1.6 On-Line IETF Information

The Internet Engineering Task Force maintains up-to-date, on-line information on all of its activities. The following sub-sections contain:
  • Instructions on how to access IETF information via the WWW, FTP, and e-mail;
  • Descriptions of the content of several FTP directories;
  • Descriptions of the different formats of proceedings available; and,
  • Descriptions of the IETF mailing lists and instructions on how to subsribe.

Electronic Access

Web Access

IETF-related information is available via the World Wide Web.

FTP Access

The IETF information described below is available by anonymous FTP from several sites.

The Internet-Drafts on these machines are stored in UNIX compressed form.

To retrieve this information, FTP to one of the above sites, log in with username anonymous and your e-mail address as the password. When logged in, change to the desired directory (using the cd command), and retrieve the desired files (using the get command).

E-mail Access

Internet-Drafts, and other IETF material, are available by mail server from ftp.ietf.org . To retrieve a file, mail a request to mailserv@ftp.ietf.org with a subject of anything you want. In the body, put one or more commands of the form:

FILE /ietf/1wg-summary.txt
FILE /internet-drafts/1id-abstracts.txt
FILE /iesg/iesg.92-11-10
PATH jdoe@somedomain.edu

Where PATH lists the e-mail address where the response should be sent. If you have the mpack utility or a MIME-compliant mail reader, you may want to use the additional command: ENCODING mime

This command results in the information being returned in a MIME message.

Directory Contents

The IETF Directory (ftp.ietf.org/ietf/ )

Below is a list of the files available in the IETF directory and a short synopsis of what each file contains.

Files prefixed with a 0 contain information about meetings.
Files prefixed with a 1 contain general information about the IETF.

Sub-Directories of (ftp.ietf.org/ietf/ )

Working groups have individual directories under /ietf, named by their acronym, for charters and minutes (e.g., the /ietf/snmpv2 directory contains the charter and minutes for the SNMPv2 Working Group).

Area reports and Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session minutes are grouped into directories by meeting. The directory names are of the form yymmm (e.g., the /ietf/92mar directory contains the area summaries and BOF minutes for the March 1992 meeting).

The Internet-Drafts Directory ( ftp.ietf.org/internet-drafts/ )

The Internet-Drafts directory contains draft documents that may eventually be submitted to the IESG and/or RFC Editor to be considered for publication as RFCs. Internet-Drafts have no formal status at all, and should be considered fluid documents that may change or be deleted at any time. They are indexed in the file 1id-abstracts.txt in the Internet-Drafts directory. Comments on the documents should be addressed to the author whose e-mail address is listed in the document.

  • 1id-abstracts.txt : This file lists the current Internet-Drafts, their titles, pathnames, authors, dates of publication, and abstracts.
  • 1id-index.txt : This file contains an abbreviated listing of Internet-Drafts (the document title, filename, and posting date).

For more information on writing and submitting an Internet-Draft, see the "Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts" document ( 1id-guidelines.txt in the /ietf directory).

The IESG Directory (ftp.ietf.org/iesg/)

The IESG directory contains the minutes of IESG meetings. The minutes of IESG meetings are contained in files named with the pattern iesg.yy-mm-dd (e.g., the /iesg/iesg.92-11-10 file contains the minutes of the IESG meeting held on 10 November 1992).


For each IETF meeting, a set of proceedings is published that contains area reports, charters of active working groups, minutes from working group and BOF sessions, and material from plenary presentations. The proceedings are published in CD-ROM and on-line formats. The CD-ROM version is available for a price of US$25. Hard copy versions of the proceedings are no longer printed, however volumes between the 29th - 55th IETF are available to attendees for a price of US$120.

On-line proceedings are available to everyone via:

  • World Wide Web (see above)
  • Anonymous FTP from ftp.ietf.org

Mailing Lists

Much of the daily work of the IETF is conducted on electronic mailing lists. There are discussion mailing lists for each of the working groups, as well as an IETF general discussion list, an IETF announcement list, and an Internet-Draft (I-D) announcement list.

Discussion Lists

Working Group Discussion Lists

Each IETF working group maintains a general discussion mailing list where most of its work is conducted. Mail on the working group mailing lists is expected to be technically relevant to the working groups supported by those lists.

