|Title||The Tao of IETF - A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet
Engineering Task Force
|Author||IETF Secretariat, G. Malkin
Network Working Group IETF Secretariat
Request for Comments: 1718 CNRI
Obsoletes: 1539, 1391 G. Malkin
FYI: 17 Xylogics, Inc.
Category: Informational November 1994
The Tao of IETF
A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard. Distribution of this memo is
Over the last two years, the attendance at Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF) plenary meetings has grown phenomenally. Approximately
one third of the attendees are new to the IETF at each meeting, and
many of those go on to become regular attendees. When the meetings
were smaller, it wasn't very difficult for a newcomer to get into the
swing of things. Today, however, a newcomer meets many more new
people, some previously known only as the authors of documents or
thought provoking e-mail messages.
The purpose of this For Your Information (FYI) RFC is to explain to
the newcomers how the IETF works. This will give them a warm, fuzzy
feeling and enable them to make the meeting more productive for
everyone. This FYI will also provide the mundane bits of information
which everyone who attends an IETF meeting should know.
Due to the nature of this document, it can become outdated quite
quickly. To overcome this problem, a WorldWide Web version has been
created that is constantly maintained (the URL is listed below). If
you have a WWW client (such as Mosaic), it is suggested that you view
the on-line version in lieu of this document. This document will be
republished as an FYI RFC every year to year-and-a-half to help those
who do not have access to the WorldWide Web.
URL for this document: <http://www.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us/tao.html>.
URL for IETF: <http://www.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us/home.html>.
Table of Contents
Section 1 - The "Fun" Stuff
What is the IETF? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Humble Beginnings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
IETF Mailing Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Newcomers' Orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Dress Code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Terminal Room . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Social Event . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Other General Things . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Section 2 - The "You've got to know it" Stuff
Registration Bullets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Mailing Lists and Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Important E-mail Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
IETF Proceedings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
InterNIC Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Be Prepared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
RFCs and Internet-Drafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers) . . . . . . . 17
Pointers to Useful Documents and Files . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Section 3 - The "Reference" Stuff
Tao . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
IETF Area Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Acronyms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
What is the IETF?
The Internet Engineering Task Force is a loosely self-organized group
of people who make technical and other contributions to the
engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies. It
is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet
standard specifications. Its mission includes:
o Identifying, and proposing solutions to, pressing operational and
technical problems in the Internet;
o Specifying the development or usage of protocols and the near-term
architecture to solve such technical problems for the Internet;
o Making recommendations to the Internet Engineering Steering Group
(IESG) regarding the standardization of protocols and protocol
usage in the Internet;
o Facilitating technology transfer from the Internet Research Task
Force (IRTF) to the wider Internet community; and
o Providing a forum for the exchange of information within the
Internet community between vendors, users, researchers, agency
contractors and network managers.
The IETF meeting is not a conference, although there are technical
presentations. The IETF is not a traditional standards organization,
although many specifications are produced that become standards. The
IETF is made up of volunteers who meet three times a year to fulfill
the IETF mission.
There is no membership in the IETF. Anyone may register for and
attend any meeting. The closest thing there is to being an IETF
member is being on the IETF or working group mailing lists (see the
IETF Mailing Lists section). This is where the best information
about current IETF activities and focus can be found.
The 1st IETF meeting was held in January, 1986 at Linkabit in San
Diego with 15 attendees. The 4th IETF, held at SRI in Menlo Park in
October, 1986, was the first at which non-government vendors
attended. The concept of working groups was introduced at the 5th
IETF meeting at the NASA Ames Research Center in California in
February, 1987. The 7th IETF, held at MITRE in McLean, Virginia in
July, 1987, was the first meeting with over 100 attendees.
The 14th IETF meeting was held at Stanford University in July, 1989.
It marked a major change in the structure of the IETF universe. The
IAB (then Internet Activities Board, now Internet Architecture
Board), which until that time oversaw many "task forces," changed its
structure to leave only two: the IETF and the IRTF. The IRTF is
tasked to consider the long-term research problems in the Internet.
The IETF also changed at that time.
