Network Working Group                                   IETF Secretariat
Request for Comments: 1718                                          CNRI
Obsoletes: 1539, 1391                                          G. Malkin
FYI: 17                                                   Xylogics, Inc.
Category: Informational                                    November 1994

                            The Tao of IETF
    A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is


   Over the last two years, the attendance at Internet Engineering Task
   Force (IETF) plenary meetings has grown phenomenally.  Approximately
   one third of the attendees are new to the IETF at each meeting, and
   many of those go on to become regular attendees.  When the meetings
   were smaller, it wasn't very difficult for a newcomer to get into the
   swing of things.  Today, however, a newcomer meets many more new
   people, some previously known only as the authors of documents or
   thought provoking e-mail messages.

   The purpose of this For Your Information (FYI) RFC is to explain to
   the newcomers how the IETF works.  This will give them a warm, fuzzy
   feeling and enable them to make the meeting more productive for
   everyone.  This FYI will also provide the mundane bits of information
   which everyone who attends an IETF meeting should know.

On-line Availability

   Due to the nature of this document, it can become outdated quite
   quickly.  To overcome this problem, a WorldWide Web version has been
   created that is constantly maintained (the URL is listed below).  If
   you have a WWW client (such as Mosaic), it is suggested that you view
   the on-line version in lieu of this document.  This document will be
   republished as an FYI RFC every year to year-and-a-half to help those
   who do not have access to the WorldWide Web.

   URL for this document: <>.
   URL for IETF: <>.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

Table of Contents

   Section 1 - The "Fun" Stuff
      What is the IETF? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
      Humble Beginnings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
      The Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
      IETF Mailing Lists  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
      Registration  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
      Newcomers' Orientation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
      Dress Code  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
      Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
      Terminal Room . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
      Social Event  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
      Agenda  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
      Other General Things  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9

   Section 2 - The "You've got to know it" Stuff
      Registration Bullets  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
      Mailing Lists and Archives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
      Important E-mail Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
      IETF Proceedings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
      InterNIC Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
      Be Prepared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
      RFCs and Internet-Drafts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
      Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)  . . . . . . . 17
      Pointers to Useful Documents and Files  . . . . . . . . . . . 18

   Section 3 - The "Reference" Stuff
      Tao . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
      IETF Area Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
      Acronyms  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
      Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
      References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
      Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
      Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

What is the IETF?

   The Internet Engineering Task Force is a loosely self-organized group
   of people who make technical and other contributions to the
   engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies.  It
   is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet
   standard specifications.  Its mission includes:

   o  Identifying, and proposing solutions to, pressing operational and
      technical problems in the Internet;

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   o  Specifying the development or usage of protocols and the near-term
      architecture to solve such technical problems for the Internet;

   o  Making recommendations to the Internet Engineering Steering Group
      (IESG) regarding the standardization of protocols and protocol
      usage in the Internet;

   o  Facilitating technology transfer from the Internet Research Task
      Force (IRTF) to the wider Internet community; and

   o  Providing a forum for the exchange of information within the
      Internet community between vendors, users, researchers, agency
      contractors and network managers.

   The IETF meeting is not a conference, although there are technical
   presentations.  The IETF is not a traditional standards organization,
   although many specifications are produced that become standards.  The
   IETF is made up of volunteers who meet three times a year to fulfill
   the IETF mission.

   There is no membership in the IETF.  Anyone may register for and
   attend any meeting.  The closest thing there is to being an IETF
   member is being on the IETF or working group mailing lists (see the
   IETF Mailing Lists section).  This is where the best information
   about current IETF activities and focus can be found.

Humble Beginnings

   The 1st IETF meeting was held in January, 1986 at Linkabit in San
   Diego with 15 attendees.  The 4th IETF, held at SRI in Menlo Park in
   October, 1986, was the first at which non-government vendors
   attended.  The concept of working groups was introduced at the 5th
   IETF meeting at the NASA Ames Research Center in California in
   February, 1987.  The 7th IETF, held at MITRE in McLean, Virginia in
   July, 1987, was the first meeting with over 100 attendees.

   The 14th IETF meeting was held at Stanford University in July, 1989.
   It marked a major change in the structure of the IETF universe.  The
   IAB (then Internet Activities Board, now Internet Architecture
   Board), which until that time oversaw many "task forces," changed its
   structure to leave only two: the IETF and the IRTF.  The IRTF is
   tasked to consider the long-term research problems in the Internet.
   The IETF also changed at that time.

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   After the Internet Society (ISOC) was formed in January, 1992, the
   IAB proposed to ISOC that the IAB's activities should take place
   under the auspices of the Internet Society.  During INET92 in Kobe,
   Japan, the ISOC Trustees approved a new charter for the IAB to
   reflect the proposed relationship.

