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Network Working Group G. Malkin Request for Comments: 1539 Xylogics, Inc. Obsoletes: 1391 October 1993 FYI: 17 Category: Informational

                          The Tao of IETF
  A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force

Status of this Memo

 This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
 not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is


 Over the last two years, the attendance at Internet Engineering Task
 Force (IETF) Plenary meetings has grown phenomenally.  Approximately
 38% of the attendees are new to the IETF at each meeting.  About 33%
 of those go on to become regular attendees.  When the meetings were
 smaller, it wasn't very difficult for a newcomer to get to know
 people and get into the swing of things.  Today, however, a newcomer
 meets many more new people, some previously known only as the authors
 of Request For Comments (RFC) documents or thought provoking email
 The purpose of this For Your Information (FYI) RFC is to explain to
 the newcomers how the IETF works.  This will give them a warm, fuzzy
 feeling and enable them to make the meeting more productive for
 everyone.  This FYI will also provide the mundane bits of information
 which everyone who attends an IETF meeting should know.


 The IETF Secretariat is made up of the following people: Steve Coya
 (Executive Director of the IETF), Cynthia Clark, Lois Keiper, Debra
 Legare, John Stewart, and Megan Davies Walnut.  These are the people
 behind the Registration Table, and the success, of the IETF meetings.
 I thank them for their hard work, and for their input and review of
 this document.  Thanks also to Vinton Cerf, Christian Huitema, and
 Jon Postel for their review and comments.  And, as always, special
 thanks to April Marine and Joyce Reynolds.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 1] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

Table of Contents

 Section 1 - The "Fun" Stuff
    What is the IETF? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
    Humble Beginnings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
    The Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
    IETF Mailing Lists  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
    Registration  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
    Newcomers' Orientation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
    Dress Code  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
    Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
    Terminal Room . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
    Social Event  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
    Agenda  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
    Other General Things  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
 Section 2 - The "You've got to know it" Stuff
    Registration Bullets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
    Mailing Lists and Archives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
    Important Email Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
    IETF Proceedings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
    InterNIC Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
    Be Prepared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
    RFCs and Internet-Drafts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
    Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)  . . . . . . . 16
    Pointers to Useful Documents and Files  . . . . . . . . . . . 17
 Section 3 - The "Reference" Stuff
    Tao . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
    IETF Area Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
    Acronyms  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
    References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
    Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
    Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

What is the IETF?

 The Internet Engineering Task Force is a loosely self-organized group
 of people who make technical and other contributions to the
 engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies.  It
 is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet
 Standard specifications.  Its mission includes:
 o  Identifying, and proposing solutions to, pressing operational and
    technical problems in the Internet;

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 2] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 o  Specifying the development or usage of protocols and the near-term
    architecture to solve such technical problems for the Internet;
 o  Making recommendations to the Internet Engineering Steering Group
    (IESG) regarding the standardization of protocols and protocol
    usage in the Internet;
 o  Facilitating technology transfer from the Internet Research Task
    Force (IRTF) to the wider Internet community; and
 o  Providing a forum for the exchange of information within the
    Internet community between vendors, users, researchers, agency
    contractors, and network managers.
 The IETF Plenary meeting is not a conference, although there are
 technical presentations.  The IETF is not a traditional standards
 organization, although many standards are produced.  The IETF is the
 volunteers who meet three times a year to fulfill the IETF mission.
 There is no membership in the IETF.  Anyone may register for and
 attend any meeting.  The closest thing there is to being an IETF
 member is being on the IETF or Working Group mailing lists (see the
 IETF Mailing Lists section).  This is where the best information
 about current IETF activities and focus can be found.

Humble Beginnings

 The first IETF meeting was held in January, 1986 at Linkabit in San
 Diego with 15 attendees.  The 4th IETF, held at SRI in Menlo Park in
 October, 1986, was the first at which non-government vendors
 attended.  The concept of Working Groups (WG) was introduced at the
 5th IETF meeting at the NASA Ames Research Center in California in
 February, 1987.  The 7th IETF, held at MITRE in McLean, Virginia in
 July, 1987, was the first meeting with over 100 attendees.
 The 14th IETF meeting was held at Stanford University in July, 1989.
 It marked a major change in the structure of the IETF universe.  The
 IAB (then Internet Activities Board, now Internet Architecture
 Board), which until that time oversaw many Task Forces, changed its
 structure to leave only two: the IETF and the IRTF.  The IRTF is
 tasked to consider the long-term research problems in the Internet.
 The IETF also changed at that time.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 3] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 After the Internet Society (ISOC) was formed in January 1992, the IAB
 proposed to ISOC that the IAB's activities should take place under
 the auspices of the Internet Society.  During INET92, in Kobe, Japan,
 the ISOC Trustees approved a new charter for the IAB to reflect the
 proposed relationship.
 A recent first for the IETF was its first European meeting.  In July,
 1993, the IETF met in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  The U.S./non-U.S.
 attendees split was nearly 50/50.