After the Internet Society (ISOC) was formed in January, 1992, the
IAB proposed to ISOC that the IAB's activities should take place
under the auspices of the Internet Society. During INET92 in Kobe,
Japan, the ISOC Trustees approved a new charter for the IAB to
reflect the proposed relationship.
The IETF met in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in July, 1993. This was
the the first IETF meeting held in Europe, and the US/non-US attendee
split was nearly 50/50. A second European meeting is scheduled for
July 1995 in Stockholm, Sweden.
To completely understand the structure of the IETF, it is useful to
understand the overall structure in which the IETF resides. There
are four groups in the structure: the ISOC and its Board of Trustees,
the IAB, the IESG and the IETF itself.
The Internet Society is a professional society that is concerned with
the growth and evolution of the worldwide Internet, with the way in
which the Internet is and can be used, and with the social,
political, and technical issues which arise as a result. The ISOC
Trustees are responsible for approving appointments to the IAB from
among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominating committee.
The IAB is a technical advisory group of the ISOC. It is chartered
to provide oversight of the architecture of the Internet and its
protocols, and to serve, in the context of the Internet standards
process, as a body to which the decisions of the IESG may be
appealed. The IAB is responsible for approving appointments to the
IESG from among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominations
The IESG is responsible for technical management of IETF activities
and the Internet standards process. As part of the ISOC, it
administers the process according to the rules and procedures which
have been ratified by the ISOC Trustees. The IESG is directly
responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement
along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of
specifications as Internet Standards.
The IETF is divided into eight functional areas. They are:
Applications, Internet, Network Management, Operational Requirements,
Routing, Security, Transport and User Services. Each area has one or
two area directors. The area directors, along with the IETF/IESG
Chair, form the IESG. Paul Mockepetris is the current IETF/IESG
Each area has several working groups. A working group is a group of
people who work under a charter to achieve a certain goal. That goal
may be the creation of an Informational document, the creation of a
protocol specification, or the resolution of problems in the
Internet. Most working groups have a finite lifetime. That is, once
a working group has achieved its goal, it disbands. As in the IETF,
there is no official membership for a working group. Unofficially, a
working group member is somebody who is on that working group's
mailing list; however, anyone may attend a working group meeting (see
the Be Prepared section below).
Areas may also have Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions. They
generally have the same goals as working groups, except that they
have no charter and usually only meet once or twice. BOFs are often
held to determine if there is enough interest to form a working
IETF Mailing Lists
Anyone who plans to attend an IETF meeting should join the IETF
announcement mailing list. This is where all of the meeting
information, Internet-Draft and RFC announcements, and IESG Protocol
Actions and Last Calls are posted. People who would like to "get
technical" may also join the IETF discussion list,
"email@example.com". This is where discussions of cosmic
significance are held (most working groups have their own mailing
lists for discussions related to their work). To join the IETF
announcement list, send a request to:
To join the IETF discussion list, send a request to:
To join both of the lists, simply send a single message, to either
"-request" address, and indicate that you'd like to join both lists.
Do not, ever, under any circumstances, for any reason, send a request
to join a list to the list itself! The thousands of people on the
list don't need, or want, to know when a new person joins.
Similarly, when changing e-mail addresses or leaving a list, send
your request only to the "-request" address, not to the main list.
This means you!!
The IETF discussion list is unmoderated. This means that anyone can
express their opinions about issues affecting the Internet. However,
it is not a place for companies or individuals to solicit or
advertise. Only the Secretariat can send messages to the
Even though the IETF mailing lists "represent" the IETF membership at
large, it is important to note that attending an IETF meeting does
not automatically include addition to either mailing list.
As previously mentioned, all meeting announcements are sent to the
IETF announcement list. Within the IETF meeting announcement is a
registration form and complete instructions for registering,
including, of course, the cost. The Secretariat highly recommends
that attendees preregister. Early registration, which ends about one
month before the meeting, carries a lower registration fee. As the
size of the meetings has grown, so has the length of the lines at the
registration desk. There are two lines: "paid" (which moves very
quickly), and "not paid" (which moves slowly).
Registration is open all week. However, the Secretariat highly
recommends that attendees arrive for early registration, beginning at
18:00 (meeting local time), on the Sunday before the opening plenary.
