groups focus their efforts on a document, or set of
   documents, that capture the results of the group's work.  A working
   group generally designates a person or persons to serve as the Editor
   for a particular document.  The Document Editor is responsible for
   ensuring that the contents of the document accurately reflect the
   decisions that have been made by the working group.

   As a general practice, the Working Group Chair and Document Editor
   positions are filled by different individuals to help ensure that the
   resulting documents accurately reflect the consensus of the working
   group and that all processes are followed.

6.4. WG Facilitator

   When meetings tend to become distracted or divisive, it often is
   helpful to assign the task of "process management" to one
   participant.  Their job is to oversee the nature, rather than the
   content, of participant interactions.  That is, they attend to the
   style of the discussion and to the schedule of the agenda, rather
   than making direct technical contributions themselves.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 18]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

6.5. Design teams

   It is often useful, and perhaps inevitable, for a sub-group of a
   working group to develop a proposal to solve a particular problem.
   Such a sub-group is called a design team.  In order for a design team
   to remain small and agile, it is acceptable to have closed membership
   and private meetings.  Design teams may range from an informal chat
   between people in a hallway to a formal set of expert volunteers that
   the WG chair or AD appoints to attack a controversial problem.  The
   output of a design team is always subject to approval, rejection or
   modification by the WG as a whole.

6.6. Working Group Consultant

   At the discretion of the Area Director, a Consultant may be assigned
   to a working group.  Consultants have specific technical background
   appropriate to the WG and experience in Internet architecture and
   IETF process.

6.7. Area Director

   Area Directors are responsible for ensuring that working groups in
   their area produce coherent, coordinated, architecturally consistent
   and timely output as a contribution to the overall results of the

7.  Working Group Documents

7.1. Session documents

   All relevant documents to be discussed at a session should be
   published and available as Internet-Drafts at least two weeks before
   a session starts.  Any document which does not meet this publication
   deadline can only be discussed in a working group session with the
   specific approval of the working group chair(s).  Since it is
   important that working group members have adequate time to review all
   documents, granting such an exception should only be done under
   unusual conditions.  The final session agenda should be posted to the
   working group mailing list at least two weeks before the session and
   sent at that time to agenda@ietf.org for publication on the IETF web

7.2. Internet-Drafts (I-D)

   The Internet-Drafts directory is provided to working groups as a
   resource for posting and disseminating in-process copies of working
   group documents. This repository is replicated at various locations
   around the Internet. It is encouraged that draft documents be posted

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 19]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   as soon as they become reasonably stable.

   It is stressed here that Internet-Drafts are working documents and
   have no official standards status whatsoever. They may, eventually,
   turn into a standards-track document or they may sink from sight.
   Internet-Drafts are submitted to: internet-drafts@ietf.org

   The format of an Internet-Draft must be the same as for an RFC [2].
   Further, an I-D must contain:

   - Beginning, standard, boilerplate text which is provided by the
     Secretariat on their web site and in the ftp directory;
   - The I-D filename; and
   - The expiration date for the I-D.

   Complete specification of requirements for an Internet-Draft are
   found in the file "1id-guidelines.txt" in the Internet-Drafts
   directory at an Internet Repository site.  The organization of the
   Internet-Drafts directory is found in the file "1id-organization" in
   the Internet-Drafts directory at an Internet Repository site.  This
   file also contains the rules for naming Internet-Drafts.  (See [1]
   for more information about Internet-Drafts.)

7.3. Request For Comments (RFC)

   The work of an IETF working group often results in publication of one
   or more documents, as part of the Request For Comments (RFCs) [1]
   series. This series is the archival publication record for the
   Internet community. A document can be written by an individual in a
   working group, by a group as a whole with a designated Editor, or by
   others not involved with the IETF.

   NOTE: The RFC series is a publication mechanism only and publication
   does not determine the IETF status of a document.  Status is
   determined through separate, explicit status labels assigned by the
   IESG on behalf of the IETF.  In other words, the reader is reminded
   that all Internet Standards are published as RFCs, but NOT all RFCs
   specify standards [4].

