Historically the work of the IETF has been conducted over mailing lists. This has been to ensure the widest possible involvement in the process. This process is not as efficient in terms of producing specifications as extended face-to-face meetings but 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 general common understanding of the issues involved in a particular area. 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.
In the past year or two some IETF working groups have also begun to hold regular conference calls to substitute for face-to-face meetings and to speed up the working group process.
RFC 2418 section 3.1 tell 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."
"Advance notification" and "process" require prior approval of the meeting or conference call by the relevant area directors and publication of an announcement on the ietf-announce list at least one month prior to the meeting or call. This requirements includes the timely publication of an agenda for the meeting or call. All such meetings or calls must be open to all who wish to take part. Detailed minutes are required to be taken and submitted and a list of attendees must also be submitted. This applies to all in-person 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 or conference calls for small design teams producing input to working groups. It should also be noted that as RFC 2418 section 3.2 points out, decisions at meetings (normal, interim or conference call) are not final and must be reviewed on the mailing list.
The area directors will evaluate proposed interim meetings and conference calls to be sure that that the location, timing, etc. do not unfairly favor some subset of the potential attendees and that the proposed meeting or call will not unfairly bias the working group discussions. Interim meetings which are proposed to eliminate the need for a working group to meet during a regular IETF meeting will not generally be approved nor will proposals of interim meetings to be held within 30 days before a regular IETF meeting.
Requests for Interim meetings must be sent to the appropriate Area Director for approval. The actual announcement text must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, you may send one message, copying both the Area Director AND iesg-secretary.
- WG Interim meetings and Conference Calls need approval of relevant ADs
- They must be announced at least 30 days in advance
- Text of announcement must be sent to email@example.com
- The proposed agenda must be published at least 15 days before meeting
- They cannot be held within 30 days prior to an IETF meeting
- They must be scheduled (location/timing) with fair access for all WG participants
- They do not substitute for the mailing list, and any decisions are not final and must be approved on the WG mailing list
- Detailed minutes (including list of attendees) must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org within 10 days of the meeting