Not only will there be fewer people, but there will also be a
reception at which people can get a bite to eat. If the registration
lines are long, one can eat first and try again when the lines are
Registered attendees (and there isn't any other kind) receive a
registration packet. It contains a general orientation sheet, the
at-a-glance sheet, a list of working group acronyms, the most recent
agenda and a name tag. The at-a-glance is a very important reference
and is used throughout the week. It contains working group and BOF
room assignments and a map of room locations. Attendees who prepaid
will also find their receipt in their packet.
Newcomers are encouraged to attend the IETF Newcomers' Orientation.
As the name implies, it is an orientation for first-time attendees to
IETF meetings. The orientation is organized and conducted by the
IETF Secretariat and is intended to provide useful introductory
information. The IETF Secretariat is made up of Cynthia Clark, Steve
Coya, Debra Legare, John Stewart and Megan Walnut.
The orientation is typically about an hour long and covers a number
of topics: what's in the attendee packets, what all the dots on name
tags mean and how to read the at-a-glance. There is also discussion
about the structure of the IETF and the Internet standards process.
There is ample time at the end for questions. The Secretariat also
provides handouts which include an overview of the IETF, a list of
important files available on-line and hard copies of the slides of
the "structure and standards" presentation.
The orientation is held on Sunday afternoon before the registration
reception. However, attending the orientation does NOT mean you can
go to the reception early!
Since attendees must wear their name tags, they must also wear shirts
or blouses. Pants or skirts are also highly recommended. Seriously
though, many newcomers are often embarrassed when they show up Monday
morning in suits, to discover that everybody else is wearing t-
shirts, jeans (shorts, if weather permits) and sandals. There are
those in the IETF who refuse to wear anything other than suits.
Fortunately, they are well known (for other reasons) so they are
forgiven this particular idiosyncrasy. The general rule is "dress
for the weather" (unless you plan to work so hard that you won't go
outside, in which case, "dress for comfort" is the rule!).
Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes
Some of the people at the IETF will have a little colored dot on
their name tag. A few people have more than one. These dots
identify people who are silly enough to volunteer to do a lot of
extra work. The colors have the following meanings:
blue - working group/BOF chair
green - local Host
red - IAB member
yellow - IESG member
Local hosts are the people who can answer questions about the
terminal room, restaurants and points of interest in the area.
Some people have gold stars on their name tags. The stars indicate
that those people chaired working groups or BOFs in the IETF area
which submitted all of its working group/BOF minutes and area report
from the previous meeting first. The stars are the Secretariat's way
of saying "thank you" for providing the necessary information
It is important that newcomers to the IETF not be afraid to strike up
conversations with people who wear these dots. If the IAB and IESG
members and working group and BOF chairs didn't want to talk to
anybody, they wouldn't be wearing the dots in the first place.
In addition, members of the Secretariat wear blue tinted name badges
so they can be spotted at a distance.
To make life simpler for the Secretariat, registration packets are
also coded with little colored dots. These are only for Secretariat
use, so nobody else needs to worry about them. Please, don't peel
them off your packet and put them on your name tag.
One of the most important (depending on your point of view) things
the local host does is provide Internet access to the meeting
attendees. In general, the connectivity is excellent. This is
entirely due to the Olympian efforts of the local hosts, and their
ability to beg, borrow and steal. The people and companies who
donate their equipment, services and time are to be heartily
congratulated and thanked.
While preparation far in advance of the meeting is encouraged, there
may be some unavoidable "last minute" things which can be
accomplished in the terminal room. It may also be useful to people
who need to make trip reports or status reports while things are
still fresh in their minds.
Another of the most important things organized and managed by the
local hosts is the IETF social event. The social event has become
something of a tradition at the IETF meetings. It has been
immortalized by Marshal T. Rose with his reference to "many fine
lunches and dinners" [ROSE], and by Claudio and Julia Topolcic with
their rendition of "Nerds in Paradise" on a pink T-shirt.
Sometimes, the social event is a computer or high-tech related event.
At the Boston IETF, for example, the social was dinner at the
Computer Museum. Other times, the social might be a dinner cruise or
a trip to an art gallery.
Newcomers to the IETF are encouraged to attend the social event.
