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rfced-future                                                  M. Thomson
Internet-Draft                                                   Mozilla
Updates: 4844, 6635 (if approved)                            6 July 2020
Intended status: Informational
Expires: 7 January 2021

            A Proposed Model for RFC Editing and Publication


   The finishing process for a document that is approved for publication
   as an RFC currently involves a somewhat detailed and lengthy process.
   The system that executes that process involves a number of different
   actors, each bringing competency with different aspects of the
   overall process.  Ensuring that this process functions smoothly is
   critical to the mission of the organizations that publish documents
   in the RFC series.

   This document proposes a framework for that system that aims to
   provide clear delineations of accountability and responsibility for
   each of the actors in this system.

Discussion Venues

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   Discussion of this document takes place on the RFC Editor Futures
   program mailing list (rfced-future@iab.org), which is archived at

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

Status of This Memo

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

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 7 January 2021.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (https://trustee.ietf.org/
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
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   provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Conventions and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Abstract Model  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Funding and Oversight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     4.1.  IETF LLC Delegation of Oversight Function . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Evolution and Setting Policies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     5.1.  Individual Interactions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.2.  The Needs of Different Streams  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.3.  Style Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   6.  Tooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   7.  Management of Individual Functions  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   8.  Other Involved Entities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   9.  Notable Differences from Version 2  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   10. Documentation Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   11. Errors and Omissions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   12. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   13. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   14. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     14.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     14.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15

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1.  Introduction

   The RFC Editor Model [MODEL] describes a system that supports the
   process of editing and publication of RFCs.

   The process of RFC editing and publication takes inputs in the form
   of documents that are approved for publication by one of four streams
   (IETF, IRTF, IAB, and Idependent Submissions).  The output is an RFC.

   Generally speaking, this system is successful if RFCs are produced at
   a rate approximating the rate that documents are approved for
   publication.  In addition to managing throughput, the overall latency
   should be minimized and the quality of documents should be sufficient
   to serve the ends of the consumers of those documents.

   In practice, the demands placed on the editing and publication
   process mean that this function is quite involved.  Furthermore, the
   exact goals that this system serves continually evolves.  The current
   system has evolved out of a relatively simple system, into something
   like what is described in [MODEL] with multiple discrete roles and
   somewhat complex interactions between each.

   This document attempts to describe an evolution of the current model,
   drawing on experience from successes and failures from operating that
   model, but based purely on the very high-level abstraction of that

   This document starts out by building from a simple (even simplistic)
   model of the system, then builds that out incrementally.  The goal is
   to progressively expand on the relevance of the model in addressing
   different problems that have been identified as important, or to draw
   in each of the relevant actors in the system and to attribute
   responsibilities (and associated authority) to each.

2.  Conventions and Definitions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
   BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

3.  Abstract Model

   The highest-level abstraction is shown in Figure 1.

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     +-------------+        +-------------+
     | IETF Stream +------->+             +----->
     +-------------+   D    |             |
     +-------------+   o    |             |
     | IRTF Stream +---c--->+ RFC         +-----> R
     +-------------+   u    | Editing     |       F
     +-------------+   m    | and         |       C
     | IAB Stream  +---e--->+ Publication +-----> s
     +-------------+   n    |             |
     +-------------+   t    |             |
     | Independent +---s--->+             +----->
     +-------------+        +-------------+

                 Figure 1: Simplified RFC Production Model

   In this model, each of the four document streams produce documents
   that are approved for publication according to the processes of those
   streams.  Each stream is an independent client of a single entity
   that provides services in support of publishing documents as RFCs.
   These services have numerous facets, but the core services are copy
   editing of documents, the preparation of documents for publication,
   and the publication of documents.

   At a high level, each of the streams is an independent customer of
   the function of RFC Editing and Publication (REP).  Informally, the
   entity (or entities) that perform the REP function are contracted to
   turn approved documents into RFCs.

4.  Funding and Oversight

   The entity that performs the REP function holds contracts with the
   IETF LLC, who also provides payment for those contracted services.
   This means that the REP function is ultimately answerable to the IETF
   LLC with respect to performance.

