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Network Working Group                                     J. N. Brownlee
Internet-Draft                                                U Auckland
Intended status: Informational                              26 June 2020
Expires: 28 December 2020

                   Changes to the RFC Series and RSE


   This document discusses the impact of changes to the RFC Series on
   the RFC Production Centre, the need for the RFC Series Editor to be
   independent of the Series Input Streams (the I* groups), and a
   suggested Editorial Board for the Series Editor.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 28 December 2020.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  RSE Responsibilities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Changes to the RFC Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Support for the RSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   5.  Independence of the RSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   8.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   9.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   10. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   Appendix A.  Change log [RFC Editor: Please remove.]  . . . . . .   6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   Over the last few weeks the rfced-future mailing list has discussed
   topics such as:

   *  What are the responsibilities of the RFC Series Editor?

   *  How should changes to the RFC Series be handled?

   *  Where does the RFC Series Editor (RSE) fit, relative to the RFC
      input Streams, i.e. the IAB, IESG, IRTF and Independent
      Submissions Editor (ISE)?

   *  What does _independent_ mean for the RSE?

   *  How could the RSE be effectively supported?

   This draft addresses those topics in a little more detail.

   The history of our "new formats" in Section 3 of this draft comes
   from my own experiences on their Design Team.  I present them here
   because I feel that many IETF participants have not considered just
   how much work is required to make changes to the RFC Series.
   Otherwise, opinions expressed in this draft are purely my own.

2.  RSE Responsibilities

   RFC Series Editor Responsibilities are clearly set out in [RFC8729],
   "The RFC Series and RFC Editor", February 2020.

   These responsibilities have been discussed extensively on the *rfced-
   future@iab.org* mailing list.  I believe that they do not need to be
   further discussed at this time.

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3.  Changes to the RFC Series

   Our last RSE was appointed (and contracted directly by ISOC) in 2011.
   Her first few years were busy:

   *  About one year to get up to speed with the RFC Production Centre

   *  Two years and three BOFs to come up with [RFC6949], "RFC Series
      Format Requirements," May _2013_.

   *  Another three years for a large design team (at least 8 members)
      to produce [RFC7990], "RFC Format Framework", December _2016_,
      [RFC7991], "The _'xml2rfc'_ Version 3 Vocabulary", and RFCs 7992
      to 7998, which covered other details of the "new" formats.

   *  Implementation of xml2rfc v3 tools by the IETF Tools Team, mostly
      as contracted work.

   RFC 7990 recognised that it would take time to implement these
   changes; its' section 10.2, "Testing and Transition" said:

   Feedback will result in regular iteration of the basic code and XML
   vocabulary.  In order to limit the amount of time the RFC Production
   Center (RPC) spends on testing and quality assurance (QA), their
   priority will be to edit and publish documents; therefore, community
    assistance will be necessary to help move this stage along.

   The critical points here are:

   1.  Changes must not impact productivity of the RPC.

   2.  Development and testing of _any_ changes will take significant

   3.  Development will need regular iterations.

4.  Support for the RSE

   Because changes to the RFC Series take months or years, the RSE's
   term needs to be for a minimum term of - say - five years.  The RSE
   needs a Support Group, similar to an IETF WG, that the RSE can use to
   discuss issues arising, and to determine community support for any
   new change proposals.  That Support Group must be independent of any
   of our I* groups, e.g. of the IAB, IETF, IRTF and ISE.

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   The RSE has such a group already, that's the RFC Series Advisory
   Group (RSAG), its members all have extensive knowledge of publishing
   in general and the RFC Series in particular.  However, its members
   have all been recruited over the years by successive RFC Editors, and
   they provide _advice_, not _oversight_.  Right now the RFC Editor
   Future Development Program seems to be an effective oversight group
   for the RSE, however it's an IAB Program, which implies that the IAB
   has oversight of it.