Everyone is encouraged to wear their name tags. The social event is
designed to give people a chance to meet on a social, rather than
The agenda for the IETF meetings is a very fluid thing. It is sent,
in various forms, to the IETF announcement list three times prior to
the meeting. The final agenda is included in the registration
packets. Of course, "final" in the IETF doesn't mean the same thing
as it does elsewhere in the world. The final agenda is simply the
version that went to the printers.
The Secretariat will announce agenda changes during the morning
plenary sessions. Changes will also be posted on the bulletin board
near the IETF registration desk (not the hotel registration desk).
Assignments for breakout rooms (where the working groups and BOFs
meet) and a map showing the room locations make up the at-a-glance
sheet (included in the registration packets). Room assignments are
as flexible as the agenda. Some working groups meet multiple times
during a meeting and every attempt is made to have a working group
meet in the same room each session. Room assignment changes are not
necessarily permanent for the week. Always check the at-a-glance
first, then the bulletin board. When in doubt, check with a member
of the Secretariat at the registration desk.
Other General Things
The opening plenary on Monday morning is the most heavily attended
session. It is where important introductory remarks are made, so
people are encouraged to attend.
The IETF Secretariat, and IETFers in general, are very approachable.
Never be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself. Also,
don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to jargon
Hallway conversations are very important. A lot of very good work
gets done by people who talk together between meetings and over
lunches and dinners. Every minute of the IETF can be considered work
time (much to some people's dismay).
A "bar BOF" is an unofficial get-together, usually in the late
evening, during which a lot of work gets done over drinks.
It's unwise to get between a hungry IETFer (and there isn't any other
kind) and coffee break brownies and cookies, no matter how
interesting a hallway conversation is.
IETFers are fiercely independent. It's safe to question opinions and
offer alternatives, but don't expect an IETFer to follow orders.
The IETF, and the plenary sessions in particular, are not places for
vendors to try to sell their wares. People can certainly answer
questions about their company and its products, but bear in mind that
the IETF is not a trade show. This does not preclude people from
recouping costs for IETF related t-shirts, buttons and pocket
There is always a "materials distribution table" near the
registration desk. This desk is used to make appropriate information
available to the attendees (e.g., copies of something discussed in a
working group session, description of on-line IETF-related
information, etc.). Please check with the Secretariat before placing
materials on the desk; the Secretariat has the right to remove
material that they feel is not appropriate.
Registration is such an important topic that it's in this RFC twice!
This is the "very important registration bullets" section.
o To attend an IETF meeting you have to register and you have to pay
the registration fee.
o All you need to do to be registered is to send in a completed
o You may register by mail, e-mail or fax. Generally, e-mail and
fax registration forms will be accepted until 13:00 US/Eastern on
the Thursday before the meeting.
o You may preregister and pay, preregister and pay later,
preregister and pay on-site, or register and pay on-site.
o To get the lower registration fee, you must register by the early
registration deadline (about one month before the meeting). You
can still pay later or on-site.
o If you don't register by the early registration deadline, a late
fee is added.
o Everyone pays the same fees. There are no educational or group
discounts. There are no discounts for attending only part of the
o Register only ONE person per registration form. Substitutions are
o You may register then pay later, but you may not pay then register
later. Payment MUST be accompanied by a completed registration
o Purchase orders are NOT accepted. DD Form 1556 is accepted.
Invoice for payment cannot be accepted.
o Refunds are subject to a US$20 service charge. Late fees will not
o The registration fee covers Sunday evening reception (cash bar), a
daily continental breakfast and daily coffee breaks.
Mailing Lists and Archives
As previously mentioned, the IETF announcement and discussion mailing
lists are the central mailing lists for IETF activities. However,
there are many other mailing lists related to IETF work. For
example, every working group has its own discussion list. In
addition, there are some long-term technical debates which have been
moved off of the IETF list onto lists created specifically for those
topics. It is highly recommended that everybody follow the
discussions on the mailing lists of the working groups which they
wish to attend. The more work that is done on the mailing lists, the
less work that will need to be done at the meeting, leaving time for
cross pollination (i.e., attending working groups outside one's
primary area of interest in order to broaden one's perspective).