The Hierarchy

 To completely understand the structure of the IETF, it is useful to
 understand the overall structure in which the IETF resides.  There
 are four groups in the structure: the ISOC and its Board of Trustees
 (BOT), the IAB, the IESG, and the IETF itself.
 Internet standardization is an organized activity of the ISOC.  The
 ISOC is a professional society that is concerned with the growth and
 evolution of the worldwide Internet, with the way in which the
 Internet is and can be used, and with the social, political, and
 technical issues which arise as a result.  The BOT is responsible for
 approving appointments to the IAB from among the nominees submitted
 by the IETF nominating committee.
 The IAB is a technical advisory group of the ISOC.  It is chartered
 to provide oversight of the architecture of the Internet and its
 protocols, and to serve, in the context of the Internet Standards
 process, as a body to which the decisions of the IESG may be
 appealed.  The IAB is responsible for approving appointments to the
 IESG from among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominations
 The IESG is responsible for technical management of IETF activities
 and the Internet Standards process.  As part of the ISOC, it
 administers the process according to the rules and procedures which
 have been ratified by the ISOC BOT.  The IESG is directly responsible
 for the actions associated with entry into and movement along the
 IETF "standards track", including final approval of specifications as
 Internet Standards.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 4] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 The IETF is divided into nine functional Areas.  They are:
 Applications, Internet Services, Network Management, Operational
 Requirements, Routing, Security, Service Applications, Transport, and
 User Services.  Each Area has at least one Area Director.  There is
 also an Area Director who oversees Standards Management.  The Area
 Directors, along with the IETF Chair, form the IESG.  Phillip Gross
 has been the IETF Chair since the IETF's 7th meeting.  He founded the
 IESG and serves as its Chair as well.
 Each Area has several Working Groups.  A Working Group is a group of
 people who work under a charter to achieve a certain goal.  That goal
 may be the creation of an informational document, the creation of a
 protocol standard, or the resolution of problems in the Internet.
 Most Working Groups have a finite lifetime.  That is, once a Working
 Group has achieved its goal, it disbands.  As in the IETF, there is
 no official membership for a Working Group.  Unofficially, a Working
 Group member is somebody who's on that Working Group's mailing list;
 however, anyone may attend a Working Group meeting (see the Be
 Prepared section below).
 Areas may also have Birds of a Feather (BOF) groups.  They generally
 have the same goals as Working Groups, except that they have no
 charter and usually only meet once or twice.  BOFs are often held to
 determine if there is enough interest to form a Working Group.

IETF Mailing Lists

 Anyone who plans to attend an IETF meeting should join the IETF
 announcements mailing list.  This is where all of the meeting
 information, new and revised Internet-Draft and RFC announcements,
 IESG Recommendations, and Last Calls are posted.  People who'd like
 to "get technical" may also join the IETF discussion list,
 "".  This was the only list before the
 announcement list was created and is where discussions of cosmic
 significance are held (most Working Groups have their own mailing
 lists for discussions relating to their work).  To join the IETF
 announcement list, send a request to:
 To join the IETF discussion list, send a request to:
 To join both of the lists, simply send a single message, to either
 "-request" address, and indicate that you'd like to join both lists.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 5] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Do not, ever, under any circumstances, for any reason, send a request
 to join a list to the list itself!  The thousands of people on the
 list don't need, or want, to know when a new person joins.
 Similarly, when changing email addresses or leaving a list, send your
 request only to the "-request" address, not to the main list.  This
 means you!!
 The IETF discussion list is unmoderated.  This means that anyone can
 express their opinions about issues affecting the Internet.  However,
 it is not a place for companies or individuals to solicit or
 advertise.  Only the Secretariat can send a message to the
 announcement list.
 Even though the IETF mailing lists "represent" the IETF membership at
 large, it is important to note that attending an IETF meeting does
 not automatically include addition to either mailing list.