   Currently, the IETF LLC delegates some of its authority to another
   body.  This allows the IETF LLC to rely on the expertise of
   volunteers from the community in performing oversight.  The IETF LLC
   currently delegates this function to the RFC Series Oversight
   Committee (RSOC) via the IAB.  This indirection has caused some
   problems and this document proposes that oversight be a function that
   the IETF LLC be responsible for, either directly or through a
   delegation process that is managed by the IETF LLC.

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   The IETF LLC therefore has authority over negotiating performance
   targets for the REP and the responsibility of ensuring that those
   targets are adhered to.  The IETF LLC is empowered to appoint a
   manager or to convene a committee that is responsible for this
   oversight function.

   Community members who have concerns about the performance of the REP
   can request that the IETF LLC investigate the matter.  If the IETF
   LLC opts to delegate the oversight function, concerns can be raised
   with the IETF LLC.  The IETF LLC is ultimately responsible to the
   community via the mechanisms outlined in its charter [LLC].

   This results in evolving the basic model as shown in Figure 2.

                                 | IETF |
                                 | LLC  |
                                    | Contract &
                                    | Oversight
   +-------------+        +-------------+
   | IETF Stream +------->+             +----->
   +-------------+   D    |             |
   +-------------+   o    |             |
   | IRTF Stream +---c--->+ RFC         +-----> R
   +-------------+   u    | Editing     |       F
   +-------------+   m    | and         |       C
   | IAB Stream  +---e--->+ Publication +-----> s
   +-------------+   n    |             |
   +-------------+   t    |             |
   | Independent +---s--->+             +----->
   +-------------+        +-------------+

                 Figure 2: Oversight and Funding Functions

   This shows the IETF LLC having budgetary and contractual oversight
   over the REP.

4.1.  IETF LLC Delegation of Oversight Function

   The current organization tasks the RSOC with responsibility for
   oversight.  This has lead to numerous questions about the extent of
   authority delegated to the RSOC and the responsibilities of various
   entities that the RSOC is tasked with interacting with.

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   This document avoids these questions by placing this authority
   directly with the IETF LLC.  However, the oversight function is one
   that the IETF LLC is expected to delegate, either to an individual or

   Any delegation would ideally result in the creation of a a document
   governing how the delegation was structured.  This is not that
   document, but this assumes that the person or persons who are given
   oversight responsibility would be responsible for managing contract
   and performance for the RSEP.  Any appeal or dispute with the actions
   of this individual or committee would then be taken up with the IETF

5.  Evolution and Setting Policies

   Setting the policies that set targets for REP performance and more
   detailed requirements for operation of their functions has
   historically been delegated to the RSOC.  This document proposes
   separating that function.  The goal is to improve the ability of the
   community (across all streams) to set and evolve policies.

   The requirements of each of the streams changes over time.  The goal
   is to find a system that allows the community to develop consensus
   around the strategic direction for the evolution of the RFC Series.

   In terms of structure of this effort, the community has a set of
   well-understood and tested systems for developing consensus.
   Therefore, this document proposes that strategic goals for the RFC
   Series are developed using the working group process [WG] used in the

   Concretely, this proposes forming a RFC Series Evolution program of
   the IAB that uses the auspices of an IAB program, one that closely
   follows the model proposed in [RSEME].  This results in a group that
   follows [WG] procedures, with the exception that the functions
   performed by the IESG are instead performed by the IAB.  In
   particular, selection of chairs and appeals regarding the execution
   of the process are directed to the IAB to resolve.

   It is important that this group adopt code of conduct, anti-
   harrassment, and other policies.  Again, existing IETF processes -
   collectively referred to in the Note Well - are well-suited to this

   Any strategic direction that is produced by this process will be
   documented in RFCs.  These will need to be framed as high-level goals
   and priorities rather than strict requirements.  It will be up to the
   IETF LLC - or their delegate - to negotiate with the REP function

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   about the execution for any changes.  In negotiating the execution of
   strategy, the IETF LLC is expected to factor in relevant factors such
   as cost, legal constraints, or schedule.

   The IETF LLC is also responsible for ensuring that the plans for
   implementation of strategic goals is published and available to the

   This results in the model shown in Figure 3.