   The IETF met in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in July, 1993. This was
   the the first IETF meeting held in Europe, and the US/non-US attendee
   split was nearly 50/50.  A second European meeting is scheduled for
   July 1995 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Hierarchy

   To completely understand the structure of the IETF, it is useful to
   understand the overall structure in which the IETF resides.  There
   are four groups in the structure: the ISOC and its Board of Trustees,
   the IAB, the IESG and the IETF itself.

   The Internet Society is a professional society that is concerned with
   the growth and evolution of the worldwide Internet, with the way in
   which the Internet is and can be used, and with the social,
   political, and technical issues which arise as a result.  The ISOC
   Trustees are responsible for approving appointments to the IAB from
   among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominating committee.

   The IAB is a technical advisory group of the ISOC.  It is chartered
   to provide oversight of the architecture of the Internet and its
   protocols, and to serve, in the context of the Internet standards
   process, as a body to which the decisions of the IESG may be
   appealed.  The IAB is responsible for approving appointments to the
   IESG from among the nominees submitted by the IETF nominations

   The IESG is responsible for technical management of IETF activities
   and the Internet standards process.  As part of the ISOC, it
   administers the process according to the rules and procedures which
   have been ratified by the ISOC Trustees.  The IESG is directly
   responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement
   along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of
   specifications as Internet Standards.

   The IETF is divided into eight functional areas.  They are:
   Applications, Internet, Network Management, Operational Requirements,
   Routing, Security, Transport and User Services.  Each area has one or
   two area directors.  The area directors, along with the IETF/IESG
   Chair, form the IESG.  Paul Mockepetris is the current IETF/IESG

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   Each area has several working groups.  A working group is a group of
   people who work under a charter to achieve a certain goal.  That goal
   may be the creation of an Informational document, the creation of a
   protocol specification, or the resolution of problems in the
   Internet.  Most working groups have a finite lifetime.  That is, once
   a working group has achieved its goal, it disbands.  As in the IETF,
   there is no official membership for a working group.  Unofficially, a
   working group member is somebody who is on that working group's
   mailing list; however, anyone may attend a working group meeting (see
   the Be Prepared section below).

   Areas may also have Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions.  They
   generally have the same goals as working groups, except that they
   have no charter and usually only meet once or twice.  BOFs are often
   held to determine if there is enough interest to form a working

IETF Mailing Lists

   Anyone who plans to attend an IETF meeting should join the IETF
   announcement mailing list.  This is where all of the meeting
   information, Internet-Draft and RFC announcements, and IESG Protocol
   Actions and Last Calls are posted.  People who would like to "get
   technical" may also join the IETF discussion list,
   "".  This is where discussions of cosmic
   significance are held (most working groups have their own mailing
   lists for discussions related to their work).  To join the IETF
   announcement list, send a request to:

   To join the IETF discussion list, send a request to:

   To join both of the lists, simply send a single message, to either
   "-request" address, and indicate that you'd like to join both lists.

   Do not, ever, under any circumstances, for any reason, send a request
   to join a list to the list itself!  The thousands of people on the
   list don't need, or want, to know when a new person joins.
   Similarly, when changing e-mail addresses or leaving a list, send
   your request only to the "-request" address, not to the main list.
   This means you!!

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   The IETF discussion list is unmoderated.  This means that anyone can
   express their opinions about issues affecting the Internet.  However,
   it is not a place for companies or individuals to solicit or
   advertise.  Only the Secretariat can send messages to the
   announcement list.

   Even though the IETF mailing lists "represent" the IETF membership at
   large, it is important to note that attending an IETF meeting does
   not automatically include addition to either mailing list.


   As previously mentioned, all meeting announcements are sent to the
   IETF announcement list.  Within the IETF meeting announcement is a
   registration form and complete instructions for registering,
   including, of course, the cost.  The Secretariat highly recommends
   that attendees preregister.  Early registration, which ends about one
   month before the meeting, carries a lower registration fee.  As the
   size of the meetings has grown, so has the length of the lines at the
   registration desk.  There are two lines: "paid" (which moves very
   quickly), and "not paid" (which moves slowly).

   Registration is open all week.  However, the Secretariat highly
   recommends that attendees arrive for early registration, beginning at
   18:00 (meeting local time), on the Sunday before the opening plenary.
   Not only will there be fewer people, but there will also be a
   reception at which people can get a bite to eat.  If the registration
   lines are long, one can eat first and try again when the lines are

   Registered attendees (and there isn't any other kind) receive a
   registration packet.  It contains a general orientation sheet, the
   at-a-glance sheet, a list of working group acronyms, the most recent
   agenda and a name tag.  The at-a-glance is a very important reference
   and is used throughout the week.  It contains working group and BOF
   room assignments and a map of room locations.  Attendees who prepaid
   will also find their receipt in their packet.