 As previously mentioned, all meeting announcements are sent to the
 IETF announcement list.  Within the IETF meeting announcement is a
 Registration Form and complete instructions for registering,
 including, of course, the cost.  The Secretariat highly recommends
 that attendees preregister.  Early registration, which ends about one
 month before the meeting, carries a lower registration fee.  As the
 size of the meetings has grown, so has the length of the lines at the
 registration desk.  Fortunately, there are three lines:
 "preregistered and prepaid" (which moves very quickly),
 "preregistered and on-site payment" (which moves a little more
 slowly), and "registration and on-site payment" (take a guess).
 Registration is open all week.  However, the Secretariat highly
 recommends that attendees arrive for early registration, beginning at
 6:00 P.M. (meeting local time), on the Sunday before the opening
 plenary.  Not only will there be fewer people, but there will also be
 a reception at which people can get a byte to eat.  If the
 registration lines are long, one can eat first and try again when the
 lines are shorter.
 Registered attendees (and there isn't any other kind) receive a
 Registration Packet.  It contains a general orientation sheet, the
 At-A-Glance sheet, a list of Working Group acronyms, the most recent
 Agenda, and a name tag.  The At-A-Glance is a very important
 reference and is used throughout the week.  It contains Working
 Group/BOF room assignments and a map of room locations.  Attendees
 who prepaid will also find their receipt in their packet.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 6] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

Newcomers' Orientation

 Newcomers are encouraged to attend the IETF Newcomers' Orientation.
 As the name implies, it is an orientation for first time attendees to
 IETF meetings.  The orientation is organized and conducted by the
 IETF Secretariat and is intended to provide useful introductory
 information.  The Secretariat tries to keep the orientation session
 informal, and is usually successful at it.
 The orientation is typically 30-45 minutes long and covers a number
 of topics: what's in the attendee packets, what all the dots on name
 tags mean, and how to read the At-A-Glance.  There is also discussion
 about the organization of the IETF: Working Groups and their Areas,
 and the IESG.  There is ample time at the end for questions.  The
 Secretariat also provides handouts which include the text from the
 IETF Overview and a list of important files maintained on the IETF
 Shadow directories.
 The orientation is held on Sunday afternoon and ends about 30 mintues
 before the Registration Reception.  However, attending the
 orientation does NOT mean you can go to the reception early!

Dress Code

 Since attendees must wear their name tags, they must also wear shirts
 or blouses.  Pants or skirts are also highly recommended.  Seriously
 though, many newcomers are often embarrassed when they show up Monday
 morning in suits, to discover that everybody else is wearing T-
 shirts, jeans (shorts, if weather permits) and sandals.  There are
 those in the IETF who refuse to wear anything other than suits.
 Fortunately, they are well known (for other reasons) so they are
 forgiven this particular idiosyncrasy.  The general rule is "dress
 for the weather" (unless you plan to work so hard that you won't go
 outside, in which case, "dress for comfort" is the rule!).

Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes

 Some of the people at the IETF will have a little colored dot on
 their name tag.  A few people have more than one.  These dots
 identify people who are silly enough to volunteer to do a lot of
 extra work.  The colors have the following meanings:
    red    - IAB member
    yellow - IESG member
    blue   - Working Group/BOF chair
    green  - Local host

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 7] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Local hosts are the people who can answer questions about the
 terminal room, restaurants, and points of interest in the area.
 Some people have Gold Stars on their name tags.  The stars indicate
 that those people chaired Working Groups or BOFs in the IETF Area
 which submitted all of its Working Group/BOF Minutes and Area Report
 from the previous meeting first.  The stars are the Secretariat's way
 of saying "Thank You" for providing the necessary information
 It is important that newcomers to the IETF not be afraid to strike up
 conversations with people who wear these dots.  If the IAB and IESG
 members, and Working Group and BOF chairs, didn't want to talk to
 anybody, they wouldn't be wearing the dots in the first place.
 To make life simpler for the Secretariat, Registration Packets are
 also coded with little colored dots.  These are only for Secretariat
 use, so nobody else needs to worry about them.  Please, don't peel
 them off your packet and put them on your name tag.

Terminal Room

 One of the most important (depending on your point of view) things
 the local host does is provide Internet access to the meeting
 attendees.  In general, the connectivity is excellent.  This is
 entirely due to the Olympian efforts of the local hosts, and their
 ability to beg, borrow and steal.  The people and companies who
 donate their equipment, services, and time are to be heartily
 congratulated and thanked.
 While preparation far in advance of the meeting is encouraged, there
 may be some unavoidable "last minute" things which can be
 accomplished in the terminal room.  It may also be useful to people
 who need to make trip reports or status reports while things are
 still fresh in their minds.