                                 | IAB  |
                                    | Oversight
                              | RFC Series |
                              | Evolution  |
                              | Program    |
                                    | Strategy
                                 | IETF |
                                 | LLC  |
                                    | Contract &
                                    | Oversight
   +-------------+        +---------+---+
   | IETF Stream +------->+             +----->
   +-------------+   D    |             |
   +-------------+   o    |             |
   | IRTF Stream +---c--->+ RFC         +-----> R
   +-------------+   u    | Editing     |       F
   +-------------+   m    | and         |       C
   | IAB Stream  +---e--->+ Publication +-----> s
   +-------------+   n    |             |
   +-------------+   t    |             |
   | Independent +---s--->+             +----->
   +-------------+        +-------------+

                 Figure 3: Evolution and Strategy Additions

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5.1.  Individual Interactions

   It is important to recognize that the interface to the REP function
   is most often through individual authors (or chairs, document
   shepherds, and area directors) and individual REP staff.

   In those interactions, those individuals might find problems with
   processes or might be motivated to make suggestions for improvement.
   The goal of the RFC Series Evolution program is to provide a single
   venue for discussion of changes to REP requirements, processes, and

5.2.  The Needs of Different Streams

   The singular group responsible for evolution of the RFC Series as a
   whole is a simplification that is made to reduce contention in
   setting strategic goals.  It is important to note that the needs of
   different streams can be different.

   Several factors motivate a single group that sets strategy.
   Historically, the IETF stream is responsible for a large proportion
   of the documents in the series.  That is unlikely to change and
   experience has shown that other streams are - for the most part -
   willing to accept that strategic direction is largely dictated by the
   needs of the most prolific user of the REP service.

   It is important that each stream retain control over the content of
   documents that are published on that stream.  Streams currently
   appoint a stream manager who is allocated authority over content on
   that stream and responsibility to manage any problems that might
   arise in handling documents produced by that stream.  This document
   proposes that this aspect of the role continue.

   Stream managers are also involved in discussion of changes to REP
   processes and they contribute to the development of strategic
   direction for the RFC series.  Rather than deal with issues of REP
   processes directly, stream managers are expected to initiate
   discussion or make proposals to the RFC Series Evolution program.  To
   avoid conflicts of interest, it is expected that stream managers will
   be active participants - and not chairs - in this program.

5.3.  Style Guide

   One question that arises when considering policy is that of the Style
   Guide [RFC7322] and supporting material.  These materials are
   critical to the process of editing and therefore require that they be
   owned and maintained.

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   The current process requires that the RFC Series Editor produce and
   maintain this material.  This document proposes that the RFC Series
   Evolution program become responsible for ownership of this material.

   However, it is recognized that the REP service will likely be the
   ones to encounter the need to make updates to material.  The RFC
   Series Evolution program will need clear processes for reporting
   problems.  As problems of this nature often arise during document
   processing, they can require expedient solutions.  To that end, the
   process should allow for the REP service to make and record

   The nature of the process the RFC Series Evolution program uses might
   change over time.  Any changes need to be clearly communicated and
   changes negotiated with the REP.  This negotiation is to be
   facilitated by the IETF LLC or their delegate.

6.  Tooling

   Producing an RFC relies heavily on tools that help automate many
   aspects of the process.  Using tools contributes to consistency and
   better performance of the REP function.

   In one version of this model, the tools that are used by the REP
   function are the responsibility of the function.  However, the larger
   system benefits from a degree of consistency between the tools used
   by each stream to produce documents and the tools used in the editing
   and publication stage.  In practice, these tools are shared and a
   great deal of benefit is derived from that arrangement.

   A number of different organizational arrangements could be conceived
   of for arranging this situation.  For instance, the REP could be
   tasked with producing and maintaining tools that it is required to
   also make available to the community of people that produce
   documents.  The current arrangement is that the REP develops some of
   its own tools, but it also depends on tools that are maintained by
   the IETF LLC.

   Reflecting that arrangement, we have the final composition of
   functions as shown in Figure 4.