Information on how to subscribe to an IETF working group mailing list, as well as the location of the mailing list archives, can be found on the Web page for that working group. Access to the Web pages for all active IETF working groups is available on the Active IETF Working Groups Web page (http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/wg-dir.html).

The archives for many working groups are housed at the IETF Secretariat. In those cases where the archives are housed elsewhere, the Secretariat attempts to maintain duplicate sets of text archives, with the messages for each working group stored in a separate subdirectory. The IETF Secretariat text archives are located at ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive/.

Several IETF Working Groups maintain http-based mailing list archives both at ietf.org and at other sites. Please visit WG-WEB-Mail.html for a list of these.

IETF Discussion List (ietf@ietf.org)

The IETF discussion list serves two purposes. It furthers the development and specification of Internet technology through discussion of technical issues, and it hosts discussions of IETF direction, policy, and procedures. As this is the most general IETF mailing list, considerable latitude is allowed with respect to topics discussed. Advertising, whether to solicit business or to promote employment opportunities, falls well outside the range of acceptable topics, as do discussions of a personal nature.

The IETF discussion list is meant for initial discussion only. Discussions that fall within the area of any working group list (or other well established list) should be moved to that more specific list as soon as this is pointed out, unless the issue is one for which the working group needs wider input or direction.

In addition to the topics noted above, appropriate postings include:

  • Last Call discussions of proposed protocol actions
  • Discussion of technical issues that are candidates for IETF work, but do not yet have an appropriate e-mail venue
  • Discussion of IETF administrative policies
  • Questions and clarifications concerning IETF meetings

Email archives for the IETF discussion list are accessible via the Web at:

The text archives for the mailing list are located at the following URL:

  • ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive/ietf

To join the IETF general discussion list, send a request to: ietf-request@ietf.org and enter the word subscribe in the Subject line of the message and in the message body.

To unsubscribe from the list, send a request as described above but containing unsubscribe in the Subject line and message body.

Please do not attempt to subscribe or unsubscribe by sending mail directly to the list. Doing so will not result in the desired action but will irritate thousands of list subscribers.

Inappropriate Postings to Discussion Lists

Inappropriate postings to discussion lists include:

  • Unsolicited bulk e-mail
  • Discussion of subjects unrelated to IETF policy, meetings, activities, or technical concerns
  • Unprofessional commentary, regardless of the general subject

The IETF Chair, the IETF Executive Director, or a sergeant-at-arms appointed by the Chair is empowered to restrict posting by a person or of a thread as they deem appropriate to limit abuse. Complaints regarding their decisions should be referred to the IAB.

NOTE: The IETF discussion list is performing spam control according to the guidelines given in the IESG guidelines on spam control.

A list of active spam prevention policies can be found here.

If you have problems posting to the list, contact the IETF Mail Administrator.

Announcement Lists

The IETF maintains two announcement lists: I-D Announce (i-d-announce@ietf.org) and IETF Announce (ietf-announce@ietf.org).

The I-D Announce list receives "I-D Action" announcements only.

The IETF Announce list receives announcements about IETF meetings, the activities and actions of the IESG, the RFC Editor, and the NomCom, and other announcements of interest to the IETF community.

HTML archives for the I-D Announce and IETF Announce lists are accessible via the Web at:

The HTML archive for messages sent to the IETF Announce list prior to April 1, 2004 are accessible via the Web at:

The text archives for the mailing lists are located at the following URLs:

  • ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive/i-d-announce
  • ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive/ietf-announce
  • ftp://ftp.ietf.org/ietf-mail-archive/ietf-announce-old

To subscribe or unsubscribe to I-D-Announce and IETF-Announce via the Web, visit the following links:

To subscribe by email, send a request to one or both of the following addresses:

  • i-d-announce-request@ietf.org
  • ietf-announce-request@ietf.org

  • and enter the word subscribe in the Subject line of the message and in the message body.

    To unsubscribe from either list, please send a request as described above but containing unsubscribe in the Subject line and message body.

    Please do not attempt to subscribe or unsubscribe by sending mail directly to the lists. Doing so will not result in the desired action but will irritate thousands of list subscribers.

    General inquiries about the IETF should be sent to ietf-info@ietf.org.