Doing the Right Things?

Spencer Dawkins spencer at
Sun Jun 1 08:58:35 CEST 2003

I agree with Keith's points here - a very valuable contribution to
the discussion. I have one addition.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Keith Moore" <moore at>
To: "Margaret Wasserman" <mrw at>
Cc: <problem-statement at>; <moore at>
Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2003 10:38 PM
Subject: Re: Doing the Right Things?

[deleted down to]

> 4. We need to reorganize our document series.

This is actually a point where it helps to be a relative newbie.

The RFC series is just about opaque to newcomers to the IETF.
Ask Keith says, we adjusted as we went, but the most reliable way
I have to look at "what's out there" in a field I've not worked in
previously is to find a working group home page that "tags"
relevant RFCs. This is not reliable. "Reviewing the archives" to
find out "what's out there" for Internet Mail is not scalable, for

The hurdle I see is that there actually is an "editor role" that's missing
- not today's draft editors, and not today's "rfc editor", but an editor
that takes the output of successful Document Actions and merging
them into existing specifications, where this is applicable.

That's how other SDOs I've worked with can maintain a numbering
scheme - because STD 007 really would tell you how TCP works,
as opposed to "STD 007 (RFC 793) plus a bunch of other specifications
that are either proposed standards or experimental-track".

As Keith points out, none of us are getting any younger, and even if we
enforced "decay to Historical", the number of relevant WORDS that
describe the way TCP works are increasing (to use my favorite example),
and the number of relevant documents that describe the way TCP works
are increasing.

Just adding another layer of meat is a great way to make sandwiches and
a less-great way to maintain specifications long-term... I'm not saying we
need to fix this the way other SDOs do, but can others say whether it's
a problem for them?


> (this is a problem that I don't think is touched on in the current draft)
> Lots of people complain that RFCs are too often used to give things the
> appearance of standardization even when they have not been approved for
> That is probably true, but it's not what I mean here.
> The problem I see here is that we now have so many RFCs that it's too easy
> some important bit of information to get lost.  Sequential numbering was
> when there were only a couple of thousand RFCs (and when you could ignore
> the first several hundred), and many of us had the important RFC numbers
> memorized, but now there are just too many (or maybe I'm getting too old,
> but I'm not the only one getting older..)  I see useful work getting
> because it's buried in some obscure RFC number.
> Some SDOs have a numbering scheme that reflects categories, and I think we
> might do well to consider such a scheme for IETF documents.  This probably
> means abandoning the linear RFC numbering scheme entirely, though it
> mean that we have to stop calling them RFCs.

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