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                                   | IAB  |
                                      | Oversight
   +-------------+ Participate  | RFC Series |
   |  Community  +------------->+ Evolution  |
   +-----+-------+              | Program    |
         ^                      +-----+------+
         |                            |
         | Provide Tools              | Strategy
         |                            v
   +-----+-------+                 +--+---+
   |    Tools    |     Contract(s) | IETF |
   | Maintenance +<----------------+ LLC  |
   +-----+-------+                 +--+---+
         |                            |
         +--Provide-Tools-------+     | Contract &
                                |     | Oversight
                                v     v
     +-------------+        +---+-----+---+
     | IETF Stream +------->+             +----->
     +-------------+   D    |             |
     +-------------+   o    |             |
     | IRTF Stream +---c--->+ RFC         +-----> R
     +-------------+   u    | Editing     |       F
     +-------------+   m    | and         |       C
     | IAB Stream  +---e--->+ Publication +-----> s
     +-------------+   n    |             |
     +-------------+   t    |             |
     | Independent +---s--->+             +----->
     +-------------+        +-------------+

                           Figure 4: Final Model

   This arrangement means that any dependencies the REP might have for
   tools need to be coordinated via the entity responsible for managing
   the maintenance of tooling.  The IETF LLC is ultimately responsible
   for ensuring that the tools maintenance function has processes for
   managing the requirements of the REP.  As with the REP oversight
   functions, this might also be delegated at the discretion of the IETF

   If meeting new requirements set by the IETF LLC require new or
   modified tooling, it is the responsibility of the REP to formulate
   requests regarding to tools to the Tools Maintenance function.

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   Any problems arising from this arrangement will be raised with the
   IETF LLC as they pertain to meeting operational goals.

7.  Management of Individual Functions

   This model does not specify strong requirements on the management of
   any of the functions it describes.  It is expected that each function
   identified here will be managed in a manner appropriate to the
   function that it serves.

   Any choice by the IETF LLC to delegate oversight responsibility to a
   committee might require that the committee will need decision-making
   processes.  The IETF LLC is ultimately responsible for ensuring that
   these processes are appropriate and effective.  The IETF LLC
   processes regarding consultation with and accountability to the
   broader IETF community are deemed sufficient.

   The choice of leadership for the RFC Series Evolution program could
   become more important with a move to a system that lacks a single
   figurehead.  Two measures are suggested to mitigate the potential for
   this position to become a function replacement for the RSE position:

   *  The IAB should appoint at least two co-chairs.  This is already
      good practice for working groups as it provides redundancy in case
      of absence or conflict of interest.

   *  The IAB should seek new chairs at regular intervals and seek to
      limit the period over which any one individual might hold a
      leadership position in the program.

   These are suggestions to the IAB only, not hard requirements.

   If the function of the REP is contracted to a single entity, it would
   be the responsibility of that entity to provide appropriate
   management.  That management would be expected to manage the workload
   involved in providing core REP functions like editing and
   publication, arranging and planning for changes in response to
   upcoming requirements, and reporting on status and performance.

   For the tools maintenance function, contracting of tools development
   and maintenance currently involves multiple entities.  Therefore, it
   might be necessary for the IETF LLC to contract for a role to manage
   coordination of tools maintenance.  Arranging for appropriate
   management, along with systems for establishing accountability to the
   community, enabling community contributions, and dealing with dispute
   or contention is left to the IETF LLC.

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8.  Other Involved Entities

   Many documents involve actions for IANA that are processed as part of
   the REP processing.  These processes need to be captured and

   This draft describes a model whereby the RFC Series Advisory Group
   and the RFC Series Editorial Board have no future as these are
   functions that serve the a role that does not exist in this model.
   These august bodies embody a great deal of collected wisdom regarding
   the RFC Series.  It is this author's earnest hope that these
   individuals will continue to lend their efforts in the form of
   contributions to the development of strategy.

   This draft proposes that the RFC Series Oversight Committee (RSOC) be
   disbanded.  Many of the functions provided by the RSOC are now an
   IETF LLC responsibility in this model.  If the IETF LLC decides to
   form a committee, the experience of RSOC procedures and former
   personnel might be used as a resource.

9.  Notable Differences from Version 2

   This proposal does not describe a role for a RFC Series Editor.

   The functions previously served by this individual are devolved into
   several pieces.  The REP function is expanded to cover both RFC
   Production Center (RPC) and RFC Publisher as well as the operational
   management responsibilities formerly adopted by the RFC Series

   The responsibility for managing the evolution of the series is
   delegated to a consensus-based group rather than being vested in an
   individual.  Previous RFC Series Editors achieved much of the
   strategic and evolutionary functions of their role by building
   community consensus, so this aspect of the role is essentially
   transferred to the chairs of the RFC Series Evolution program.

