On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 1:31 PM, Adrian Farrel
The IESG has been discussing how to tidy up after Experimental RFCs.
We have developed the following draft IESG statement. This does not
represent a change in process, and continues to value Experimental RFCs
as an important part of the IETF process. It does, however, seek to
encourage documentation of the conclusion of experiments.
We are aware that there may be other discussion points around
Experimental RFCs, and we would like to discuss these, but we also
believe that there is merit in making small, incremental improvements.
The IESG would welcome your thoughts on this draft before they approve
the final text on April 26th.
IESG Statement on Conclusion of IETF Experiments
Experiments are an established and valuable part of the IETF process.
A number of core Internet protocols were first published as Experimental
RFCs while the community gathered experience and carefully investigated
the consequences of deploying new mechanisms within the Internet.
In the case where an experiment leads on to the development of a
Standards Track RFC documenting a protocol, the new RFC obsoletes the
old Experimental RFC and there is a clear conclusion to the experiment.
However, many experiments do not lead to the development of Standards
Track RFCs. Instead, the work may be abandoned through lack of interest
or because important lessons have been learned.
It is currently hard to distinguish between an experiment that is still
being investigated, and an old experiment that has ceased to be of
interest to the community. In both cases an Experimental RFC exists in
the repository and newcomers might easily be misled into thinking that
it would be helpful to conduct more research into an abandoned
If no concluding document has been written, then why wouldn't it be
useful to conduct further research?
It sounds like the main issue is negative results that aren't getting
published. We should encourage people to publish them. If they don't,
then of course someone may come along and revisit the experiment.
How's that any different if the experiment is moved to historical or
not? Old ideas that came before their time are often revisited to
If the result of this discussion is the statement below that
officially encourages publishing results, positive or negative, great.
If it's added process or any kind of automatic document expiration,
In view of this, the original proponents of experiments (that is,
authors of Experimental RFCs, and Working Groups that requested the
publication of Experimental RFCs) are strongly encouraged to document
the termination of experiments that do not result in subsequent
Standards Track work by publishing an Informational RFC that:
- very briefly describes the results of the experiment
- obsoletes the Experimental RFC
- if appropriate, deprecate any IANA code points allocated for the
- may request that the Experimental RFC is moved to Historic status.
If there is no energy in the community for the producing such an
Informational RFC, if the authors have moved on to other things, or if
the Working Group has been closed down, Area Directors should author or
seek volunteers to author such an Informational RFC.