Newcomers' Orientation

   Newcomers are encouraged to attend the IETF Newcomers' Orientation.
   As the name implies, it is an orientation for first-time attendees to
   IETF meetings.  The orientation is organized and conducted by the
   IETF Secretariat and is intended to provide useful introductory
   information.  The IETF Secretariat is made up of Cynthia Clark, Steve
   Coya, Debra Legare, John Stewart and Megan Walnut.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   The orientation is typically about an hour long and covers a number
   of topics: what's in the attendee packets, what all the dots on name
   tags mean and how to read the at-a-glance.  There is also discussion
   about the structure of the IETF and the Internet standards process.
   There is ample time at the end for questions.  The Secretariat also
   provides handouts which include an overview of the IETF, a list of
   important files available on-line and hard copies of the slides of
   the "structure and standards" presentation.

   The orientation is held on Sunday afternoon before the registration
   reception.  However, attending the orientation does NOT mean you can
   go to the reception early!

Dress Code

   Since attendees must wear their name tags, they must also wear shirts
   or blouses.  Pants or skirts are also highly recommended.  Seriously
   though, many newcomers are often embarrassed when they show up Monday
   morning in suits, to discover that everybody else is wearing t-
   shirts, jeans (shorts, if weather permits) and sandals.  There are
   those in the IETF who refuse to wear anything other than suits.
   Fortunately, they are well known (for other reasons) so they are
   forgiven this particular idiosyncrasy.  The general rule is "dress
   for the weather" (unless you plan to work so hard that you won't go
   outside, in which case, "dress for comfort" is the rule!).

Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes

   Some of the people at the IETF will have a little colored dot on
   their name tag.  A few people have more than one.  These dots
   identify people who are silly enough to volunteer to do a lot of
   extra work.  The colors have the following meanings:

      blue   - working group/BOF chair
      green  - local Host
      red    - IAB member
      yellow - IESG member

   Local hosts are the people who can answer questions about the
   terminal room, restaurants and points of interest in the area.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   Some people have gold stars on their name tags.  The stars indicate
   that those people chaired working groups or BOFs in the IETF area
   which submitted all of its working group/BOF minutes and area report
   from the previous meeting first.  The stars are the Secretariat's way
   of saying "thank you" for providing the necessary information

   It is important that newcomers to the IETF not be afraid to strike up
   conversations with people who wear these dots.  If the IAB and IESG
   members and working group and BOF chairs didn't want to talk to
   anybody, they wouldn't be wearing the dots in the first place.

   In addition, members of the Secretariat wear blue tinted name badges
   so they can be spotted at a distance.

   To make life simpler for the Secretariat, registration packets are
   also coded with little colored dots.  These are only for Secretariat
   use, so nobody else needs to worry about them.  Please, don't peel
   them off your packet and put them on your name tag.

Terminal Room

   One of the most important (depending on your point of view) things
   the local host does is provide Internet access to the meeting
   attendees.  In general, the connectivity is excellent.  This is
   entirely due to the Olympian efforts of the local hosts, and their
   ability to beg, borrow and steal.  The people and companies who
   donate their equipment, services and time are to be heartily
   congratulated and thanked.

   While preparation far in advance of the meeting is encouraged, there
   may be some unavoidable "last minute" things which can be
   accomplished in the terminal room.  It may also be useful to people
   who need to make trip reports or status reports while things are
   still fresh in their minds.

Social Event

   Another of the most important things organized and managed by the
   local hosts is the IETF social event.  The social event has become
   something of a tradition at the IETF meetings.  It has been
   immortalized by Marshal T. Rose with his reference to "many fine
   lunches and dinners" [ROSE], and by Claudio and Julia Topolcic with
   their rendition of "Nerds in Paradise" on a pink T-shirt.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   Sometimes, the social event is a computer or high-tech related event.
   At the Boston IETF, for example, the social was dinner at the
   Computer Museum.  Other times, the social might be a dinner cruise or
   a trip to an art gallery.

   Newcomers to the IETF are encouraged to attend the social event.
   Everyone is encouraged to wear their name tags.  The social event is
   designed to give people a chance to meet on a social, rather than
   technical, level.


   The agenda for the IETF meetings is a very fluid thing.  It is sent,
   in various forms, to the IETF announcement list three times prior to
   the meeting.  The final agenda is included in the registration
   packets.  Of course, "final" in the IETF doesn't mean the same thing
   as it does elsewhere in the world.  The final agenda is simply the
   version that went to the printers.

