Robert Elz kre at munnari.OZ.AU
Wed Feb 19 20:46:19 CET 2003

A few days ago, when I was nominally doing something which
turned out to be too boring to concentrate on, I did a brief
(manual, by eye-ball) review of the rfc-index covering the
past 10 years (or so), looking to see how many standards
have been published during that time.

Here I mean Standard (not DS or PS).

This is what I came up with (I might have missed one or two, and
I am skipping the earlier version of a couple of cases where the
standard was published, then revised and re-published during this

I am also omitting STD1 which just appears periodically as the
workload of the RFC editor permits (and I suspect, with involvement
from almost no-one else).

In reverse order

Dec 2002  		STD 62		SNMPv3
Sep 2000		STD 60		SMTP command pipelining
May 2000		STD 59		RMON
Apr 1999		STD 58		SMIv2
Nov 1998 (Nov 94)	STD 56, 57	RIPv2
Sep 1998		STD 55		Multiprotocol Internet over FR
Apr 1998		STD 54		OSPFv2
Feb 1998		STD 61		One Time Passwords
May 1996 (Nov 94)	STD 53		POPv3
Nov 1995		STD 10		SMTP Msg Size, SMTP Service Ext
Jul 1994		STD 51		PPP, PPP in HDLC
Jul 1994		STD 50		Ethernet MIB

That's back 10 years (unless I missed something), but a few more ...

Jan 1993		STD 36		IP (& ARP) over FDDI
Jul 1992		STD 33		TFTP v2
Mar 1991		STD 17		MIB II
Mar 1991		STD 16		Concise MIB
Mar 1991		STD 52		IP over SMDS
Mar 1991		STD 46		IP over ARCNET
May 1990		STD 16		SMI

This is truly pathetic.  13 standards in 10 years from an organisation
the size of the IETF (with the number of working groups) (and it gets to
be 13 rather than 12 only because the AS for RIPv2 for some reason counts
as a standard all of its own).

	note: several standards here contain more than one RFC, so this
	is not a count of RFCs at standard status.

	also note: what I was looking at is the date at which an RFC
	declared Standard was published (the date it was made a standard
	isn't easily accessible when the RFC is not revised and
	republished and instead is just upgraded in status).   I believe
	that STD52 is the only one listed outside 10 years which was
	actually elevated to standard status within the past 10 years,
	but it is hard to be sure.

There is a problem here, and it is one that needs fixing.

The IETF has become fixated upon publishing PS's and then closing
down working groups as soon as all the required PS's are out the door.
This is partly because it is considered an accomplishment in the AD
community to have shut down a working group that has "succeeded".

In this state, there's nothing left to drive the PS's to DS and
then eventually Standard status.   Even with the WG still around, there's
little incentive to upgrading old docs, rather than publishing new ones.

Without that happening, the IETF's procedures to determine what is workable,
and being used, and what isn't, get little chance to be exercised.   Some
of the problems being encountered in the IPR area are, IMO, caused directly
by this - the IETF's IPR policy (that which applies to patents, etc) was
designed based upon the standards process actually being correctly used
(all the way to the top).

This is also (IMO) contributing to the (IMO unreasonable) demand for
perfection in everything published as a PS, because most people realise
that for most documents, that's as far as they'll ever actually go.
Not because they wouldn't qualify for more, but because no-one has enough
interest in doing the extra work.

We really need to fix this.


ps: no answers suggested here, as this list/WG is not supposed to provide
answers, just problems...

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