The mailing lists also provide a forum for those who wish to follow,
or contribute to, the working groups' efforts, but cannot attend the
All IETF discussion lists have a "-request" address which handles the
administrative details of joining and leaving the list. It is
generally frowned upon when such administrivia appears on the
discussion mailing list.
Most IETF discussion lists are archived. That is, all of the
messages sent to the list are automatically stored on a host for
anonymous FTP access. To find out where a particular list is
archived, send a message to the list's "-request" address, NOT to the
Important E-mail Addresses
There are some important IETF e-mail addresses with which everyone
should be familiar. They are all located at "cnri.reston.va.us"
(e.g., "firstname.lastname@example.org"). To personalize things, the
names of the Secretariat staff who currently respond to the messages
are given for each address.
o ietf-info general queries about the IETF - Cynthia Clark,
Debra Legare, John Stewart, and Megan Walnut
o ietf-rsvp queries about meeting locations and fees,
e-mailed registration forms - Debra Legare
o proceedings queries about ordering hard copies of previous
proceedings, and general questions about on-line
proceedings - Debra Legare and John Stewart
o ietf-request requests to join/leave IETF lists - Cynthia Clark
o internet-drafts Internet-Draft submissions and queries - Cynthia
Clark and John Stewart
o iesg-secretary John Stewart
o ietf-secretariat Steve Coya
The IETF proceedings are compiled in the two months following each
IETF meeting. The proceedings usually start with a message from
Steve Coya, the Executive Director of the IETF. Each contains the
final (hindsight) agenda, an IETF overview, a report from the IESG,
area and working group reports, network status briefings, slides from
the protocol and technical presentations and the attendees list. The
attendees list includes names, affiliations, work and fax phone
numbers and e-mail addresses as provided on the registration form.
Folks who register and pay to attend the IETF are eligible to receive
a hard copy of the proceedings. They must indicate so on the line
provided on the registration form. The proceedings are sent to the
mailing addresses provided on the registration forms. Please notify
the Secretariat immediately if your address information changes after
the meeting ends so you can be assured of receiving your copy.
For those who could not attend a meeting but would like a copy of the
proceedings, send a check for US$35 (made payable to CNRI) to:
Corporation for National Research Initiatives
Attn: Accounting Department - IETF Proceedings
1895 Preston White Drive, Suite 100
Reston, VA 22091
Please indicate which meeting proceedings you would like to receive
by specifying the meeting date (e.g., July 1993) or meeting number
and location (e.g., 27th meeting in Amsterdam). Availability of
previous meetings' proceedings is limited, so ask BEFORE sending
The proceedings are also available on-line via:
o Gopher: <email@example.com>
o WorldWide Web: <http://www.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us/home.html>
o Anonymous FTP: <ftp.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us> in /ietf-online-
People are encouraged to use the on-line version of the proceedings
to save paper and money, as well as to have the Internet community
use its own technology.
There is a tremendous amount of material available for those who
follow the work of the IETF. To make it easier to know what to read
to prepare for a meeting, the InterNIC has established a document
archive. Beginning about one month prior to an IETF meeting, working
group/BOF chairs and area directors put documents relevant to the
discussions to be held into the archives. Those people who plan to
attend a working group/BOF session should check the archives for
documents which need to be read. The documents are left in the
archives for about two months after the end of the IETF meeting.
On the host "ds.internic.net", documents are stored in the directory
"/pub/current-ietf-docs" under subdirectories named for each area and
then for each working group. For example, a document for the NISI
Working Group, which is in the User Services Area, would be stored as
"current-ietf-docs/usv/nisi/nisi-doc1.txt". Each area will also have
a subdirectory called "bof", where documents to be discussed in BOF
sessions will be placed. A directory called "plenary" will also be
created under "/pub/current-ietf-docs" to put documents or viewgraphs
related to a plenary session. Any filename conflicts will be
resolved by the archive administrator working with the submitter of
the document via e-mail.
It is important to note that the service is provided by the InterNIC
and that the documents are submitted by the people who work on them.
The IETF Secretariat does not manage or monitor the archive service.
