User Services (uswg)

NOTE: This charter is a snapshot of that in effect at the time of the 38th IETF Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. It may now be out-of-date.


Joyce K. Reynolds <>

User Services Area Director(s): 

Joyce Reynolds <>

Mailing Lists: 

To Subscribe:

Description of Working Group: 

The User Services Working Group provides a regular forum for people interested in user services to identify and initiate projects designed to improve the quality of information available to end-users of the Internet. (Note that the actual projects themselves will be handled by separate groups, such as IETF working groups created to perform certain projects, or outside organizations such as SIGUCCS.)

1.   Meet on a regular basis to consider projects designed to improve services to end-users. In general, projects should: 
- Clearly address user assistance needs; 
- Produce an end-result (e.g., a document, a program plan, etc.); 
- Have a reasonably clear approach to achieving the end-result (with an estimated time for completion); and 
- Not duplicate existing or previous efforts. 
2.   Create working groups or other focus groups to carry out projects deemed worthy of pursuing. 
3.   Provide a forum in which user services providers can discuss and identify common concerns.
No Goals and Milestones

No Current Internet-Drafts

Request For Comments:





F.Y.I. on F.Y.I.: Introduction to the F.Y.I. notes


FYI on Questions and Answers - Answers to Commonly Asked ``New Internet User'' Questions


FYI on Questions and Answers - Answers to Commonly asked ``New Internet User'' Questions


Answers to Commonly asked ``Experienced Internet User'' Questions


FYI on Questions and Answers to Commonly asked ``New Internet User'' Questions


FYI on ``What is the Internet?''


FYI on Questions and Answer Answers to Commonly asked ``New Internet User'' Questions

Current Meeting Report

Minutes of the User Services (USV) Working Group 

Subscription/Unsubscription requests for the User Services Working Group email list should be sent to on the agenda was a report on IETF User Services Area activities. The following working groups and one BOF in the USV Area met at this IETF: HARTS, ISN, ISNII BOF, RUN, SSH, IDS, STDGUIDE, and USWG. 

The related USV Area I-Ds and FYI RFCs include:


RFCs-to-be (approved by IESG, currently in RFC-ED queue for publication):


Next on the agenda were the reports on related global liaison group activities and international conferences. 

The InterNIC report was provided by Tom Newell and Susan Calcari. 

Tom Newell (<>) presented an update to his InterNIC endeavors. Patrick Crispen's ROADMAP96 is now available on the web from the InterNIC. This Internet workshop has been extremely successful, and the InterNIC is pleased to facilitate the distribution of this popular tool for beginners. The InterNIC project called, the 15-Minute series is also proving itself successfully. This series offers tools for the Internet trainer which are modular, extensible, "15-minute" sessions on Internet-related topics. Tom is currently working on the monthly InterNIC Electronic Newsletter. The next installment will have an article and sidebars on the IETF, what's new that is currently going on, including the User Services Area. Tom is also working with Joyce on updating the User Services Area's web pages that are being housed at the InterNIC, along with links to the IETF web pages. 

Susan Calcari (<>) provided a report on NetScout. NetScout is associated with the University of Wisconsin, with a staff of seven, including folks that work on the net-happenings mailing list. The Scout Toolkit was updated with a target to meeting an expressed need from a focus group for additional summary and analysis information about the scout tools. As noted at the last User Services Working Group session in San Jose, cheat sheets for the major search engines and directories have been created as handouts when providing training. These are not being distributed as hardcopy, but there are PostScript and Adobe pdf format available from the NetScout web page. The KIDS newsletter that is being produced is successful. It is a newsletter on the 

Internet by kids for kids. The publication target is every two weeks, with four schools working on it (two in Madison, WI and two in Boulder, CO). 

The TERENA/IETF ETINU report was presented next. TERENA is the Trans-European Research and Education Network Association. The TERENA web page is located at 

A newly formed group, called ETINU, is the "Environment To Inspire Network Users". It is a joint effort of the TERENA Information Services and User Support (ISUS) and the IETF User Services Area. Its charter and focus is in developing a system to deliver enhanced user support via the network. 

Some of the objectives include:

·   Prioritize main issues related to user support today, including: helpdesk queries, FAQs, software updates, hardware fault reporting, documentation, online training 
·   Discuss the pros/cons of online support as opposed to conventional methods
·   Collate experiences of help desk software
·   Collect references to relevant papers, articles, web sites, etc. and link them from a task force home page 
·   Identify and evaluate any available online support systems 
·   Identify the features of an ideal online support system 
·   Build pilot online support service which could act as model for many sites
·   Standardize appropriate elements of the pilot system via RFC process

The leaders of this effort believe we should be supporting, inspiring, and encouraging the user to make fuller use of the network to overcome their difficulties AND also help others when possible. 

