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Network Working Group IETF Secretariat Request for Comments: 1718 CNRI Obsoletes: 1539, 1391 G. Malkin FYI: 17 Xylogics, Inc. Category: Informational November 1994

                          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
 one third of the attendees are new to the IETF at each meeting, and
 many of those go on to become regular attendees.  When the meetings
 were smaller, it wasn't very difficult for a newcomer to get into the
 swing of things.  Today, however, a newcomer meets many more new
 people, some previously known only as the authors of documents or
 thought provoking e-mail messages.
 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.

On-line Availability

 Due to the nature of this document, it can become outdated quite
 quickly.  To overcome this problem, a WorldWide Web version has been
 created that is constantly maintained (the URL is listed below).  If
 you have a WWW client (such as Mosaic), it is suggested that you view
 the on-line version in lieu of this document.  This document will be
 republished as an FYI RFC every year to year-and-a-half to help those
 who do not have access to the WorldWide Web.
 URL for this document: <>.
 URL for IETF: <>.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 1] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

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  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
    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 E-mail Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
    IETF Proceedings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
    InterNIC Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
    Be Prepared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
    RFCs and Internet-Drafts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
    Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)  . . . . . . . 17
    Pointers to Useful Documents and Files  . . . . . . . . . . . 18
 Section 3 - The "Reference" Stuff
    Tao . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
    IETF Area Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
    Acronyms  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
    Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
    References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
    Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
    Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

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 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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 meeting is not a conference, although there are technical
 presentations.  The IETF is not a traditional standards organization,
 although many specifications are produced that become standards.  The
 IETF is made up of 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 1st 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 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 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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.
 The IETF met in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in July, 1993. This was
 the the first IETF meeting held in Europe, and the US/non-US attendee
 split was nearly 50/50.  A second European meeting is scheduled for
 July 1995 in Stockholm, Sweden.

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,
 the IAB, the IESG and the IETF itself.
 The Internet Society 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 ISOC
 Trustees are 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 Trustees.  The IESG is directly
 responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement
 along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of
 specifications as Internet Standards.
 The IETF is divided into eight functional areas.  They are:
 Applications, Internet, Network Management, Operational Requirements,
 Routing, Security, Transport and User Services.  Each area has one or
 two area directors.  The area directors, along with the IETF/IESG
 Chair, form the IESG.  Paul Mockepetris is the current IETF/IESG

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 4] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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 specification, 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 is 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) sessions.  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

IETF Mailing Lists

 Anyone who plans to attend an IETF meeting should join the IETF
 announcement mailing list.  This is where all of the meeting
 information, Internet-Draft and RFC announcements, and IESG Protocol
 Actions and Last Calls are posted.  People who would like to "get
 technical" may also join the IETF discussion list,
 "".  This is where discussions of cosmic
 significance are held (most working groups have their own mailing
 lists for discussions related 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.
 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 e-mail addresses or leaving a list, send
 your request only to the "-request" address, not to the main list.
 This means you!!

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 5] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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 messages 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.  There are two lines: "paid" (which moves very
 quickly), and "not paid" (which moves slowly).
 Registration is open all week.  However, the Secretariat highly
 recommends that attendees arrive for early registration, beginning at
 18:00 (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 bite to eat.  If the registration
 lines are long, one can eat first and try again when the lines are
 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 and BOF
 room assignments and a map of room locations.  Attendees who prepaid
 will also find their receipt in their packet.

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 IETF Secretariat is made up of Cynthia Clark, Steve
 Coya, Debra Legare, John Stewart and Megan Walnut.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 6] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 The orientation is typically about an hour 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 structure of the IETF and the Internet standards process.
 There is ample time at the end for questions.  The Secretariat also
 provides handouts which include an overview of the IETF, a list of
 important files available on-line and hard copies of the slides of
 the "structure and standards" presentation.
 The orientation is held on Sunday afternoon 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:
    blue   - working group/BOF chair
    green  - local Host
    red    - IAB member
    yellow - IESG member
 Local hosts are the people who can answer questions about the
 terminal room, restaurants and points of interest in the area.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 7] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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.
 In addition, members of the Secretariat wear blue tinted name badges
 so they can be spotted at a distance.
 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 T. 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.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 8] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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.
 Newcomers to the IETF are encouraged to attend the social event.
 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.


 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 desk (not the hotel registration desk).
 Assignments for breakout rooms (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 desk.