   The Secretariat will announce agenda changes during the morning
   plenary sessions.  Changes will also be posted on the bulletin board
   near the IETF registration desk (not the hotel registration desk).

   Assignments for breakout rooms (where the working groups and BOFs
   meet) and a map showing the room locations make up the at-a-glance
   sheet (included in the registration packets).  Room assignments are
   as flexible as the agenda.  Some working groups meet multiple times
   during a meeting and every attempt is made to have a working group
   meet in the same room each session.  Room assignment changes are not
   necessarily permanent for the week.  Always check the at-a-glance
   first, then the bulletin board.  When in doubt, check with a member
   of the Secretariat at the registration desk.

Other General Things

   The opening plenary on Monday morning is the most heavily attended
   session.  It is where important introductory remarks are made, so
   people are encouraged to attend.

   The IETF Secretariat, and IETFers in general, are very approachable.
   Never be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself.  Also,
   don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when it comes to jargon
   and acronyms!

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   Hallway conversations are very important.  A lot of very good work
   gets done by people who talk together between meetings and over
   lunches and dinners.  Every minute of the IETF can be considered work
   time (much to some people's dismay).

   A "bar BOF" is an unofficial get-together, usually in the late
   evening, during which a lot of work gets done over drinks.

   It's unwise to get between a hungry IETFer (and there isn't any other
   kind) and coffee break brownies and cookies, no matter how
   interesting a hallway conversation is.

   IETFers are fiercely independent.  It's safe to question opinions and
   offer alternatives, but don't expect an IETFer to follow orders.

   The IETF, and the plenary sessions in particular, are not places for
   vendors to try to sell their wares.  People can certainly answer
   questions about their company and its products, but bear in mind that
   the IETF is not a trade show.  This does not preclude people from
   recouping costs for IETF related t-shirts, buttons and pocket

   There is always a "materials distribution table" near the
   registration desk.  This desk is used to make appropriate information
   available to the attendees (e.g., copies of something discussed in a
   working group session, description of on-line IETF-related
   information, etc.).  Please check with the Secretariat before placing
   materials on the desk; the Secretariat has the right to remove
   material that they feel is not appropriate.

Registration Bullets

   Registration is such an important topic that it's in this RFC twice!
   This is the "very important registration bullets" section.

   o  To attend an IETF meeting you have to register and you have to pay
      the registration fee.

   o  All you need to do to be registered is to send in a completed
      registration form.

   o  You may register by mail, e-mail or fax.  Generally, e-mail and
      fax registration forms will be accepted until 13:00 US/Eastern on
      the Thursday before the meeting.

   o  You may preregister and pay, preregister and pay later,
      preregister and pay on-site, or register and pay on-site.

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   o  To get the lower registration fee, you must register by the early
      registration deadline (about one month before the meeting).  You
      can still pay later or on-site.

   o  If you don't register by the early registration deadline, a late
      fee is added.

   o  Everyone pays the same fees.  There are no educational or group
      discounts.  There are no discounts for attending only part of the

   o  Register only ONE person per registration form.  Substitutions are
      NOT allowed.

   o  You may register then pay later, but you may not pay then register
      later.  Payment MUST be accompanied by a completed registration

   o  Purchase orders are NOT accepted.  DD Form 1556 is accepted.
      Invoice for payment cannot be accepted.

   o  Refunds are subject to a US$20 service charge.  Late fees will not
      be refunded.

   o  The registration fee covers Sunday evening reception (cash bar), a
      daily continental breakfast and daily coffee breaks.

Mailing Lists and Archives

   As previously mentioned, the IETF announcement and discussion mailing
   lists are the central mailing lists for IETF activities.  However,
   there are many other mailing lists related to IETF work.  For
   example, every working group has its own discussion list.  In
   addition, there are some long-term technical debates which have been
   moved off of the IETF list onto lists created specifically for those
   topics.  It is highly recommended that everybody follow the
   discussions on the mailing lists of the working groups which they
   wish to attend.  The more work that is done on the mailing lists, the
   less work that will need to be done at the meeting, leaving time for
   cross pollination (i.e., attending working groups outside one's
   primary area of interest in order to broaden one's perspective).

   The mailing lists also provide a forum for those who wish to follow,
   or contribute to, the working groups' efforts, but cannot attend the
   IETF meetings.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   All IETF discussion lists have a "-request" address which handles the
   administrative details of joining and leaving the list.  It is
   generally frowned upon when such administrivia appears on the
   discussion mailing list.