Access via anonymous FTP:
Anonymous FTP to ds.internic.net
Change directory to /pub/current-ietf-docs
Browse and get the document of interest
Access via Gopher (from a Gopher client):
Point to gopher.internic.net
Select the "InterNIC Directory and Database Services ..." item
Then menu item named "Internet Documentation (RFCs FYIs, etc.)/"
Lastly menu item named "Current IETF Conference Documents (...)/"
If you do not have a Gopher client, use the InterNIC's public-access
Gopher client. Simply telnet to "gopher.internic.net" and login as
"gopher" (no password required).
This topic cannot be stressed enough. As the IETF grows, it becomes
more and more important for attendees to arrive prepared for the
working group meetings they plan to attend. This doesn't apply only
to newcomers--everybody should come prepared.
Being prepared means having read the documents which the working
group or BOF chair has distributed. It means having followed the
discussions on the working group's mailing list or having reviewed
the archives. For the working group/BOF chairs, it means getting all
of the documents out early (i.e., several weeks) to give everybody
time to read them and announcing an agenda and sticking to it.
At the chair's discretion, some time may be devoted to bringing new
working group attendees up to speed. In fact, long lived working
groups have occasionally held entire sessions which were introductory
in nature. As a rule, however, a working group is not the place to
go for training. Observers are always welcome, but they must realize
that the work effort cannot be delayed for education. Anyone wishing
to attend a working group for the first time might seek out the chair
prior to the meeting and ask for some introduction.
Another thing for everybody to consider is that working groups go
through phases. In the initial phase (say, the first two meetings),
all ideas are welcome. The idea is to gather all the possible
solutions together for consideration. In the development phase, a
solution is chosen and developed. Trying to reopen issues which were
decided more than a couple of meetings back is considered bad form.
The final phase (the last two meetings) is where the "spit and
polish" are applied to the architected solution. This is not the
time to suggest architectural changes or open design issues already
resolved. It's a bad idea to wait until the last minute to speak out
if a problem is discovered. This is especially true for people whose
excuse is that they hadn't read the documents until the day before a
comments period ended.
Time at the IETF meetings is a precious thing. Working groups are
encouraged to meet between IETF meetings, either in person or by
video or telephone conference. Doing as much work as possible over
the mailing lists would also reduce the amount of work which must be
done at the meeting.
RFCs and Internet-Drafts
Originally, RFCs were just what the name implies: requests for
comments. The early RFCs were messages between the ARPANET
architects about how to resolve certain problems. Over the years,
RFCs became more formal. It reached the point that they were being
cited as standards, even when they weren't.
To help clear up some confusion, there are now two special sub-series
within the RFCs: FYIs and STDs. The For Your Information RFC sub-
series was created to document overviews and topics which are
introductory. Frequently, FYIs are created by groups within the IETF
User Services Area. The STD RFC sub-series was created to identify
those RFCs which do in fact specify Internet standards.
Every RFC, including FYIs and STDs, have an RFC number by which they
are indexed and by which they can be retrieved. FYIs and STDs have
FYI numbers and STD numbers, respectively, in addition to RFC
numbers. This makes it easier for a new Internet user, for example,
to find all of the helpful, informational documents by looking for
the FYIs amongst all the RFCs. If an FYI or STD is revised, its RFC
number will change, but its FYI or STD number will remain constant
for ease of reference.
There is also an RTR subseries of RFCs for Reseaux Associes pour la
Recherche Europeenne (RARE) Technical Reports. These are technical
reports developed in the RARE community that are published as RFCs to
provide easy access to the general Internet community.
Internet-Drafts are working documents of the IETF. Any group or
individual may submit a document for distribution as an Internet-
Draft. These documents are valid for six months, and may be updated,
replaced or obsoleted at any time. Guidelines require that an
expiration date appear on every page of an Internet-Draft. It is not
appropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite
them, other than as "working drafts" or "works in progress."
For additional information, read the following documents:
o Request for Comments on Request for Comments [RFC 1111]
o F.Y.I. on F.Y.I: Introduction to the F.Y.I notes [FYI1]
o Introduction to the STD Notes [RFC 1311]
o Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts [GAID]
o The Internet Activities Board [RFC 1160]
o The Internet Standards Process [RFC 1602]
o Internet Official Protocol Standards [STD1]
Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)
Q: My working group moved this morning. Where is it now?
