On Fri, Dec 02, 2005 at 11:57:43AM -0800, Hallam-Baker, Phillip wrote:
From: Ted Faber [mailto:faber(_at_)ISI(_dot_)EDU]
RFCs have authoritative versions for a couple reasons. Some
are the result of the IETF consensus process and the exact
wording on which consensus was achieved is important to know.
There are a significant number of cases where small changes
in the wording of an RFC or section thereof would not achieve
Agreed, but I have yet to see an example that would be affected by the
As far as pagination, no. But I didn't get the impression that your
analogy was about the illumination, but about the text.
For the record, I think an authoritative plain text document with a
sufficiently rich character encoding to express authors' names is a
reasonable RFC format. I think that generating those from a standard
content markup language is a good idea and that the generating markup
should be made commonly available to people revising documents. I
expect to be driven to saying that again in 6 months.
To the extent that the internet community agrees
to abide by that consensus, the authoritative version is what
was agreed to. For these RFCs the authority due them stems
from the consensus process.
Ah here you make the mistake of thinking that the IETF community is the
Internet community. Perhaps forty years ago, but certainly not today.
Point taken. In my message s/Internet community/IETF community/g.
That's what I mean. I did not intend for those communities to become
The IETF does not make any effort to be representative of the Internet
1) They do too.
Hmmm. I would have thought proof by assertion would be more fun.
Seriously, you can argue that the IETF is failing to reach the
stakeholders it claims to represent, but I think it's disingenuous to say
that the group doesn't try to reach them. There are low barriers to
entry for interested parties, and concentrated efforts to find and
coordinate with other networking standards bodies. Those aren't the
actions of a group of ostriches.
2) "Internet community" is a noun that can't meaningfully be used with
a definite article anymore. There are lots of Internet communities from
webcomics artists through political bloggers and ebay merchants. The
question of who makes up the IETF's constituency is a good one, though.
I think there are significant numbers of Internet network engineers for
whom the body still refelects consensus and who find the working dialogs
conducted there valuable. I suspect there are folks who'll argue the
opposite. I think most IETF participants think interested and
interesting factions are represented, or they'd stop coming. A fair
number of entities who are not participants also are interested in what
the IETF publishes, even if their level of involvement does not extend
to taking part in making the sausage. (By "sausage" I mean "IETF
Now, the IETF consensus process is performed by humans, and
therefore there will be mistakes. In principle, however, it
is this process that conveys any authority on an RFC and not
some imperative handed down from an oligarchy, tyrant, or
supernatural power. I don't think your analogy to
the(?) church is particularly illuminating for that reason.
The analogy is very apt as your equation of the IETF with the Internet
community demonstrates. IETFers behave like cardinals and priests far
Though you've been mislead by my poor substitution (Internet != IETF),
my intent was not to indicate that I believe that the IETF speaks for
anyone but the IETF. I would have hoped that the rest of my message
made that clear, but I'm happy to say it explicitly: IETF standards
documents reflect the consensus of the IETF participants at the time of
submission to the publication queue. People who believe an IETF
standards document represents other things are misinformed. If our only
point of contention is that you believe I was misinformed, let me assure
you I'm not.
The lack of a pope does not damage the analogy in any way. The early
church was governed by independent bishops. The papacy was established
after an external authority (the emperor) got tired of their infighting,
doctrinal disputes &ct. Only one of the original four doctors of the
church was Bishop of Rome and the supremacy was never accepted by the
I still don't see how that applies to the IETF, unless it's something to
do with all that IETF restructuring that I'm ignoring.
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