   Most IETF discussion lists are archived.  That is, all of the
   messages sent to the list are automatically stored on a host for
   anonymous FTP access.  To find out where a particular list is
   archived, send a message to the list's "-request" address, NOT to the
   list itself.

Important E-mail Addresses

   There are some important IETF e-mail addresses with which everyone
   should be familiar.  They are all located at ""
   (e.g., "").  To personalize things, the
   names of the Secretariat staff who currently respond to the messages
   are given for each address.

   o ietf-info         general queries about the IETF - Cynthia Clark,
                       Debra Legare, John Stewart, and Megan Walnut

   o ietf-rsvp         queries about meeting locations and fees,
                       e-mailed registration forms - Debra Legare

   o proceedings       queries about ordering hard copies of previous
                       proceedings, and general questions about on-line
                       proceedings - Debra Legare and John Stewart

   o ietf-request      requests to join/leave IETF lists - Cynthia Clark

   o internet-drafts   Internet-Draft submissions and queries - Cynthia
                       Clark and John Stewart

   o iesg-secretary    John Stewart

   o ietf-secretariat  Steve Coya

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

IETF Proceedings

   The IETF proceedings are compiled in the two months following each
   IETF meeting.  The proceedings usually start with a message from
   Steve Coya, the Executive Director of the IETF.  Each contains the
   final (hindsight) agenda, an IETF overview, a report from the IESG,
   area and working group reports, network status briefings, slides from
   the protocol and technical presentations and the attendees list.  The
   attendees list includes names, affiliations, work and fax phone
   numbers and e-mail addresses as provided on the registration form.

   Folks who register and pay to attend the IETF are eligible to receive
   a hard copy of the proceedings. They must indicate so on the line
   provided on the registration form.  The proceedings are sent to the
   mailing addresses provided on the registration forms.  Please notify
   the Secretariat immediately if your address information changes after
   the meeting ends so you can be assured of receiving your copy.

   For those who could not attend a meeting but would like a copy of the
   proceedings, send a check for US$35 (made payable to CNRI) to:

      Corporation for National Research Initiatives
      Attn: Accounting Department - IETF Proceedings
      1895 Preston White Drive, Suite 100
      Reston, VA   22091

   Please indicate which meeting proceedings you would like to receive
   by specifying the meeting date (e.g., July 1993) or meeting number
   and location (e.g., 27th meeting in Amsterdam).  Availability of
   previous meetings' proceedings is limited, so ask BEFORE sending

   The proceedings are also available on-line via:

   o Gopher: <>
   o WorldWide Web: <>
   o Anonymous FTP: <> in /ietf-online-

   People are encouraged to use the on-line version of the proceedings
   to save paper and money, as well as to have the Internet community
   use its own technology.

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RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

InterNIC Archives

   There is a tremendous amount of material available for those who
   follow the work of the IETF.  To make it easier to know what to read
   to prepare for a meeting, the InterNIC has established a document
   archive.  Beginning about one month prior to an IETF meeting, working
   group/BOF chairs and area directors put documents relevant to the
   discussions to be held into the archives.  Those people who plan to
   attend a working group/BOF session should check the archives for
   documents which need to be read.  The documents are left in the
   archives for about two months after the end of the IETF meeting.

   On the host "", documents are stored in the directory
   "/pub/current-ietf-docs" under subdirectories named for each area and
   then for each working group.  For example, a document for the NISI
   Working Group, which is in the User Services Area, would be stored as
   "current-ietf-docs/usv/nisi/nisi-doc1.txt".  Each area will also have
   a subdirectory called "bof", where documents to be discussed in BOF
   sessions will be placed.  A directory called "plenary" will also be
   created under "/pub/current-ietf-docs" to put documents or viewgraphs
   related to a plenary session.  Any filename conflicts will be
   resolved by the archive administrator working with the submitter of
   the document via e-mail.

   It is important to note that the service is provided by the InterNIC
   and that the documents are submitted by the people who work on them.
   The IETF Secretariat does not manage or monitor the archive service.

   Access via anonymous FTP:

      Anonymous FTP to
      Change directory to /pub/current-ietf-docs
      Browse and get the document of interest

   Access via Gopher (from a Gopher client):

      Point to
      Select the "InterNIC Directory and Database Services ..." item
      Then menu item named "Internet Documentation (RFCs FYIs, etc.)/"
      Lastly menu item named "Current IETF Conference Documents (...)/"

   If you do not have a Gopher client, use the InterNIC's public-access
   Gopher client.  Simply telnet to "" and login as
   "gopher" (no password required).

