2.8 User Services Area

User Services Area Report
User Services Area Report
43rd IETF - Orlando, Florida, US
December 1998
April Marine (amarine@archimedes.nasa.gov)

The User Services (USV) Area has three active working groups. Two are near the end of their goals and did not meet in Orlando. The User Services Working Group (USWG) met three times in Orlando as it is the forum for developing new work and spinning off new working groups.

The Site Security Handbook (SSH) working group is chaired by Barbara Fraser.

SSH has just finished the document "Users Security Handbook", which helps users understand what they themselves can do to promote the security of their systems. It is addressed both to users working within large organizations that have a systems support staff, and to users working at home and acting as their own system administrators. This document was on the IESG agenda for review at the time of the Orlando meeting, so SSH did not meet as it had nothing to discuss. Since the meeting, this document has been approved for publication and the SSH group will shut down at that time. It created two extremely useful documents.

The Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) Working Group is chaired by Sally Hambridge.

RUN did not meet in Orlando. It has the document "Don't Spew: A Set of Guidelines for Mass Unsolicited Mailings and Postings (spam)" before the IESG currently and has been working on comments received. The chair was unable to attend the meeting in Orlando. A second draft describing responsible advertising methods is under discussion.

The User Services Working Group (USWG) is chaired by April Marine.

USWG met three times in Orlando, with each meeting having a distinct agenda. The three main topics of discussion were:
1) an update of FYI4, the FAQ for New Internet Users;
2) an update of FYI 1 to alert readers to the status of the individual FYIs, especially regarding whether some should be considered obsolete;
3) a shift to publishing material online rather than only as FYI RFC documents.

Of most long-term interest is the last item. Two major themes seemed to emerge. First, there was interest in creating information not only for new Internet users, but also for new IETF "users." It was felt that providing information that leads to a better understanding of what the IETF is working on and why would meet the needs not only of people coming to the IETF for the first time, but of new net users in general.

Second, there was a lot of interest in trying to capture future trends of the Internet, probably by focusing on the work of the various IETF Areas and extrapolating from that. However, it was agreed that not only should information be reported, but as much as possible it would be useful to interpret the information and explain why a user might care that any particular bit of work was taking place in the IETF. How might it affect his future experience with the net?

Those two points address the content of material. Also discussed was format, with the strong feeling being that putting more information online via the Web (at least initially) would be more timely and responsive than depending on the RFC mechanism. However, for the purposes of archiving, an FYI could be published once a year that captures the state of the online version. Emphasis was also placed on the need to continue to make information as available as possible to a large number of people around the world, many of whom may not have access to the latest applications.

It is recognized that having web pages be the goal or product of a Working Group or Area is something of a departure for the IETF; however, USV plans to give it a try in order to be responsive to network user needs. Anyone interested in this project can contact the Area Director.