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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 RFC 3683

Network Working Group                                            M. Rose
Internet-Draft                              Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.
Expires: May 26, 2004                                  November 26, 2003


      A Practice for Revoking Posting Rights to IETF mailing lists
                      draft-mrose-ietf-posting-04

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on May 26, 2004.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003). All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   All self-governing bodies have ways of managing the scope of
   participant interaction. The IETF uses a consensus-driven process for
   developing computer-communications standards in an open fashion. An
   important part of this consensus-driven process is the pervasive use
   of mailing lists for discussion. Notably, in a small number of cases,
   a participant has engaged in a "denial-of-service" attack to disrupt
   the consensus-driven process. Regrettably, as these bad faith attacks
   become more common, the IETF needs to establish a practice that
   reduces or eliminates these attacks. This memo recommends such a
   practice for use by the IETF.






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Table of Contents

   1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2. A Revocation Practice  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   4. Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
      Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
      Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   A. Q & A  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
      Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . .  12









































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1. Introduction

   All self-governing bodies have ways of managing the scope of
   participant interaction. For example, deliberative assemblies often
   employ "rules of order" for determining who gets to speak, when, and
   for how long. Similarly, there is widespread agreement in so-called
   "liberal" societies that the right to free speech is not absolute,
   e.g., political speech is given more leeway than commercial speech,
   and some forms of speech (e.g., egregious libel or incitement to
   violence) are considered unacceptable.

   The IETF uses a consensus-driven process for developing
   computer-communications standards in an open fashion. An important
   part of this consensus-driven process is the pervasive use of mailing
   lists for discussion. Unlike many other organizations, anyone may
   post messages on those IETF mailing lists, and in doing so,
   participate in the IETF process. Historically, this approach has
   worked very well in the IETF, as it fosters participation from a wide
   range of stakeholders. (For the purposes of this memo, the term "IETF
   mailing list" refers to any mailing list functioning under IETF
   auspices, such as the IETF general discussion list,, or a working
   group or design team mailing list.)

   Notably, in a small number of cases, a participant has engaged in
   what ammounts to a "denial-of-service" attack to disrupt the
   consensus-driven process. Typically, these attacks are made by
   repeatedly posting messages that are off-topic, inflammatory, or
   otherwise counter-productive. In contrast, good faith disagreement is
   a healthy part of the consensus-driven process.

   For example, if a working group is unable to reach consensus, this is
   an acceptable, albeit unfortunate, outcome; however, if that working
   group fails to achieve consensus because it is being continuously
   disrupted, then the disruption constitutes an abuse of the
   consensus-driven process. Interactions of this type are fundamentally
   different from "the lone voice of dissent" in which a participant
   expresses a view that is discussed but does not achieve consensus. In
   other words, individual bad faith should not trump community
   goodwill.












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   Guidelines have been developed for dealing with abusive behavior
   (c.f., Section 3.2 of [1] and [2]). Although not exhaustive, examples
   of abusive or othewise inappropriate postings to IETF mailing lists
   include:

   o  unsolicited bulk e-mail;

   o  discussion of subjects unrelated to IETF policy, meetings,
      activities, or technical concerns;

   o  unprofessional commentary, regardless of the general subject; and,

   o  announcements of conferences, events, or activities that are not
      sponsored or endorsed by the Internet Society or IETF.

   In practice, the application of those guidelines has included the
   temporary suspension of posting rights to a specific mailing list. If
   necessary, the length of the suspension has been increased with each
   successive suspension. In many cases, applying those guidelines will
   produce the desired modification in behaviour. However, when those
   guidelines fail to provide the desired modification in behaviour,
   more drastic measures should be available to reduce or eliminate
   these attacks' impact on the IETF process.

   This document describes one such drastic measure.


























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2. A Revocation Practice

   Please refer to [3] for the meaning conveyed by the uppercase words
   in this section.

   As a part of its activities, the Internet Engineering Steering Group
   (IESG) makes decisions about "actions". Typically, an action refers
   to the publication of a document on the standards-track, the
   chartering of a working group, and so on. This memo recommends that
   the IESG also undertake a new type of action, termed a PR-action
   ("posting rights" action).

   A PR-action identifies one or more individuals, citing messages
   posted by those individuals to an IETF mailing list, that appear to
   be abusive of the consensus-driven process. If approved by the IESG,
   then:

   o  those identified on the PR-action have their posting rights to
      that IETF mailing list removed; and,

   o  maintainers of any IETF mailing list may, at their discretion,
      also remove posting rights to that IETF mailing list.

   Once taken, this action remains in force until explicitly nullified
   and SHOULD remain in force for at least one year.