Social Event

 Another of the most important things organized and managed by the
 local hosts is the IETF social event.  The social event has become
 something of a tradition at the IETF meetings.  It has been
 immortalized by Marshal Rose with his reference to "many fine lunches
 and dinners" [ROSE], and by Claudio and Julia Topolcic with their
 rendition of "Nerds in Paradise" on a pink T-shirt.
 Newcomers to the IETF are encouraged to attend the social event.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 8] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Everyone is encouraged to wear their name tags.  The social event is
 designed to give people a chance to meet on a social, rather than
 technical, level.
 Sometimes, the social event is a computer or high-tech related event.
 At the Boston IETF, for example, the social was dinner at the
 Computer Museum.  Other times, the social might be a dinner cruise or
 a trip to an art gallery.


 The Agenda for the IETF meetings is a very fluid thing.  It is sent,
 in various forms, to the IETF announcement list three times prior to
 the meeting.  The final Agenda is included in the Registration
 Packets.  Of course, "final" in the IETF doesn't mean the same thing
 as it does elsewhere in the world.  The final Agenda is simply the
 version that went to the printers.
 The Secretariat will announce Agenda changes during the morning
 plenary sessions.  Changes will also be posted on the bulletin board
 near the IETF Registration Table (not the hotel registration desk).
 Assignments for breakout rooms (that's where the Working Groups and
 BOFs meet) and a map showing the room locations make up the At-A-
 Glance sheet (included in the Registration Packets).  Room
 assignments are as flexible as the Agenda.  Some Working Groups meet
 multiple times during a meeting and every attempt is made to have a
 Working Group meet in the same room each session.  Room assignment
 changes are not necessarily permanent for the week.  Always check the
 At-A-Glance first, then the bulletin board.  When in doubt, check
 with a member of the Secretariat at the Registration Table.

Other General Things

 The opening Plenary on Monday morning is the most heavily attended
 session.  It is where important introductory remarks are made, so
 people are encouraged to attend.
 The IETF Secretariat, and IETFers in general, are very approachable.
 Never be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself.  Also,
 don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to jargon
 and acronyms!

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 9] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Hallway conversations are very important.  A lot of very good work
 gets done by people who talk together between meetings and over
 lunches and dinners.  Every minute of the IETF can be considered work
 time (much to some people's dismay).
 A "Bar BOF" is an unofficial get-together, usually in the late
 evening, during which a lot of work gets done over drinks.
 It's unwise to get between a hungry IETFer (and there isn't any other
 kind) and coffee break brownies and cookies, no matter how
 interesting a hallway conversation is.
 IETFers are fiercely independent.  It's safe to question opinions and
 offer alternatives, but don't expect an IETFer to follow orders.
 The IETF, and the plenary sessions in particular, are not places for
 vendors to try to sell their wares.  People can certainly answer
 questions about their company and its products, but bear in mind that
 the IETF is not a trade show.  This does not preclude people from
 recouping costs for IETF related T-shirts, buttons and pocket

Registration Bullets

 Registration is such an important topic, that it's in this RFC twice!
 This is the "very important registration bullets" section.
 o  To attend an IETF meeting: you have to register and you have to
    pay the registration fee.
 o  All you need to do to be registered is to send in a completed
    Registration Form.
 o  You may register by mail, email or fax.  Generally, email and fax
    registration forms will be accepted until 1:00 P.M. ET on the
    Friday before the meeting.
 o  You may preregister and pay, preregister and pay later,
    preregister and pay on-site, or register and pay on-site.
 o  To get the lower registration fee, you must register by the early
    registration deadline (about one month before the meeting).  You
    can still pay later or on-site.
 o  If you don't register by the early registration deadline, a late
    fee is added.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 10] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 o Everyone pays the same fees.  There are no educational or group
    discounts.  There are no discounts for attending only part of the
 o  Register only ONE person per registration form.  Substitutions are
    NOT allowed.
 o  You may register then pay later, but you may not pay then register
    later.  Payment MUST be accompanied by a completed registration
 o  Purchase orders are NOT accepted.  DD Form 1556 is accepted.
    Invoice for payment cannot be accepted.
 o  Refunds are subject to a $20 service charge.  Late fees will not
    be refunded.
 o  The registration fee covers a copy of the meeting's Proceedings,
    Sunday evening reception (cash bar), a daily continental
    breakfast, and daily coffee breaks.