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 14]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

Be Prepared

   This topic cannot be stressed enough.  As the IETF grows, it becomes
   more and more important for attendees to arrive prepared for the
   working group meetings they plan to attend.  This doesn't apply only
   to newcomers--everybody should come prepared.

   Being prepared means having read the documents which the working
   group or BOF chair has distributed.  It means having followed the
   discussions on the working group's mailing list or having reviewed
   the archives.  For the working group/BOF chairs, it means getting all
   of the documents out early (i.e., several weeks) to give everybody
   time to read them and announcing an agenda and sticking to it.

   At the chair's discretion, some time may be devoted to bringing new
   working group attendees up to speed.  In fact, long lived working
   groups have occasionally held entire sessions which were introductory
   in nature.  As a rule, however, a working group is not the place to
   go for training.  Observers are always welcome, but they must realize
   that the work effort cannot be delayed for education.  Anyone wishing
   to attend a working group for the first time might seek out the chair
   prior to the meeting and ask for some introduction.

   Another thing for everybody to consider is that working groups go
   through phases.  In the initial phase (say, the first two meetings),
   all ideas are welcome.  The idea is to gather all the possible
   solutions together for consideration.  In the development phase, a
   solution is chosen and developed.  Trying to reopen issues which were
   decided more than a couple of meetings back is considered bad form.
   The final phase (the last two meetings) is where the "spit and
   polish" are applied to the architected solution.  This is not the
   time to suggest architectural changes or open design issues already
   resolved.  It's a bad idea to wait until the last minute to speak out
   if a problem is discovered.  This is especially true for people whose
   excuse is that they hadn't read the documents until the day before a
   comments period ended.

   Time at the IETF meetings is a precious thing.  Working groups are
   encouraged to meet between IETF meetings, either in person or by
   video or telephone conference.  Doing as much work as possible over
   the mailing lists would also reduce the amount of work which must be
   done at the meeting.

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 15]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

RFCs and Internet-Drafts

   Originally, RFCs were just what the name implies:  requests for
   comments.  The early RFCs were messages between the ARPANET
   architects about how to resolve certain problems.  Over the years,
   RFCs became more formal.  It reached the point that they were being
   cited as standards, even when they weren't.

   To help clear up some confusion, there are now two special sub-series
   within the RFCs: FYIs and STDs.  The For Your Information RFC sub-
   series was created to document overviews and topics which are
   introductory.  Frequently, FYIs are created by groups within the IETF
   User Services Area.  The STD RFC sub-series was created to identify
   those RFCs which do in fact specify Internet standards.

   Every RFC, including FYIs and STDs, have an RFC number by which they
   are indexed and by which they can be retrieved.  FYIs and STDs have
   FYI numbers and STD numbers, respectively, in addition to RFC
   numbers.  This makes it easier for a new Internet user, for example,
   to find all of the helpful, informational documents by looking for
   the FYIs amongst all the RFCs.  If an FYI or STD is revised, its RFC
   number will change, but its FYI or STD number will remain constant
   for ease of reference.

   There is also an RTR subseries of RFCs for Reseaux Associes pour la
   Recherche Europeenne (RARE) Technical Reports.  These are technical
   reports developed in the RARE community that are published as RFCs to
   provide easy access to the general Internet community.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the IETF.  Any group or
   individual may submit a document for distribution as an Internet-
   Draft.  These documents are valid for six months, and may be updated,
   replaced or obsoleted at any time.  Guidelines require that an
   expiration date appear on every page of an Internet-Draft.  It is not
   appropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite
   them, other than as "working drafts" or "works in progress."

   For additional information, read the following documents:

   o  Request for Comments on Request for Comments [RFC 1111]
   o  F.Y.I. on F.Y.I: Introduction to the F.Y.I notes [FYI1]
   o  Introduction to the STD Notes [RFC 1311]
   o  Guidelines to Authors of Internet-Drafts [GAID]
   o  The Internet Activities Board [RFC 1160]
   o  The Internet Standards Process [RFC 1602]
   o  Internet Official Protocol Standards [STD1]

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 16]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

Frequently Asked Questions (and Their Answers)

   Q: My working group moved this morning.  Where is it now?
   A: Check the at-a-glance sheet and the message board for

   Q: Where is room 'foo'?
   A: Check the map on the at-a-glance sheet.  An enlarged version is on
      the bulletin board.

   Q: Where can I get a copy of the proceedings?
   A: If you have registered and paid to attend an IETF meeting simply
      indicate you wish to receive a hardcopy of the proceedings and it
      will be mailed to you.  For on-line retrieval refer to "IETF
      Proceedings" section which appears on page thirteen of this RFC.
      Both the hardcopy and on-line version of the proceedings are
      generally available two months after the meeting.

