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

The IETF Guides Program matches experienced IETF participants with newcomers in order to aid their integration into the IETF community.

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.

What is an IETF guide? 

A guide plays the role of advisor, coach, and teacher. The combination of roles allows a guide to assist a new IETF participant in developing the skills needed to participate effectively within the IETF standards process and the IETF culture.

Is the program restricted to certain kinds of people? 

The program focuses on guiding participants who are newcomers to the IETF, but is open to all participants that have been to fewer than 5 IETF meetings. We give priority to people that have never attended an IETF meeting.

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.

What happens after a guide and program participant are matched? 

Once a match has been made, the guides system will send mail to both the guide and the participant. After that, the interactions are up to them. Useful interactions will vary based on the needs of the 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 (extremely rare!), the leads can be contacted to request a new pairing by sending mail to

As a program participant, what should I get out of the relationship?

Ideally, a participant will come away with a better understanding of the IETF, knowledge of the standards development process, and someone to turn to when questions arise. Each person's needs will be different and the IETF Guides program should be flexible enough to assist with those needs.

Can I ask for a guide if I’m only participating remotely?

When the meetings are held physically, some attendees are only able to participate remotely. The guides participation registration page does have an option for specifying that you won’t be attending the conference in person. If selected, we will try to match you with a guide that is willing to help remote participants.

What does it take to be a good program participant?

The biggest key is being willing to learn. The IETF community can be different, so a participant should be willing to listen to a different perspective (the guide's). A participant should also be proactive in asking questions so that the relationship is driven by the participant's needs and not the guide's view.

Please note that the IETF guides are volunteers who are contributing their own personal time because they care about the IETF and want to see new members attending and participating in it. They do not have infinite time and have their own work to complete at the IETF.  You can expect a number of good conversations over email, and in person (when IETF meetings are held physically), but they won’t have time to walk you from meeting room to meeting room. But we are sure you’ll be happy to have had them help you get off to the right start.