7.4. Working Group Last-Call

   When a WG decides that a document is ready for publication it may be
   submitted to the IESG for consideration. In most cases the
   determination that a WG feels that a document is ready for
   publication is done by the WG Chair issuing a working group Last-
   Call.  The decision to issue a working group Last-Call is at the
   discretion of the WG Chair working with the Area Director.  A working
   group Last-Call serves the same purpose within a working group that

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 20]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   an IESG Last-Call does in the broader IETF community (see [1]).

7.5. Submission of documents

   Once that a WG has determined at least rough consensus exists within
   the WG for the advancement of a document the following must be done:

   - The version of the relevant document exactly as agreed to by the WG
     MUST be in the Internet-Drafts directory.

   - The relevant document MUST be formatted according to section 7.3.

   - The WG Chair MUST send email to the relevant Area Director.  A copy
     of the request MUST be also sent to the IESG Secretariat.  The mail
     MUST contain the reference to the document's ID filename, and the
     action requested.  The copy of the message to the IESG Secretariat
     is to ensure that the request gets recorded by the Secretariat so
     that they can monitor the progress of the document through the

   Unless returned by the IESG to the WG for further development,
   progressing of the document is then the responsibility of the IESG.
   After IESG approval, responsibility for final disposition is the
   joint responsibility of the RFC Editor, the WG Chair and the Document

8. Review of documents

   The IESG reviews all documents submitted for publication as RFCs.
   Usually minimal IESG review is necessary in the case of a submission
   from a WG intended as an Informational or Experimental RFC. More
   extensive review is undertaken in the case of standards-track

   Prior to the IESG beginning their deliberations on standards-track
   documents, IETF Secretariat will issue a "Last-Call" to the IETF
   mailing list (see [1]). This Last Call will announce the intention of
   the IESG to consider the document, and it will solicit final comments
   from the IETF within a period of two weeks.  It is important to note
   that a Last-Call is intended as a brief, final check with the
   Internet community, to make sure that no important concerns have been
   missed or misunderstood. The Last-Call should not serve as a more
   general, in-depth review.

   The IESG review takes into account responses to the Last-Call and
   will lead to one of these possible conclusions:

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 21]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   1. The document is accepted as is for the status requested.
      This fact will be announced by the IETF Secretariat to the IETF
      mailing list and to the RFC Editor.

   2. The document is accepted as-is but not for the status requested.
      This fact will be announced by the IETF Secretariat to the IETF
      mailing list and to the RFC Editor (see [1] for more details).

   3. Changes regarding content are suggested to the author(s)/WG.
      Suggestions from the IESG must be clear and direct, so as to
      facilitate working group and author correction of the
      specification.  If the author(s)/WG can explain to the
      satisfaction of the IESG why the changes are not necessary, the
      document will be accepted for publication as under point 1, above.
      If the changes are made the revised document may be resubmitted
      for IESG review.

   4. Changes are suggested by the IESG and a change in status is
      The process described above for 3 and 2 are followed in that

   5. The document is rejected.
      Any document rejection will be accompanied by specific and
      thorough arguments from the IESG. Although the IETF and working
      group process is structured such that this alternative is not
      likely to arise for documents coming from a working group, the
      IESG has the right and responsibility to reject documents that the
      IESG feels are fatally flawed in some way.

      If any individual or group of individuals feels that the review
      treatment has been unfair, there is the opportunity to make a
      procedural complaint. The mechanism for this type of complaints is
      described in [1].

9. Security Considerations

   Documents describing IETF processes, such as this one, do not have an
   impact on the security of the network infrastructure or of Internet

   It should be noted that all IETF working groups are required to
   examine and understand the security implications of any technology
   they develop.  This analysis must be included in any resulting RFCs
   in a Security Considerations section.  Note that merely noting a
   significant security hole is no longer sufficient.  IETF developed
   technologies should not add insecurity to the environment in which
   they are run.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 22]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

10. Acknowledgments

   This revision of this document relies heavily on the previous version
   (RFC 1603) which was edited by Erik Huizer and Dave Crocker.  It has
   been reviewed by the Poisson Working Group.