Mailing Lists and Archives

 As previously mentioned, the IETF announcement and discussion mailing
 lists are the central mailing lists for IETF activities.  However,
 there are many other mailing lists related to IETF work.  For
 example, every Working Group has its own discussion list.  In
 addition, there are some long-term technical debates which have been
 moved off of the IETF list onto lists created specifically for those
 topics.  It is highly recommended that everybody follow the
 discussions on the mailing lists of the Working Groups which they
 wish to attend.  The more work that is done on the mailing lists, the
 less work that will need to be done at the meeting, leaving time for
 cross pollination (i.e., attending Working Groups outside one's
 primary area of interest in order to broaden one's perspective).
 The mailing lists also provide a forum for those who wish to follow,
 or contribute to, the Working Groups' efforts, but cannot attend the
 IETF meetings.
 All IETF discussion lists have a "-request" address which handles the
 administrative details of joining and leaving the list.  It is
 generally frowned upon when such administrivia appears on the
 discussion mailing list.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 11] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Most IETF discussion lists are archived.  That is, all of the
 messages sent to the list are automatically stored on a host for
 anonymous FTP access.  To find out where a particular list is
 archived, send a message to the list's "-request" address, NOT to the
 list itself.

Important Email Addresses

 There are some important IETF email addresses with which everyone
 should be familiar.  They are all located at ""
 (e.g., "").  To personalize things, the
 names of the Secretariat staff who respond to the messages are given
 for each address.
 o  ietf-info         general queries about the IETF -
                      Cynthia Clark, Debra Legare, John Stewart,
                      and Megan Davies Walnut
 o  ietf-rsvp         queries about meeting locations and fees,
                      emailed Registration Forms -
                      Debra Legare
 o  proceedings       queries about previous Proceedings availability,
                      orders for copies of the Proceedings -
                      Debra Legare
 o  ietf-announce-request
                      requests to join/leave IETF announcement list -
                      Cynthia Clark
 o  ietf-request      requests to join/leave IETF discussion list -
                      Cynthia Clark
 o  internet-drafts   Internet-Draft submissions and queries -
                      Cynthia Clark
 o  iesg-secretary    John Stewart
 o  ietf-secretariat  Steve Coya

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 12] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

IETF Proceedings

 The IETF Proceedings are compiled in the two months following each
 IETF meeting.  The Proceedings usually start with a message from
 Steve Coya, the Executive Director of the IETF.  Each contains the
 final (hindsight) Agenda, an IETF overview, a report from the IESG,
 Area and Working Group reports, network status briefings, slides from
 the protocol and technical presentations, and the attendees list.
 The attendees list includes an attendee's name, affiliation, work
 phone number, work fax number, and email address, as provided on the
 Registration Form.
 A copy of the Proceedings will be sent to everyone who registered for
 the IETF.  The cost is included in the registration fee.  The
 Proceedings are sent to the mailing addresses provided on the
 Registration Forms.
 For those who could not attend a meeting but would like a copy of the
 Proceedings send a check for $35 (made payable to CNRI) to:
    Corporation for National Research Initiatives
    Attn: Accounting Department - IETF Proceedings
    1895 Preston White Drive, Suite 100
    Reston, VA   22091
 Please indicate which meeting Proceedings you would like to receive
 by specifying the meeting date (e.g., July 1993) or meeting number
 and location (e.g., 27th meeting in Amsterdam).  Availability of
 previous meetings' Proceedings is limited, so ask BEFORE sending

InterNIC Archives

 There is a tremendous amount of material available for those who
 follow the work of the IETF.  To make it easier to know what to read
 to prepare for a meeting, the InterNIC has established a document
 archive.  Beginning about one month prior to an IETF meeting, Working
 Group/BOF Chairs and Area Directors put documents relevent to the
 discussions to be held into the archives.  Those people who plan to
 attend a Working Group/BOF session should check the archives for
 documents which need to be read.  The documents are left in the
 archives for about two months after the end of the IETF meeting.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 13] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 On the host "", documents are stored in the directory
 "/pub/current-ietf-docs" under subdirectories named for each Area and
 then for each Working Group.  For example, a document for the NISI
 Working Group, which is in the User Services Area, would be stored as
 "current-ietf-docs/usv/nisi/nisi-doc1.txt".  Each Area will also have
 a subdirectory called "bof", where documents to be discussed in BOF
 sessions will be placed.  A directory called "plenary" will also be
 created under "/pub/current-ietf-docs" to put documents or viewgraphs
 related to a plenary session.  Any filename conflicts will be
 resolved by the archive administrator working with the submitter of
 the document via email.
 It is important to note that the service is provided by the InterNIC
 and that the documents are submitted by the people who work on them.
 The IETF Secretariat does not manage or monitor the archive service.
 Access via anonymous FTP:
    Anonymous FTP to
    Change directory to /pub/current-ietf-docs
    Browse and get the document of interest
 Access via GOPHER (from a Gopher client):
    Point to
    Select menu item 4, InterNIC Directory and Database Services ...
    Then menu item named "Internet Documentation (RFC's FYI's, etc.)/"
    Lastly menu item named "Current IETF Conference Documents (...)/"
 If you do not have a Gopher client, use the InterNIC's public-access
 Gopher client.  Simply telnet to "" and login as
 "gopher" (no password required).