   Q: When is on-site registration?
   A: On-site registration is first possible from 18:00 to 20:00 on the
      Sunday night before the meeting starts. The IETF registration desk
      will be set up in the same room in which the reception is held.
      On-site registration on Monday begins at 8:00, Tuesday through
      Friday at 8:30, and is open until 18:00 every day but Friday.

   Q: Where is lunch served?
   A: The meeting does not include lunch or dinner.  Ask a local host
      (somebody with a green dotted badge) for a recommendation.

   Q: Where are the receipts for the social event?
   A: The social is not managed by the IETF Secretariat.  Ask a local

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 17]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

Pointers to Useful Documents and Files

   This is a list of documents and files that provide useful information
   about the IETF meetings, working groups and documentation.  These
   files reside in the "ietf" directory on the anonymous FTP sites
   listed below.  File names beginning with "0" (zero) pertain to IETF
   meetings; these may refer to a recently held meeting if the first
   announcement of the next meeting has not yet been sent to the IETF
   mailing list.  File names beginning with "1" (one) contain general
   IETF information.  This is only a partial list of the available
   files.  (The 'yymm' below refers to the year and month.)

   o  0mtg-agenda.txt                Agenda for the meeting
   o  0mtg-at-a-glance-yymm.txt      Logistics information for the meeting
   o  0mtg-rsvp.txt                  Meeting registration form
   o  0mtg-sites.txt                 Future meeting sites and dates
   o  0mtg-multicast-guide-yymm.txt  Schedule for MBone-multicast sessions
   o  0mtg-traveldirections-yymm.txt Directions to the meeting site
   o  0tao.txt                       This document

   o  1directories.txt               IETF shadow directory locations and
   o  1id-guidelines.txt             Guidelines to authors of Internet-
   o  1ietf-description.txt          Short description of the IETF and
                                     IESG, including a list of area
   o  1nonwg-discuss.txt             A list of mailing lists relevant to
                                     the IETF, but not associated with
                                     working groups
   o  1proceedings-request.txt       A proceedings order form
   o  1wg-summary.txt                List of all working groups, by
                                     area, including the chair(s) and
                                     mailing list
   o  1wg-summary-by-acronym.txt     Same as above, but sorted by
   o  1wg-charter.txt                Abbreviated versions of all current
                                     working group charters
   o  1wg-charters-by-acronym.txt    Same as above, but sorted by

   Additionally, the full charters and minutes of the working groups and
   BOFs are archived under the "ietf" directory (see 1directories.txt
   for a complete explanation).

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 18]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   All of these documents are available by anonymous FTP from the
   following primary sites (there may be closer shadow sites, so check
   with your network administrator):

   o  Europe: (
   o  Pacific Rim: (
   o  US/East Coast: (
   o  US/West Coast: (

   These files are also available through the Internet Gopher on host
   "" and the WorldWide Web server at URL

   Residing on the same archive sites are the RFCs and Internet-Drafts.
   They are in the "rfc" and "internet-drafts" directories,
   respectively.  The file "1rfc_index.txt" contains the latest
   information about the RFCs (e.g., which have been obsoleted by
   which).  In general, only the newest version of an Internet-Draft is

   All of the files, RFCs and Internet-Drafts are also available via e-
   mail from various mail servers.  To to get the IETF agenda,
   Internet-Draft abstracts and RFC 1150 from the mail server at the
   InterNIC, for example, you would send the following message:

      To:             Message header
      Subject: anything you want

      FILE /ietf/0mtg-agenda.txt               Body of the message
      FILE /internet-drafts/1id-abstracts.txt
      FILE /rfc/rfc1150.txt

   Where FILE specifies the name of a file to be returned and PATH is an
   optional command that specifies the e-mail address to which the
   file(s) should be sent.  The file(s) can be returned in one or more
   MIME messages by adding the command "ENCODING mime" to the top of the

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 19]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   RFCs may also be retrieved via e-mail from ISI's RFC-Info server at
   "".  To get a specific RFC, include the following in
   the body of the message:

      Retrieve: RFC
      Doc-ID: RFC0951

   This example would cause a copy of RFC 951 (the leading zero in the
   Doc-ID is required) to be e-mailed to the requestor.  To get a list
   of available RFCs which match certain criteria, include the following
   in the body of the message:

      LIST: RFC
      Keywords: gateway

   This example would e-mail a list of all RFCs with "gateway" in the
   title or as an assigned keyword.  To get information on other ways to
   get RFCs:

      HELP: ways_to_get_rfcs


   Pronounced "dow", Tao means "the way."  It is the basic principle
   behind the teachings of Lao-tse, a Chinese master. Its familiar
   symbol is the black and white Yin-Yang circle.