   Any responsibility for execution of RFC Series strategy that might
   have been the responsibility of a RFC Series Editor has been
   distributed: the IETF LLC is responsible for turning strategy into
   requests; the REP is responsible for executing these requests.  As
   the RPC (or publisher) was previously ultimately responsible for
   execution of any strategy, the functional difference is minimal.

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   Moving away from a model where a single individual is involved in
   setting direction for the RFC Series is significant.  This proposal
   vests that control in a consensus-based body instead, which means
   that decisive action is likely no longer a feature of this system.
   As the emphasis of the group is on longer-term strategy, this is not
   anticipated to be a practical problem.

   This proposal combines the RFC Production Center and RFC Publisher
   functions.  These have been conjoined in practice for many years
   already and so this merely formalizes a standing arrangement.

10.  Documentation Requirements

   This model depends on the production of a document (or set of
   documents) that outlines the initial set of requirements for the
   operation of the REP.  Much of this already exists in the form of
   previous service agreements [RPC-SA] and the expectation is that
   these documents can be adapted.  These documents will become the
   resposibility of the IETF LLC.

   Over time, some of the material from service agreements and contract
   are expected to move to strategic documents maintained by the RFC
   Series Evolution program.

   The RFC Series Evolution program will be responsible for maintaining
   this document, along with other documents that describe the RFC
   Series, such as [MODEL], [RFC-SERIES], and [BOILERPLATE].  Continuing
   publication of these documents on the IAB represents no change to
   existing practice.

11.  Errors and Omissions

   This is a draft.  At this stage, it is intended to just show the
   general outline of the model.  As details are filled in, everything
   here is liable to change.  There are likely many errors, omissions,
   and inconsistencies.

   There are lots of small details in [MODEL] that are still likely
   relevant and would need to be tweaked to fit within the proposed

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12.  Security Considerations

   Much of the success of systems like this can be attributed to the
   dilligent work of individuals who strive to resolve issues
   collaboratively.  Generally speaking, it is good to assume that this
   will continue.  However, this document does attempt to establish
   where authority lies for any particular decision in case of lapses or

   This document aims to provide some measure of security against
   failure of any single person to execute their function in good faith.
   That doesn't mean that a malicious actor operating in any of the
   critical roles could not choose to be extremely disruptive.  In
   addition to some expectation of reasonableness, this system defines
   entities (often bodies) to whom each actor is answerable or who are
   empowered to resolve disputes.

13.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no request of IANA.

14.  References

14.1.  Normative References

   [MODEL]    Kolkman, O., Ed., Halpern, J., Ed., and IAB, "RFC Editor
              Model (Version 2)", RFC 6635, DOI 10.17487/RFC6635, June
              2012, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6635>.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

   [WG]       Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, DOI 10.17487/RFC2418,
              September 1998, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2418>.

14.2.  Informative References

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              Halpern, J., Ed., Daigle, L., Ed., and O. Kolkman, Ed.,
              "RFC Streams, Headers, and Boilerplates", RFC 7841,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7841, May 2016,

   [LLC]      Haberman, B., Hall, J., and J. Livingood, "Structure of
              the IETF Administrative Support Activity, Version 2.0",
              BCP 101, RFC 8711, DOI 10.17487/RFC8711, February 2020,

              Kolkman, O., Ed., Halpern, J., Ed., and IAB, "RFC Editor
              Model (Version 2)", RFC 6635, DOI 10.17487/RFC6635, June
              2012, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6635>.

   [RFC7322]  Flanagan, H. and S. Ginoza, "RFC Style Guide", RFC 7322,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7322, September 2014,

   [RPC-SA]   IAOC, ., "RFC Production Center Services Agreement", 1
              January 2016, <https://iaoc.ietf.org/documents/ISOC-AMS-

   [RSEME]    Flanagan, H., "RFC Series Model Process", Work in
              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-flanagan-rseme-03, 19
              November 2019, <http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-


   This is not new thinking.  You might, if you were so inclined, find
   all of these concepts in emails or documents from other people.

Author's Address

   Martin Thomson

   Email: mt@lowentropy.net

Thomson                  Expires 7 January 2021                [Page 15]

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