Be Prepared

 This topic cannot be stressed enough.  As the IETF grows, it becomes
 more and more important for attendees to arrive prepared for the
 Working Group meetings they plan to attend.  This doesn't apply only
 to newcomers; everybody should come prepared.
 Being prepared means having read the documents which the Working
 Group or BOF Chair has distributed.  It means having followed the
 discussions on the Working Group's mailing list or having reviewed
 the archives.  For the Working Group/BOF Chairs, it means getting all
 of the documents out early (i.e., several weeks) to give everybody
 time to read them and announcing an agenda and sticking to it.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 14] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 At the Chair's discretion, some time may be devoted to bringing new
 Working Group attendees up to speed.  In fact, long lived Working
 Groups have occasionally held entire sessions which were introductory
 in nature.  As a rule, however, a Working Group is not the place to
 go for training.  Observers are always welcome, but they must realize
 that the work effort cannot be delayed for education.  Anyone wishing
 to attend a Working Group for the first time might seek out the Chair
 prior to the meeting and ask for some introduction.
 Another thing, for everybody, to consider is that Working Groups go
 through phases.  In the initial phase (say, the first two meetings),
 all ideas are welcome.  The idea is to gather all the possible
 solutions together for consideration.  In the development phase, a
 solution is chosen and developed.  Trying to reopen issues which were
 decided more than a couple of meetings back is considered bad form.
 The final phase (the last two meetings) is where the "spit and
 polish" are applied to the architected solution.  This is not the
 time to suggest architectural changes or open design issues already
 resolved.  It's a bad idea to wait until the last minute to speak out
 if a problem is discovered.  This is especially true for people whose
 excuse is that they hadn't read the documents until the day before a
 comments period ended.
 Time at the IETF meetings is a precious thing.  Working Groups are
 encouraged to meet between IETF meetings, either in person or by
 video or telephone conference.  Doing as much work as possible over
 the mailing lists would also reduce the amount of work which must be
 done at the meeting.

RFCs and Internet-Drafts

 Originally, RFCs were just what the name implies; they were requests
 for comments.  The early RFCs were messages between the ARPANET
 architects about how to resolve certain problems.  Over the years,
 RFCs became more formal.  It reached the point that they were being
 cited as standards, even when they weren't.
 To help clear up some confusion, there are now two special sub-series
 within the RFCs: FYIs and STDs.  The For Your Information RFC sub-
 series was created to document overviews and topics which are
 introductory.  Frequently, FYIs are created by groups within the IETF
 User Services Area.  The STD RFC sub-series was created to identify
 those RFCs which do in fact specify Internet Standards.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 15] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Every RFC, including FYIs and STDs, have an RFC number by which they
 are indexed and by which they can be retrieved.  FYIs and STDs have
 FYI numbers and STD numbers, respectively, in addition to RFC
 numbers.  This makes it easier for a new Internet user, for example,
 to find all of the helpful, informational documents by looking for
 the FYIs amongst all the RFCs.  If an FYI or STD is revised, its RFC
 number will change, but its FYI or STD number will remain contant for
 ease of reference.
 There is also an RTR subseries of RFCs for Reseaux Associes pour la
 Recherche Europeenne (RARE) Technical Reports.  These are technical
 reports developed in the RARE community that are published as RFCs to
 provide easy access to the general Internet community.
 Internet-Drafts (I-D) are working documents of the IETF.  Any group
 (e.g., Working Group, BOF) or individual may submit a document for
 distribution as an I-D.  An I-D is valid for six months.  Guidelines
 require that an expiration date appear on every page of an I-D.  An
 I-D may be updated, replaced or obsoleted at any time.  It is not
 appropriate to use I-Ds as reference material or to cite them, other
 than as a "working draft" or "work in progress".
 For additional information, read the following documents:
 o  Request for Comments on Request for Comments [RFC1111]
 o  F.Y.I. on F.Y.I: Introduction to the F.Y.I notes [FYI1]
 o  Introduction to the STD Notes [RFC1311]
 o  Guidelines to Authors of Internet Drafts [GAID]
 o  The Internet Activities Board [RFC1160]
 o  The Internet Standards Process [RFC1310]
 o  Internet Official Protocol Standards [STD1]

Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)

 Q: My Working Group moved this morning.  Where is it now?
 A: Not all room assignment changes are permanent.  Check the At-A-
    Glance sheet and the message board for announcements.
 Q: Where is Room A?
 A: Check the map on the At-A-Glance sheet.  An enlarged version is on
    the bulletin board.
 Q: Where can I get a copy of the Proceedings?
 A: The Proceedings are automatically sent to each attendee about two
    months after the meeting.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 16] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 Q: When is on-site registration?
 A: The IETF registration table is set up Sunday night from 6:00 p.m.
    - 8:00 p.m. and Monday - Thursday from about 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Starting time in the mornings and Friday's hours may vary
    depending on the meeting schedule.
 Q: Where is lunch served?
 A: The meeting does not include lunch or dinner.  Ask a local host
    (somebody with a green dotted badge) for a recommendation.
 Q: Where are the receipts for the social event?
 A: The social is not managed by the IETF Secretariat.  Ask a local

Pointers to Useful Documents and Files

 This is a list of documents and files that provide useful information
 about the IETF meetings, Working Groups, and documentation.  These
 files reside in the "ietf" directory on the Anonymous FTP sites
 listed below.  Files with names beginning with "0" (zero) pertain to
 IETF meetings.  These may refer to a recently held meeting if the
 first announcement of the next meeting has not yet been sent to the
 IETF mailing list.  Files with names beginning with "1" (one) contain
 general IETF information.  This is only a partial list of the
 available files.
 o  0mtg-agenda.txt            Agenda for the meeting
 o  0mtg-at-a-glance.txt       Logistics information for the meeting
 o  0mtg-rsvp.txt              Meeting registration form
 o  0mtg-sites.txt             Future meeting sites and dates
 o  0mtg-traveldirections.txt  Directions to the meeting site
 o  0tao.txt                   This document
 o  1directories.txt           The IETF Shadow directory locations and
 o  1id-guidelines.txt         Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts
                               Contains information on writing and
                               submitting I-Ds.
 o  1ietf-description.txt      Short description of the IETF and IESG,
                               including a list of Area Directors.
 o  1nonwg-discuss.txt         A list of mailing lists created to
                               discuss specific IETF issues.
 o  1proceedings-request.txt   A Proceedings order form for the
                               current and previous meetings.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 17] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 o  1wg-summary.txt            List of all Working Groups, by Area,
                               including the name and address of the
                               chairperson, and the mailing list
 o  1wg-summary-by-acronym     Same as above, but sorted by the
                               Working Groups' acronyms.
 o  1wg-charter.txt            Abbreviated versions of all current
                               Working Group charters.
 o  1wg-charters-by-acronym    Same as above, but sorted by the
                               Working Groups' acronyms.
 Additionally, the full charters and minutes of the Working Groups and
 BOFs are archived in the "ietf" directory.
 All of these documents are available by anonymous FTP from the
 following primary sites (there may be closer shadow sites, so check
 with your network administrator):
 o  North America    Address: (
 o  Pacific Rim      Address: (
 o  Europe           Address: (
 These files are also available through the Internet Gopher at
 Residing on the same archive sites are the RFCs and Internet-Drafts.
 They are in the "rfc" and "internet-drafts" directories,
 respectively.  The file "rfc-index.txt" contains the latest
 information about the RFCs (e.g., which have been obsoleted by
 which).  In general, only the newest version of an Internet-Draft is
 All of the files, RFCs and Internet-Drafts are also available via
 email from various mail servers.  To to get the IETF agenda,
 Internet-Draft abstracts and RFC 1150 from the mail server at the
 InterNIC, for example, you would send the following message:
    To:             Message header
    Subject: anything you want
    FILE /ietf/0mtg-agenda.txt               Body of the message
    FILE /internet-drafts/1id-abstracts.txt
    FILE /rfc/rfc1150.txt
 Where: FILE specifies the name of a file to be returned and PATH
 specifies the email address to which the file(s) should be sent.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 18] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 RFCs may also be retrieved, using email, from ISI's RFC-Info server
 at "".  To get a specific RFC, include the following
 in the body of the message:
    Retrieve: RFC
     Doc-ID: RFC0951
 This example would cause a copy of RFC 951 (the leading zero in the
 Doc-ID is required) to be emailed to the requestor.  To get a list of
 available RFCs which match certain criteria, include the following in
 the body of the message:
     Keywords: Gateway
 This example would email a list of all RFCs with "Gateway" in the
 title, or as an assigned keyword, to the requestor.  To get
 information on other ways to get RFCs:
    HELP: ways_to_get_rfcs


 Pronounced "Dow", Tao means "the Way."  It is the basic principle
 behind the teachings of Lao-tse, a Chinese master. Its familiar
 symbol is the black and white Yin-Yang circle.