   One year after the PR-action is approved, a new PR-action MAY be
   introduced which restores the posting rights for that individual. The
   IESG SHOULD consider the frequency of nullifying requests when
   evaluating a new PR-action. If the posting rights are restored the
   individual is responsible for contacting the owners of the mailing
   lists to have them restored.

   Regardless of whether the PR-action revokes or restores posting
   rights, the IESG follows the same algorithm as with its other
   actions:

   1.  it is introduced by an IESG Area Director (AD), who, prior to
       doing so, may choose to inform the interested parties;

   2.  is is published as an IESG last call on the IETF general
       discussion list;

   3.  it is discussed by the community;

   4.  it is discussed by the IESG; and, finally,

   5.  using the usual consensus-based process, it is decided upon by



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       the IESG.

   Of course, as with all IESG actions, the appeals process outlined in
   [4] may be invoked to contest a PR-action approved by the IESG.

   Working groups SHOULD ensure that their associated mailing list is
   manageable. For example, some may try to circumvent the revocation of
   their posting rights by changing email addresses; accordingly it
   should be possible to restrict the new email address.

   Finally, note that the scope of a PR-action deals solely with posting
   rights. Consistent with the final paragraph of Section 3.2 of [1], no
   action may be taken to prevent individuals from receiving messages
   sent to a mailing list.





































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3. Acknowledgements

   The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of: Brian
   Carpenter, Jim Galvin, Jeff Haas, Ted Hardie, Russ Housley, Thomas
   Narten, Jon Peterson, Margaret Wasserman, and Bert Wijnen.














































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4. Security Considerations

   This memo deals with matters of process, not protocol.

   A reasonable person might note that this memo describes a mechanism
   to throttle active denial-of-service attacks againast the
   consensus-drive process used by the IETF.












































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Normative References

   [1]  Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures", BCP
        25, RFC 2418, September 1998.

   [2]  Harris, S., "IETF Discussion List Charter", BCP 45, RFC 3005,
        November 2000.

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

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


Author's Address

   Marshall T. Rose
   Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.
   POB 255268
   Sacramento, CA  95865-5268
   US

   Phone: +1 916 483 8878
   EMail: mrose@dbc.mtview.ca.us


























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Appendix A. Q & A

   Q: Isn't a year too long?

   A: No.

      An initial PR-action is not undertaken lightly. It is approved
      only after a period of substantive consideration and community
      review. If a PR-action is approved, then this indicates that a
      serious situation has arisen.

   Q: Why not require one PR-action per IETF mailing list?

   A: To do so would enable a prolonged series of denial-of-service
      attacks.

      If someone is poorly-behaved on one IETF mailing list, but
      well-behaved on another, then the maintainer for the second IETF
      mailing list needn't revoke posting rights. However, the more
      likely scenario is that someone who behaves poorly on one IETF
      mailing list is unwilling to be well-behaved on any IETF mailing
      list.

   Q: Should the initiation of a PR-action come from outside the IESG?

   A: Informally, sure; formally, no.

      Under the IETF's consensus-driven process, IESG actions are always
      formally initiated by an IESG Area Director (AD). In practice, the
      motivation for an IESG member to initiate an action almost always
      comes from outside the IESG. For example, when a working group
      (WG) reaches consensus on a document, the WG chair informs the
      relevant AD that the document is ready for the AD to consider it
      for a document action. In the case of this document -- an IETF
      individual submission -- the author will iteratively circulate the
      document for wide discussion and make revisions. At some point,
      the author will contact an AD and ask for a document action to
      publish this document as a Best Current Practice (BCP).

   Q: Is this censorship?

   A: Only if you believe in anarchy.

      What is important is that the rules surrounding PR-actions exhibit
      the same properties used by the rest of the consensus-based
      process.





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   Q: C'mon! You really are a closet fascist.

   A: No, I'm a libertarian.

      Frankly, I would prefer that people behave reasonably and act in
      good faith. Since my first involvement with the IETF (nee GADS,
      circa 1983), everyone understood that reasonable behavior was a
      good thing. After 20 years, I regret to inform you that this step
      is inevitable.










































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Intellectual Property Statement

   The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
   intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to
   pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in
   this document or the extent to which any license under such rights
   might or might not be available; neither does it represent that it
   has made any effort to identify any such rights. Information on the
   IETF's procedures with respect to rights in standards-track and
   standards-related documentation can be found in BCP-11. Copies of
   claims of rights made available for publication and any assurances of
   licenses to be made available, or the result of an attempt made to
   obtain a general license or permission for the use of such
   proprietary rights by implementors or users of this specification can
   be obtained from the IETF Secretariat.

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
   rights which may cover technology that may be required to practice
   this standard. Please address the information to the IETF Executive
   Director.


Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003). All Rights Reserved.

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   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
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   TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
   BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION



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   HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
   MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


Acknowledgment

   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.











































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