Internet-Draft I-D update January 2024
Levine Expires 3 August 2024 [Page]
Network Working Group
2026 (if approved)
Intended Status:
Best Current Practice
J. Levine
Standcore LLC

Update to the use of Internet-Drafts in the Internet Standards Process


This memo updates the way that Internet-Drafts are used in the Internet Standards Process.

Rather than expiring, Internet-Drafts are marked Active or Inactive. Also, the rules for referencing Internet-Drafts in other documents are clarified.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on 3 August 2024.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Section 2 of [RFC2026] describes the way that Internet-Drafts are used in the standards process. It says that after six months, an I-D "is simply removed from the Internet-Drafts directory." It also says in a highlighted box "Under no circumstances should an Internet-Draft be referenced by any paper, report, or Request-for-Proposal." In practice, neither of those have turned out to be true.

This memo creates an Active flag to indicate whether an I-D is currently active. It also updates the advice about referencing I-Ds to reflect existing practice.

This memo does not use RFC2119 keywords because it's not about technical interoperation.

[[ please remove this section before publication ]]

The mailing list would be a good place to argue about this draft.

2. Active and Inactive Drafts

Drafts will no longer expire, and instead are marked Active or Inactive to indicate whether the authors are still likely to be working on them.

2.1. How Drafts Expire Now

When the xmlrfc version of an I-D is rendered into text, HTML, or PDF, the headings in the rendered version include an an "Expired:" line with a date six months after the date that the I-D was rendered. The "Status of This Memo" boilerplate states that the draft is valid for a maximum of six months, and "It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or other than 'work in progress'".

Currently, the IETF stores in the IETF's Datatracker indefinitely. If more than six months have passed since the I-D was submitted and the I-D has not been superseded, the Datatracker shows an orange warning box saying "This Internet-Draft is no longer active" but still contains the same links to display the I-D. The rsync server at contains one collection "internet-drafts" with currently active I-Ds, i.e., ones that are less than six months old and have not been superseded, and another collection "id-archive" which contains drafts as far back as 1992.

Once an I-D has expired, the only way to get it out of expired status is to submit a new version of the I-D, which may be identical other than the version number.

2.2. Making Drafts Active or Inactive

Internet-Drafts will no longer have an expiration date. When a draft is submitted, it is marked Active. The IESG may set the details of when drafts subsequently become Inactive or Active, but here are some suggestions:

If a draft is superseded, it becomes Inactive.

After a draft has been Active for six months and is not adopted by a working group or the analogous state in other streams, it becomes Inactive.

Authors of a draft that is Inactive but not superseded can make it Active again and the six month timer restarts. There is no limit to how many times a draft can be marked Active. It would be nice to send a courtesy notification when a draft is about to become Inactive so the author can restart the timer.

2.3. Draft changes

The XML and rendered copies of drafts continue to have the date that the draft was submiteed, but no expiration date. If technically feasible, e.g., in HTML, it would be nice if there were a way to query and display the Active/Inactive status and history of the draft, perhaps by clicking a button in the boilerplate.

3. Referencing an Internet-Draft

In some cases it is acceptable to use an Internet-Draft as a reference in another document.

Internet-Drafts can reference other I-Ds without limit. (Drafts in a cluster reference each other with the expectation that the references will change to RFCs when published.) RFCs can use Internet-Drafts as informative references but not as normative ones.

4. Changes to the boilerplate text

The "Status of This Memo" boilerplate inserted into rendered versions of Internet-Drafts will be changed to reflect the changes in Section 2 and Section 3. The new text is:


5. Security considerations

This memo only changes some details of the Internet Standards editorial process and should have no effect on the security of the Internet.

6. Informative References

Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026, , <>.

Author's Address

John Levine
Standcore LLC