There are two different potential intentions to 'Experimental':
1. to conduct an experiment, as Eliot notes below, i.e.,
to gain experience that a protocol 'does good' 'in the wild'
2. to gain experience that a protocol does no harm 'in the wild'
There are also many ways to conduct an experiment on the Internet,
1) Just release some software, without telling anyone about how it works
2) Set up a web page describing the experiment without involving the
3) Publish an Internet Draft and use it as the experiment's
4) Get an ID reviewed by the IETF and published as experimental RFC
For the IETF, there is a tension between two goals: protocols that are
reviewed and documented, so there can be multiple implementations; and
protocols that have a high quality so they run very well on the
Internet. If the IETF focuses a lot on quality and makes it too hard to
do #4, experimenters will end up doing #2 or #3, and there will be less
review and less open documentation.
So, there has to be a balance.
-- Christian Huitema
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