A: Check the at-a-glance sheet and the message board for
Q: Where is room 'foo'?
A: Check the map on the at-a-glance sheet. An enlarged version is on
the bulletin board.
Q: Where can I get a copy of the proceedings?
A: If you have registered and paid to attend an IETF meeting simply
indicate you wish to receive a hardcopy of the proceedings and it
will be mailed to you. For on-line retrieval refer to "IETF
Proceedings" section which appears on page thirteen of this RFC.
Both the hardcopy and on-line version of the proceedings are
generally available two months after the meeting.
Q: When is on-site registration?
A: On-site registration is first possible from 18:00 to 20:00 on the
Sunday night before the meeting starts. The IETF registration desk
will be set up in the same room in which the reception is held.
On-site registration on Monday begins at 8:00, Tuesday through
Friday at 8:30, and is open until 18:00 every day but Friday.
Q: Where is lunch served?
A: The meeting does not include lunch or dinner. Ask a local host
(somebody with a green dotted badge) for a recommendation.
Q: Where are the receipts for the social event?
A: The social is not managed by the IETF Secretariat. Ask a local
Pointers to Useful Documents and Files
This is a list of documents and files that provide useful information
about the IETF meetings, working groups and documentation. These
files reside in the "ietf" directory on the anonymous FTP sites
listed below. File names beginning with "0" (zero) pertain to IETF
meetings; these may refer to a recently held meeting if the first
announcement of the next meeting has not yet been sent to the IETF
mailing list. File names beginning with "1" (one) contain general
IETF information. This is only a partial list of the available
files. (The 'yymm' below refers to the year and month.)
o 0mtg-agenda.txt Agenda for the meeting
o 0mtg-at-a-glance-yymm.txt Logistics information for the meeting
o 0mtg-rsvp.txt Meeting registration form
o 0mtg-sites.txt Future meeting sites and dates
o 0mtg-multicast-guide-yymm.txt Schedule for MBone-multicast sessions
o 0mtg-traveldirections-yymm.txt Directions to the meeting site
o 0tao.txt This document
o 1directories.txt IETF shadow directory locations and
o 1id-guidelines.txt Guidelines to authors of Internet-
o 1ietf-description.txt Short description of the IETF and
IESG, including a list of area
o 1nonwg-discuss.txt A list of mailing lists relevant to
the IETF, but not associated with
o 1proceedings-request.txt A proceedings order form
o 1wg-summary.txt List of all working groups, by
area, including the chair(s) and
o 1wg-summary-by-acronym.txt Same as above, but sorted by
o 1wg-charter.txt Abbreviated versions of all current
working group charters
o 1wg-charters-by-acronym.txt Same as above, but sorted by
Additionally, the full charters and minutes of the working groups and
BOFs are archived under the "ietf" directory (see 1directories.txt
for a complete explanation).
All of these documents are available by anonymous FTP from the
following primary sites (there may be closer shadow sites, so check
with your network administrator):
o Europe: nic.nordu.net (188.8.131.52)
o Pacific Rim: munnari.oz.au (184.108.40.206)
o US/East Coast: ds.internic.net (220.127.116.11)
o US/West Coast: ftp.isi.edu (18.104.22.168)
These files are also available through the Internet Gopher on host
"gopher.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us" and the WorldWide Web server at URL
Residing on the same archive sites are the RFCs and Internet-Drafts.
They are in the "rfc" and "internet-drafts" directories,
respectively. The file "1rfc_index.txt" contains the latest
information about the RFCs (e.g., which have been obsoleted by
which). In general, only the newest version of an Internet-Draft is
All of the files, RFCs and Internet-Drafts are also available via e-
mail from various mail servers. To to get the IETF agenda,
Internet-Draft abstracts and RFC 1150 from the mail server at the
InterNIC, for example, you would send the following message:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Message header
Subject: anything you want
FILE /ietf/0mtg-agenda.txt Body of the message
Where FILE specifies the name of a file to be returned and PATH is an
optional command that specifies the e-mail address to which the
file(s) should be sent. The file(s) can be returned in one or more
MIME messages by adding the command "ENCODING mime" to the top of the
RFCs may also be retrieved via e-mail from ISI's RFC-Info server at
"email@example.com". To get a specific RFC, include the following in
the body of the message:
This example would cause a copy of RFC 951 (the leading zero in the
Doc-ID is required) to be e-mailed to the requestor. To get a list
of available RFCs which match certain criteria, include the following
in the body of the message:
This example would e-mail a list of all RFCs with "gateway" in the
title or as an assigned keyword. To get information on other ways to
Pronounced "dow", Tao means "the way." It is the basic principle
behind the teachings of Lao-tse, a Chinese master. Its familiar
symbol is the black and white Yin-Yang circle.