To join, send an email message to: containing the text: 

subscribe tf-etinu 'your real name' replacing 'your real name' as appropriate. 

An update on TERENA's ETINU Task Force activities were reported by Christine Cahoon (<>) to Joyce Reynolds via email the day after the User Services Working Group session. It is recorded here for the User Service Working Group's information and comment. 

In January at the UK UCTLIG (Universities and Colleges Teaching Learning and Information Group) Workshop, "Technology to help Advisors," at Bradford University, I gave a presentation on ETINU. 


The amount of positive feedback was very encouraging. It also helped identify other systems for evaluation, such as Lotus Notes using a Domino web server. It's commercial, but it looks very good and comprehensive. 

Following the January workshop we submitted a paper to JENC8 and it was accepted. Also, we have just heard that the paper has been accepted for INET97 as well. 


Progressing Work 

I feel that, generally, Computing Services staff are reluctant to get too involved in developing a system because they are mostly under resourced, stressed, and/or ill-managed. They prefer 'easy' solutions. 

To 'get the best' from the ETINU list, we're planning to create a simple online questionnaire containing brief snappy questions about the issues below. This will at least give us some 'real' evidence regarding what the consensus out there is on 'advanced user support.'

·   Respondent's role within organization
·   Software used
·   Procedures used
·   Perceived need for change in current working practice
·   Is change needed in adopted technologies, people management or both
·   Reaction to an online support system
·   Importance attached to developing a standard way of providing online support
·   Providing keywords that summarize most important requirements of user support today

More can be added -- will try and make it a point and click business except for the keywords that should be freetext. Hopefully we can spread it beyond the current ETINU list to increase the sample to several hundred. 

We believe the results will be very relevant to User Services Working Group and TERENA ISUS. 

The last report was on INET97, the Internet Society's (ISOC) annual conference that will be held in June 1997 in Malaysia. There is a "User Track," with Mark Prior (Australia) and Joyce K. Reynolds (USA) as the co-track leaders. 

The User Track final sessions for INET97 include:

·   Disabilities
·   Using Technology
·   Electronic Publishing
·   Network Information Retrieval
·   Community Networking
·   Impact of the Internet
·   Disabilities Panel

There will also be a K12 INET session before the actual INET conference. 

Discussion and attendee participation focussed on the final topic in User Services Working Group's agenda - updating FYI 4, RFC 1594 ("FYI on Questions and Answers: Answers to Commonly asked "New Internet User" Questions"). This was led by Jodi Ito and Sepi Boroumand, with additional assistance by Tom Newell. 

The group went through the exercise of defining, who is the audience now? The notion of being creative with new questions, feel free to take out old questions and restructure the document FYI 4 was agreed on by the participants. A new outline was developed as the group went through the original table of contents: 

Questions about the Internet. This includes, What is the Internet? (not a BBS, AOL, Microsoft, Web), Internet governance - top-level domains?, Internet registries, How do I find out if a site has a computer on the Internet?, and How do I get a list of all the hosts on the Internet? 

How does it work? This includes, What is TCP/IP?, What is HTTP? (versus HTTPS), What are other well-known protocols?, What is a URL?, What is DNS?, and What is a Fully Qualified Domain Name? 

What can I do? This includes, What is the Wold-wide Web? (Netscape and other browsers), How do I create my own web page/server?, What is TELNET?, What is (anonymous) FTP?, What is USENET news?, What is gopher?, What is CHAT?, What is MUD/MOO?, What is email?, How do I find someone's email address?, How do I find xxx web page?, and How do I make money on the Internet? 

What if it doesn't work? This includes, email, web page, ftp, and gopher. 

What about security and privacy on the Internet? This includes, TRUST NO ONE!, What am I at risk for?, firewalls, proxy servers?, certificates, PGP, cookies, public key, viruses, electronic commerce, and implications when using company email - personal versus private opinion. 

How do I find out more? This includes, What is an RFC?, How do I obtain RFCs?, How do I obtain a list of RFCs?, What is the RFC-INFO service?, Which RFCs are Standards?, What is an FYI?, What is an STD?, What is the Internet Monthly Report?, What is an Internet Draft? Are there any guidelines available for writing one?, How do I obtain OSI Standards documents?, What is the IAB?, What is the IETF?, What is the IRTF?, What is the Internet Society?, What is the IANA, What is a NIC? What is a NOC?, What is the InterNIC? What is the DDN NIC 

(, and What is the IR? Other subjects of interest to develop are, Kids on the Internet is it safe?, Is it true what I heard...? (Internet urban legends). Rounding out the document will be a References section and a Glossary. 


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