IETF Area Abbreviations

   APP      Applications
   INT      Internet Services
   IPNG     IP: Next Generation
   MGT      Network Management
   OPS      Operational Requirements
   RTG      Routing
   SEC      Security
   TSV      Transport
   USV      User Services

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 20]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994


   :-)      Smiley face
   ANSI     American National Standards Institute
   ARPA     Advanced Research Projects Agency
   ARPANET  Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
   AS       Autonomous System
   ATM      Asynchronous Transfer Mode
   BGP      Border Gateway Protocol
   BOF      Birds Of a Feather
   BSD      Berkeley Software Distribution
   BTW      By The Way
   CCIRN    Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks
   CCITT    International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee
   CIDR     Classless Inter-Domain Routing
   CIX      Commercial Information Exchange
   CNI      Coalition for Networked Information
   CREN     The Corporation for Research and Educational Networking
   DARPA    US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (now ARPA)
   DDN      US Defense Data Network
   DISA     US Defense Information Systems Agency
   EGP      Exterior Gateway Protocol
   FAQ      Frequently Asked Question
   FARNET   Federation of American Research NETworks
   FIX      US Federal Information Exchange
   FNC      US Federal Networking Council
   FQDN     Fully Qualified Domain Name
   FYI      For Your Information (RFC)
   GOSIP    US Government OSI Profile
   IAB      Internet Architecture Board
   IANA     Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
   I-D      Internet-Draft
   IEN      Internet Experiment Note
   IESG     Internet Engineering Steering Group
   IETF     Internet Engineering Task Force
   IGP      Interior Gateway Protocol
   IMHO     In My Humble Opinion
   IMR      Internet Monthly Report
   InterNIC Internet Network Information Center
   IPng     IP: Next Generation
   IR       Internet Registry
   IRSG     Internet Research Steering Group
   IRTF     Internet Research Task Force
   ISO      International Organization for Standardization
   ISOC     Internet Society
   ISODE    ISO Development Environment
   ITU      International Telecommunication Union
   MIB      Management Information Base

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 21]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   MIME     Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
   NIC      Network Information Center
   NIS      Network Information Services
   NIST     National Institute of Standards and Technology
   NOC      Network Operations Center
   NREN     National Research and Education Network
   NSF      National Science Foundation
   OSI      Open Systems Interconnection
   PEM      Privacy Enhanced Mail
   PTT      Postal, Telegraph and Telephone
   RARE     Reseaux Associes pour la Recherche Europeenne
   RFC      Request For Comments
   RIPE     Reseaux IP Europeenne
   SIG      Special Interest Group
   STD      Standard (RFC)
   TLA      Three Letter Acronym
   TTFN     Ta-Ta For Now
   UTC      Universal Time Coordinated
   WG       Working Group
   WRT      With Respect To
   WYSIWYG  What You See is What You Get


   The IETF Secretariat would like to acknowledge the time and efforts
   of Gary Malkin who prepared the first version of this document (RFC
   1391), and coordinated all the changes in the first revision (RFC
   1539).  Without his help, this document might still be "in progress."


   FYI1    Malkin, G., and J. Reynolds, "F.Y.I. on F.Y.I.", FYI 1, RFC
           1150, Proteon, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March

   GAID    "Guidelines to Authors of Internet Drafts",

   ROSE    Rose, M., "The Open Book: A Practical Perspective on OSI",
           Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1989.

   RFC1543 Postel, J., "Request for Comments on Request for Comments",
           RFC 1543, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1989.

   RFC1160 Cerf, V., "The Internet Activities Board", RFC 1160, NRI, May

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 22]

RFC 1718                    The Tao of IETF                November 1994

   RFC1602 Chapin, L., Chair, "The Internet Standards Process", RFC
           1602, Internet Activities Board, March 1992.

   RFC1311 Postel, J., Editor, "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC
           1311, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March 1992.

   STD1    Postel, J., Editor, "Internet Official Protocol Standards",
           STD 1, RFC 1720, Internet Architecture Board, November 1994.

Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Authors' Addresses

   The IETF Secretariat
   c/o Corporation for National Research Initiatives
   1895 Preston White Drive
   Suite 100
   Reston, VA  22091

   Phone:  +1 703 620 8990
   Fax:    +1 703 620 0913

   Gary Scott Malkin
   Xylogics, Inc.
   53 Third Avenue
   Burlington, MA  01803

   Phone:  +1 617 272 8140
   EMail:  gmalkin@Xylogics.COM

Internet Engineering Task Force                                [Page 23]