11. References

   [1] Bradner, S., Editor, "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
       3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [2] Hovey, R., and S. Bradner, "The Organizations involved in the
       IETF Standards Process", BCP 11, RFC 2028, October 1996.

   [3] Gavin, J., "IAB and IESG Selection, Confirmation, and Recall
       Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Committees", BCP
       10, RFC 2282, February 1998.

   [4] Huitema, C., J. Postel, S. Crocker, "Not all RFCs are Standards",
       RFC 1796, April 1995.

   [5] Postel, J., and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors", RFC
       2223, October 1997.

   [6] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
       Level", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

12. Editor's Address

   Scott Bradner
   Harvard University
   1350 Mass Ave.
   Cambridge MA

   Phone +1 617 495 3864
   EMail: sob@harvard.edu

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 23]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   Appendix:  Sample Working Group Charter

   Working Group Name:
        IP Telephony (iptel)

   IETF Area:
        Transport Area

        Jonathan Rosenberg <jdrosen@bell-labs.com>

   Transport Area Director(s):
        Scott Bradner <sob@harvard.edu>
        Allyn Romanow <allyn@mci.net>

   Responsible Area Director:
        Allyn Romanow <allyn@mci.net>

   Mailing Lists:
        General Discussion:iptel@lists.research.bell-labs.com
        To Subscribe: iptel-request@lists.research.bell-labs.com
        Archive: http://www.bell-labs.com/mailing-lists/siptel

   Description of Working Group:

   Before Internet telephony can become a widely deployed service, a
   number of protocols must be deployed. These include signaling and
   capabilities exchange, but also include a number of "peripheral"
   protocols for providing related services.

   The primary purpose of this working group is to develop two such
   supportive protocols and a frameword document. They are:

   1. Call Processing Syntax. When a call is setup between two
   endpoints, the signaling will generally pass through several servers
   (such as an H.323 gatekeeper) which are responsible for forwarding,
   redirecting, or proxying the signaling messages. For example, a user
   may make a call to j.doe@bigcompany.com. The signaling message to
   initiate the call will arrive at some server at bigcompany. This
   server can inform the caller that the callee is busy, forward the
   call initiation request to another server closer to the user, or drop
   the call completely (among other possibilities). It is very desirable
   to allow the callee to provide input to this process, guiding the
   server in its decision on how to act. This can enable a wide variety
   of advanced personal mobility and call agent services.

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 24]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

   Such preferences can be expressed in a call processing syntax, which
   can be authored by the user (or generated automatically by some
   tool), and then uploaded to the server. The group will develop this
   syntax, and specify means of securely transporting and extending it.
   The result will be a single standards track RFC.

   2. In addition, the group will write a service model document, which
   describes the services that are enabled by the call processing
   syntax, and discusses how the syntax can be used. This document will
   result in a single RFC.

   3. Gateway Attribute Distribution Protocol. When making a call
   between an IP host and a PSTN user, a telephony gateway must be used.
   The selection of such gateways can be based on many criteria,
   including client expressed preferences, service provider preferences,
   and availability of gateways, in addition to destination telephone
   number.  Since gateways outside of the hosts' administrative domain
   might be used, a protocol is required to allow gateways in remote
   domains to distribute their attributes (such as PSTN connectivity,
   supported codecs, etc.) to entities in other domains which must make
   a selection of a gateway. The protocol must allow for scalable,
   bandwidth efficient, and very secure transmission of these
   attributes. The group will investigate and design a protocol for this
   purpose, generate an Internet Draft, and advance it to RFC as

   Goals and Milestones:

   May 98    Issue first Internet-Draft on service framework
   Jul 98    Submit framework ID to IESG for publication as an RFC.
   Aug 98    Issue first Internet-Draft on Call Processing Syntax
   Oct 98    Submit Call processing syntax to IESG for consideration
             as a Proposed Standard.
   Dec 98    Achieve consensus on basics of gateway attribute
             distribution protocol
   Jan 99    Submit Gateway Attribute Distribution protocol to IESG
             for consideration as a RFC (info, exp, stds track TB

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 25]

RFC 2418                Working Group Guidelines          September 1998

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

Bradner                  Best Current Practice                 [Page 26]