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 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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
 There is always a "materials distribution table" near the
 registration desk.  This desk is used to make appropriate information
 available to the attendees (e.g., copies of something discussed in a
 working group session, description of on-line IETF-related
 information, etc.).  Please check with the Secretariat before placing
 materials on the desk; the Secretariat has the right to remove
 material that they feel is not appropriate.

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, e-mail or fax.  Generally, e-mail and
    fax registration forms will be accepted until 13:00 US/Eastern on
    the Thursday before the meeting.
 o  You may preregister and pay, preregister and pay later,
    preregister and pay on-site, or register and pay on-site.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 10] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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.
 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 US$20 service charge.  Late fees will not
    be refunded.
 o  The registration fee covers 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.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 11] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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.
 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 E-mail Addresses

 There are some important IETF e-mail addresses with which everyone
 should be familiar.  They are all located at ""
 (e.g., "").  To personalize things, the
 names of the Secretariat staff who currently 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 Walnut
 o ietf-rsvp         queries about meeting locations and fees,
                     e-mailed registration forms - Debra Legare
 o proceedings       queries about ordering hard copies of previous
                     proceedings, and general questions about on-line
                     proceedings - Debra Legare and John Stewart
 o ietf-request      requests to join/leave IETF lists - Cynthia Clark
 o internet-drafts   Internet-Draft submissions and queries - Cynthia
                     Clark and John Stewart
 o iesg-secretary    John Stewart
 o ietf-secretariat  Steve Coya

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 12] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

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 names, affiliations, work and fax phone
 numbers and e-mail addresses as provided on the registration form.
 Folks who register and pay to attend the IETF are eligible to receive
 a hard copy of the proceedings. They must indicate so on the line
 provided on the registration form.  The proceedings are sent to the
 mailing addresses provided on the registration forms.  Please notify
 the Secretariat immediately if your address information changes after
 the meeting ends so you can be assured of receiving your copy.
 For those who could not attend a meeting but would like a copy of the
 proceedings, send a check for US$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
 The proceedings are also available on-line via:
 o Gopher: <>
 o WorldWide Web: <>
 o Anonymous FTP: <> in /ietf-online-
 People are encouraged to use the on-line version of the proceedings
 to save paper and money, as well as to have the Internet community
 use its own technology.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 13] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

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 relevant 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.
 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 e-mail.
 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 the "InterNIC Directory and Database Services ..." item
    Then menu item named "Internet Documentation (RFCs FYIs, 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).

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 14] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

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.
 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.

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 15] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

RFCs and Internet-Drafts

 Originally, RFCs were just what the name implies:  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.
 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 constant
 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 are working documents of the IETF.  Any group or
 individual may submit a document for distribution as an Internet-
 Draft.  These documents are valid for six months, and may be updated,
 replaced or obsoleted at any time.  Guidelines require that an
 expiration date appear on every page of an Internet-Draft.  It is not
 appropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite
 them, other than as "working drafts" or "works in progress."
 For additional information, read the following documents:
 o  Request for Comments on Request for Comments [RFC 1111]
 o  F.Y.I. on F.Y.I: Introduction to the F.Y.I notes [FYI1]
 o  Introduction to the STD Notes [RFC 1311]
 o  Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts [GAID]
 o  The Internet Activities Board [RFC 1160]
 o  The Internet Standards Process [RFC 1602]
 o  Internet Official Protocol Standards [STD1]

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 16] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)

 Q: My working group moved this morning.  Where is it now?
 A: Check the at-a-glance sheet and the message board for
 Q: Where is room 'foo'?
 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: If you have registered and paid to attend an IETF meeting simply
    indicate you wish to receive a hardcopy of the proceedings and it
    will be mailed to you.  For on-line retrieval refer to "IETF
    Proceedings" section which appears on page thirteen of this RFC.
    Both the hardcopy and on-line version of the proceedings are
    generally available two months after the meeting.
 Q: When is on-site registration?
 A: On-site registration is first possible from 18:00 to 20:00 on the
    Sunday night before the meeting starts. The IETF registration desk
    will be set up in the same room in which the reception is held.
    On-site registration on Monday begins at 8:00, Tuesday through
    Friday at 8:30, and is open until 18:00 every day but Friday.
 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

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 17] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

