Frequently Asked Questions about being a Guide in the IETF Guides Program

Here are some questions commonly asked about being a Guide, and answers for each of them.

Key Info

  1. What is the IETF Guides Program?

    The goal of the IETF Guides Program is to match experienced IETF participants with newcomers (people who have participated in five or fewer face-to-face meetings or anyone registering as a student) in order to aid their integration into the IETF community through advice, help, and collected wisdom. The assistance provided by the guides should speed up the time it takes for newcomers to become active, contributing members of the IETF.

  2. What is an IETF guide?

    A guide plays the role of advisor, coach, and teacher. The combinations of roles allows a guide to provide the advice needed to assist the participant in developing the skills needed to participate effectively within the IETF standards process. 
  3. What skills are needed to be a guide?

    The biggest skill needed is a willingness to share your knowledge of the IETF with a program participant. This can include explaining: 1) the IETF standards development process, 2) the IETF management structure, 3) other IETF participants' skill sets, 4) the working group creation process, and 5) technical knowledge.

  4. How much time will being a guide take?

    The amount of time is variable based on an agreement between the guide and the program participant. It is hoped that the relationship will extend beyond the interactions during the face-to-face meetings, but the meetings are used to kick-start the relationship.

  5. How does one become an IETF guide?

    Anyone who feels comfortable they can answer (or find someone who can answer) questions about the IETF can volunteer to be a guide If interested, send email to

  6. Is the IETF Guide program restricted to certain kinds of people?

    Initially, the program is focused on participants who are newcomers to the IETF. If the program progresses in a positive direction, we will explore opening up the program to all participants. Anyone currently involved in the IETF (and NomCom eligible) is eligible to be a guide.

  7. How are matches made between guides and participants?

    A small group of IETF participants have volunteered to act as coordinators. The coordinators have areas of expertise and will work with the characteristics identified by the participants to match them with guides who have similar interests and areas of work.

  8. What makes a good guide?

    A successful guide will be flexible, responsive, and willing to take the initiative to provide assistance. A guide should have the confidence that they have useful knowledge that will aid a program participant. Experience in the IETF culture will allow the guide to recognize areas where newcomers will struggle within the IETF and allow the guide to pass along constructive information. This is especially key in the areas of cultural norms and the IETF environment.

  9. What happens after a guide and program participant are matched?

    Once a match has been made, the guide should initiate contact with the participant. After that, the interactions are up to them. Useful interactions will vary based on the needs of the program participant and the skills of the guide. In the event that a guide or participant is unresponsive or the pair decide that the match is not constructive, the coordinators can be contacted to request a new pairing.

  10. What if my participant has a question that I cannot answer?

    When someone volunteers to be a guide, they will be added to a mailing list. One of the goals of this list is to provide a discussion forum for the guides to brainstorm over problems raised by a participant that couldn't be immediately answered. It is also expected that guides will not know all the answers, but should be in a good position to point the participant in the right direction. This includes assisting in searching out the answer to the question.

  11. How does the IETF Guides program work?

    During IETF meeting registration, newcomers will be identified and given the opportunity to request a guide. After the request is made, the coordinators will assess the areas of interest of the newcomer and select a guide from a pool of volunteers. The guide will be selected based on areas of common interest between the guide and participant. After the match is made, an introductory e-mail will be sent to the guide and participant in order to provide contact information. After that, it is up to the guide and participant to determine how the relationship will progress. After the face-to-face IETF meeting, the program organizers will send out a brief questionnaire to determine how well the program is functioning.