Historically the work of the IETF has been conducted over mailing lists. This practice ensures the widest possible involvement in the working group process. This practice allows more in-depth analysis of proposals than extended face-to-face meetings and is much more inclusive. In general IETF face-to-face meetings are used to hold high-bandwidth discussions on specific issues that have not been able to be resolved on a mailing list or, in the case of BOFs, to get a common understanding of the issues involved in a particular topic. These face-to-face meetings can be quite important but are not substitutes for mailing list discussions.
There is a long history in the IETF of working groups occasionally holding "interim" face-to-face meetings between the regular IETF meetings to focus on specific issues or resolve specific problems. Interim face-to-face meetings can consume a lot of community resources, including travel costs and time of participants. When considering whether to approve an interim face-to-face meeting, area directors are expected to balance the costs to the community associated with interim meetings and the expected benefits. Also, there could be benefits when two or more working groups meet together. Interim face-to-face meetings which are proposed to eliminate the need for a working group to meet during a regular IETF meeting will not generally be approved.
Working group chairs should propose interim face-to-face meeting logistics concerning location, timing, and remote participation to maximize meeting participation among WG participants.
The Secretariat is available to help with logistics of face-to-face interim meetings. Of course, the larger the meeting, the more lead time is needed to make arrangements.
Virtual interim meetings (conference calls and jabber sessions) are commonly used by working groups: some working groups organize bi-weekly, or even weekly virtual meetings. Those virtual interim meetings prove very useful and productive in accelerating the working group process. Virtual interim meetings are an integral part of the IETF way of working and are expected to become more commonplace over time.
RFC 2418 section 3.1 tells us that "interim meetings are subject to the same rules for advance notification, reporting, open participation, and process, which apply to other Working Group meetings". This applies to all face-to-face meetings to which a large part of the working group is invited, even if labeled as 'informal' to distinguish them from 'real' working group meetings. This does not apply to meetings, conference calls, or jabber sessions for small design teams producing input to working groups. Virtual interim meetings have other rules that must be obeyed, as specified in this IESG statement.
Extended sequences of virtual interim meetings should be considered when numerous specific issues need to be debated. Where working group chairs wish to schedule a sequence of more than four virtual interims, the chairs must explicitly set out the reasoning for that in a mail to the list and check that there is rough consensus for that plan. Such extended sequences also require AD approval.
Occasionally working group chairs or ADs might help organize meetings to discuss vulnerabilities discovered in IETF protocols or implementations. Those are not WG meetings and hence not described here.
The guidelines for interim meetings are as follows:
- For face-to-face interim meetings of IETF working groups:
- The meetings need prior approval of relevant AD(s).
- The meetings must be scheduled (location/timing) with fair access for all working group participants.
- The meetings must be announced at least four weeks before the meeting.
- The draft agenda must be published at least two weeks before meeting.
- Announcement text must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for IETF-wide announcement.
- Remote participation (via Meetecho or similar) should be provided
- Minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to the working group mailing list and, within 10 days of the event (and at least 48 hours before subsequent meeting), uploaded to the Interim Proceedings Tool or sent to email@example.com.
- For virtual interim meetings of IETF working groups:
- The meetings are scheduled by the working group chairs, who should discuss their plans with the responsible AD(s).
- The meetings must be scheduled (timing) with fair access for all working group participants.
- The meetings must be announced and the draft agenda published at least one week (ideally two) before the call or session.
- Announcement text must be posted to the relevant working group mailing list(s)
- Recurring meetings (used only if much debate is expected), may be scheduled together, with a single announcement. A separate draft agenda, serving as a meeting reminder, should be posted before each recurrence.
- Minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to the working group mailing list within 10 days of the event (and at least 48 hours before subsequent meeting), and must be uploaded to the Datatracker (https://datatracker.ietf.org/group/[wgacronym]/meetings, e.g. https://datatracker.ietf.org/group/dispatch/meetings/) or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- It should also be noted that as RFC 2418 section 3.2 points out, decisions at meetings (normal, interim. conference call, or jabber session) are not final and must be reviewed on the mailing list. Special care needs to be taken with this for topics or issues which have not been discussed on the mailing list or for outcomes that are significantly different from previously arrived mailing list consensus.
Information on how to set up conference calls can be found on the WG Chairs page (http://www.ietf.org/wg/chairs-page.html).
Note: This statement was originally published on 11 January 2016. It was edited 5 February , 11 January 2018. and 1 May 2020.