   I suggest that:

   *  The RFC Editor Future Development Program should be separated from
      the IAB, to become a free-standing 'RFC Series Editorial Board'

      The RSEB is not an oversight or management committee.  It is
      constituted as follows:

      1.  Each of the Series Input Streams appoints an ex officio
          representative (non-voting).

      2.  The RSEB has 5 voting members, with staggered 3-year terms.

      3.  The voting members are selected by a NomCom, preferably an
          ISOC NomCom, and approved by the IAB.  (The term "voting" is
          used here only as a way to minimise demands from any of the
          Streams - we don't believe in voting!)

      4.  The RSAB is responsible for approving the RSE's general
          policy; RPC contracts and performance are handled by the IETF
          Administration LLC.

   *  When suggestions for changes to the RFC Series arise, the RSE and
      RSEB will discuss them so as to achieve rough consensus within the
      RSEB.  Any such consensus will be further discussed on the rfc-
      interest list, so as to reach a wider consensus within the IETF
      participants, as well as the IRTF and the RFC-using community, as
      far as practicable.

   *  If consensus-agreed changes require new tools:

      1.  If suitable (open-source) tools exist, we should use them.

      2.  Otherwise, a (part-time) Project Manager should be employed to
          oversee their implementation.

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5.  Independence of the RSE

   [I-D.carpenter-rfc-principles], section 3.2 "The RFC Series Editor,"
   describes the RSE as "an _independent_ professional editor, serving a
   much wider community than just the IETF."

   _Independence,_ in this context, has been extensively discussed on
   the rfced-future mailing list.  To summarise:

   *  The RSE cannot refuse to publish a submission from any of the four
      Input Streams for _technical_ reasons.  Technical consensus will
      already have been reached within the submitting Stream.

   *  The RSE, however, may send back a submission because it would
      require an unreasonable amount of editing to conform to a proper
      RFC Style.  In such a case the submitting Stream should help the
      submission's authors to improve it before resubmitting it to the

6.  Conclusion

   This draft recounts the history of the RFC's "new formats" work from
   about 2012 to 2018, making the point that such changes can be large-
   scale projects that take several years to complete.  Any further
   changes to the Series must therefore be carefully considered, with
   the RSE overseeing a clear consensus process before any
   implementation work is begun.

   Other issues such as where the RSE belongs relative to our I* groups,
   and what degree of independence the RSE should have, are discussed.
   As well, some suggestions are made as to how they could be addressed.

   Feedback for improvements on those suggestions, or any other aspects
   of this draft, will help it's author to improve it; please send
   comments to me at the "Author's Address" below.

7.  Security Considerations

   This draft concerns organisational matters rather than networking
   matters.  It therefore does not have any network security concerns.

8.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no request of the IANA.

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9.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to all those contributing to discussions on the rfced-future
   mailing list.  Those discussions have been wide-ranging, informative
   and useful.

   Thanks especially to Brian Carpenter.  His draft
   [I-D.carpenter-rfc-principles] motivated me to produce this one.

10.  References

              Carpenter, B., "Principles of the Request for Comments
              Series", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-
              carpenter-rfc-principles-01, 17 May 2020,

   [RFC6949]  Flanagan, H. and N. Brownlee, "RFC Series Format
              Requirements and Future Development", RFC 6949,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6949, May 2013,

   [RFC7990]  Flanagan, H., "RFC Format Framework", RFC 7990,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7990, December 2016,

   [RFC7991]  Hoffman, P., "The "xml2rfc" Version 3 Vocabulary",
              RFC 7991, DOI 10.17487/RFC7991, December 2016,

   [RFC8729]  Housley, R., Ed. and L. Daigle, Ed., "The RFC Series and
              RFC Editor", RFC 8729, DOI 10.17487/RFC8729, February
              2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8729>.

Appendix A.  Change log [RFC Editor: Please remove.]

   1.  draft-brownlee-rfc-changes-and-the-RSE-00

       *  Initial version, 25 May 2020

   2.  draft-brownlee-rfc-changes-and-the-RSE-01

       *  Revision 1, 26 June 2020.  Removed 'Oversight' section,
          replaced it with 'RSEB' section.

Author's Address

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   Nevil Brownlee
   School of Computer Science
   University of Auckland
   Private Bag 92019
   Auckland 1142
   New Zealand

   Email: nevil.brownlee@gmail.com

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