IETF Area Abbreviations

 APP      Applications
 INT      Internet Services
 MGT      Network Management
 OPS      Operational Requirements
 RTG      Routing
 SAP      Service Applications
 SEC      Security
 TSV      Transport
 USV      User Services

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 19] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993


 :-)      Smiley face
 ANSI     American National Standards Institute
 ARPA     Advanced Research Projects Agency
 ARPANET  Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
 AS       Autonomous System
 ATM      Asynchronous Transfer Mode
 BGP      Border Gateway Protocol
 BOF      Birds Of a Feather
 BSD      Berkeley Software Distribution
 BTW      By The Way
 CCIRN    Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks
 CCITT    International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Comittee
 CIDR     Classless Inter-Domain Routing
 CIX      Commercial Information Exchange
 CNI      Coalition for Networked Information
 CREN     The Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
 DARPA    U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (now ARPA)
 DDN      U.S. Defense Data Network
 DISA     U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency
 EGP      Exterior Gateway Protocol
 FAQ      Frequently Asked Question
 FARNET   Federation of American Research NETworks
 FIX      U.S. Federal Information Exchange
 FNC      U.S. Federal Networking Council
 FQDN     Fully Qualified Domain Name
 FYI      For Your Information (RFC)
 GOSIP    U.S. Government OSI Profile
 IAB      Internet Architecture Board
 IANA     Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
 I-D      Internet-Draft
 IEN      Internet Experiment Note
 IESG     Internet Engineering Steering Group
 IETF     Internet Engineering Task Force
 IGP      Interior Gateway Protocol
 IMHO     In My Humble Opinion
 IMR      Internet Monthly Report
 InterNIC Internet Network Information Center
 IR       Internet Registry
 IRSG     Internet Research Steering Group
 IRTF     Internet Research Task Force
 ISO      International Organization for Standardization
 ISOC     Internet Society
 ISODE    ISO Development Environment
 ITU      International Telecommunication Union
 MIB      Management Information Base
 MIME     Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 20] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

 NIC      Network Information Center
 NIS      Network Information Services
 NIST     National Institute of Standards and Technology
 NOC      Network Operations Center
 NREN     National Research and Education Network
 NSF      National Science Foundation
 OSI      Open Systems Interconnection
 PEM      Privacy Enhanced Mail
 PTT      Postal, Telegraph and Telephone
 RARE     Reseaux Associes pour la Recherche Europeenne
 RFC      Request For Comments
 RIPE     Reseaux IP Europeenne
 SIG      Special Interest Group
 STD      Standard (RFC)
 TLA      Three Letter Acronym
 TTFN     Ta-Ta For Now
 UTC      Universal Time Coordinated
 WG       Working Group
 WRT      With Respect To
 WYSIWYG  What You See is What You Get


 FYI1    Malkin, G., and J. Reynolds, "F.Y.I. on F.Y.I.", FYI 1, RFC
         1150, Proteon, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March
 GAID    "Guidelines to Authors of Internet Drafts",
 ROSE    Rose, M., "The Open Book: A Practical Perspective on OSI",
         Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1989.
 RFC1111 Postel, J., "Request for Comments on Request for Comments",
         RFC 1111, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1989.
 RFC1160 Cerf, V., "The Internet Activities Board", RFC 1160, NRI, May
 RFC1310 Chapin, L., Chair, "The Internet Standards Process", RFC
         1310, Internet Activities Board, March 1992.
 RFC1311 Postel, J., Editor, "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC
         1311, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March 1992.
 STD1    Postel, J., Editor, "Internet Official Protocol Standards",
         STD 1, RFC 1500, Internet Architecture Board, August 1993.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 21] RFC 1539 The Tao of IETF October 1993

Security Considerations

 Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Author's Address

 Gary Scott Malkin
 Xylogics, Inc.
 53 Third Avenue
 Burlington, MA  01803
 Phone:  (617) 272-8140
 EMail:  gmalkin@Xylogics.COM

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 22]

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