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.  File 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.  File names beginning with "1" (one) contain general
 IETF information.  This is only a partial list of the available
 files.  (The 'yymm' below refers to the year and month.)
 o  0mtg-agenda.txt                Agenda for the meeting
 o  0mtg-at-a-glance-yymm.txt      Logistics information for the meeting
 o  0mtg-rsvp.txt                  Meeting registration form
 o  0mtg-sites.txt                 Future meeting sites and dates
 o  0mtg-multicast-guide-yymm.txt  Schedule for MBone-multicast sessions
 o  0mtg-traveldirections-yymm.txt Directions to the meeting site
 o  0tao.txt                       This document
 o  1directories.txt               IETF shadow directory locations and
 o  1id-guidelines.txt             Guidelines to authors of Internet-
 o  1ietf-description.txt          Short description of the IETF and
                                   IESG, including a list of area
 o  1nonwg-discuss.txt             A list of mailing lists relevant to
                                   the IETF, but not associated with
                                   working groups
 o  1proceedings-request.txt       A proceedings order form
 o  1wg-summary.txt                List of all working groups, by
                                   area, including the chair(s) and
                                   mailing list
 o  1wg-summary-by-acronym.txt     Same as above, but sorted by
 o  1wg-charter.txt                Abbreviated versions of all current
                                   working group charters
 o  1wg-charters-by-acronym.txt    Same as above, but sorted by
 Additionally, the full charters and minutes of the working groups and
 BOFs are archived under the "ietf" directory (see 1directories.txt
 for a complete explanation).

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 18] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 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  Europe: (
 o  Pacific Rim: (
 o  US/East Coast: (
 o  US/West Coast: (
 These files are also available through the Internet Gopher on host
 "" and the WorldWide Web server at URL
 Residing on the same archive sites are the RFCs and Internet-Drafts.
 They are in the "rfc" and "internet-drafts" directories,
 respectively.  The file "1rfc_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 e-
 mail 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 is an
 optional command that specifies the e-mail address to which the
 file(s) should be sent.  The file(s) can be returned in one or more
 MIME messages by adding the command "ENCODING mime" to the top of the

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 19] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 RFCs may also be retrieved via e-mail 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 e-mailed 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 e-mail a list of all RFCs with "gateway" in the
 title or as an assigned keyword.  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
 IPNG     IP: Next Generation
 MGT      Network Management
 OPS      Operational Requirements
 RTG      Routing
 SEC      Security
 TSV      Transport
 USV      User Services

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 20] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994


 :-)      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 Committee
 CIDR     Classless Inter-Domain Routing
 CIX      Commercial Information Exchange
 CNI      Coalition for Networked Information
 CREN     The Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
 DARPA    US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (now ARPA)
 DDN      US Defense Data Network
 DISA     US Defense Information Systems Agency
 EGP      Exterior Gateway Protocol
 FAQ      Frequently Asked Question
 FARNET   Federation of American Research NETworks
 FIX      US Federal Information Exchange
 FNC      US Federal Networking Council
 FQDN     Fully Qualified Domain Name
 FYI      For Your Information (RFC)
 GOSIP    US 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
 IPng     IP: Next Generation
 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

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 21] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 MIME     Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
 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


 The IETF Secretariat would like to acknowledge the time and efforts
 of Gary Malkin who prepared the first version of this document (RFC
 1391), and coordinated all the changes in the first revision (RFC
 1539).  Without his help, this document might still be "in progress."


 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.
 RFC1543 Postel, J., "Request for Comments on Request for Comments",
         RFC 1543, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1989.
 RFC1160 Cerf, V., "The Internet Activities Board", RFC 1160, NRI, May

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 22] RFC 1718 The Tao of IETF November 1994

 RFC1602 Chapin, L., Chair, "The Internet Standards Process", RFC
         1602, 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 1720, Internet Architecture Board, November 1994.

Security Considerations

 Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Authors' Addresses

 The IETF Secretariat
 c/o Corporation for National Research Initiatives
 1895 Preston White Drive
 Suite 100
 Reston, VA  22091
 Phone:  +1 703 620 8990
 Fax:    +1 703 620 0913
 Gary Scott Malkin
 Xylogics, Inc.
 53 Third Avenue
 Burlington, MA  01803
 Phone:  +1 617 272 8140
 EMail:  gmalkin@Xylogics.COM

Internet Engineering Task Force [Page 23]

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