IETF Area Abbreviations
INT Internet Services
IPNG IP: Next Generation
MGT Network Management
OPS Operational Requirements
USV User Services
:-) Smiley face
ANSI American National Standards Institute
ARPA Advanced Research Projects Agency
ARPANET Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
AS Autonomous System
ATM Asynchronous Transfer Mode
BGP Border Gateway Protocol
BOF Birds Of a Feather
BSD Berkeley Software Distribution
BTW By The Way
CCIRN Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks
CCITT International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee
CIDR Classless Inter-Domain Routing
CIX Commercial Information Exchange
CNI Coalition for Networked Information
CREN The Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
DARPA US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (now ARPA)
DDN US Defense Data Network
DISA US Defense Information Systems Agency
EGP Exterior Gateway Protocol
FAQ Frequently Asked Question
FARNET Federation of American Research NETworks
FIX US Federal Information Exchange
FNC US Federal Networking Council
FQDN Fully Qualified Domain Name
FYI For Your Information (RFC)
GOSIP US Government OSI Profile
IAB Internet Architecture Board
IANA Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
IEN Internet Experiment Note
IESG Internet Engineering Steering Group
IETF Internet Engineering Task Force
IGP Interior Gateway Protocol
IMHO In My Humble Opinion
IMR Internet Monthly Report
InterNIC Internet Network Information Center
IPng IP: Next Generation
IR Internet Registry
IRSG Internet Research Steering Group
IRTF Internet Research Task Force
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ISOC Internet Society
ISODE ISO Development Environment
ITU International Telecommunication Union
MIB Management Information Base
MIME Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
NIC Network Information Center
NIS Network Information Services
NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology
NOC Network Operations Center
NREN National Research and Education Network
NSF National Science Foundation
OSI Open Systems Interconnection
PEM Privacy Enhanced Mail
PTT Postal, Telegraph and Telephone
RARE Reseaux Associes pour la Recherche Europeenne
RFC Request For Comments
RIPE Reseaux IP Europeenne
SIG Special Interest Group
STD Standard (RFC)
TLA Three Letter Acronym
TTFN Ta-Ta For Now
UTC Universal Time Coordinated
WG Working Group
WRT With Respect To
WYSIWYG What You See is What You Get
The IETF Secretariat would like to acknowledge the time and efforts
of Gary Malkin who prepared the first version of this document (RFC
1391), and coordinated all the changes in the first revision (RFC
1539). Without his help, this document might still be "in progress."
FYI1 Malkin, G., and J. Reynolds, "F.Y.I. on F.Y.I.", FYI 1, RFC
1150, Proteon, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March
GAID "Guidelines to Authors of Internet Drafts",
ROSE Rose, M., "The Open Book: A Practical Perspective on OSI",
Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1989.
RFC1543 Postel, J., "Request for Comments on Request for Comments",
RFC 1543, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1989.
RFC1160 Cerf, V., "The Internet Activities Board", RFC 1160, NRI, May
RFC1602 Chapin, L., Chair, "The Internet Standards Process", RFC
1602, Internet Activities Board, March 1992.
RFC1311 Postel, J., Editor, "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC
1311, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March 1992.
STD1 Postel, J., Editor, "Internet Official Protocol Standards",
STD 1, RFC 1720, Internet Architecture Board, November 1994.
Security issues are not discussed in this memo.
The IETF Secretariat
c/o Corporation for National Research Initiatives
1895 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 22091
Phone: +1 703 620 8990
Fax: +1 703 620 0913
Gary Scott Malkin
53 Third Avenue
Burlington, MA 01803
Phone: +1 617 272 8140