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IESG response and questions to the normative reference experiment (draf

Subject: IESG response and questions to the normative reference experiment draft-klensin-norm-ref-01.txt
From: Brian Carpenter
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2006 05:35:27 -0400
[Discussion invited on ietf@xxxxxxxx]

The IESG received a request under RFC 3933 to run
draft-klensin-norm-ref-01.txt as an experiment in loosening the IETF's
requirements for normative references in RFCs.

The experiment is composed of two parts.  The first part allows
approved Internet Drafts to reference RFCs at a lower level of
maturity, provided that a note explaining the reference is added.  One
way of looking at this is that it relaxes the requirements for
normative downreferences in RFC 3967.  The IESG believes that there is
sufficient support for this part of the experiment that simply writing
a BCP is a better approach than running an experiment.

The second part of the experiment proposes that RFCs be allowed to
contain normative down references to approved Internet Drafts that
have not yet been published as RFCs.

According to RFC 3933, the IESG must make a determination of whether
an experiment is plausibly useful before it is approved.
   "The IESG
   can institute whatever procedures it wishes to make this determination
   and to avoid denial of service attacks from large numbers of spurious
   or unimportant proposals.  In particular, they might institute a
   procedure requiring a number of endorsements, or endorsements of a
   particular type, before the IESG considers the proposal.  The IESG is,
   however, expected to understand that procedures or review processes
   that act as a mechanism for significant delays do not fall within the
   intent of this specification."

The IESG is new to RFC 3933 experiments and like the rest of the
community is still trying to figure out how to evaluate these
experiments.  In this instance, the IESG issued a last call and the
discussion focused around the question of whether it would be a good
idea if the IETF tried this experiment.  The consensus was by no means
clear-cut.  The IESG believes it is likely that after more
definition, we could eventually get to an experiment for which there
is community consensus.

However the question of "plausibly useful" includes aspects that were
not adequately considered during the last call.  In particular, while
discussing how to move forward, the IESG realized it had never
actually considered who would use the second part of the experiment.
When queried, no area director indicated a specific desire to use the
experiment to reference an approved Internet Draft from an RFC.

The IESG believes the second part of this experiment is unlikely to be
useful unless there are IESG members that find it sufficiently
compelling to invest time in trying to use the experiment.

In the future, it may be desirable to ask for specific intentions of IESG
members for experiments that would only be successful with the active
participation of some IESG members.  The question is: are there IESG
members who have a specific need for the proposed experiment and are
going to use this proposal in real life?  This should not be used to block
efforts for change with very strong community support.  However it is
appropriate to use such endorsements to focus our efforts especially
when consensus is mixed or when there are a lot of efforts on the
table.  The IESG realizes that it needs to be responsive to the
community.  The IESG also trusts that we all realize that change where
there is active, eager support will be more successful than change with
inadequate support.

So, in conclusion, the IESG seeks comments on whether there is
community interest in turning the first part of this experiment into a
BCP.  The IESG also seeks comments from interested document editors
and working group chairs pointing to instances where the second part
of the experiment would be useful.  In particular, please let the IESG
know about upcoming work where being able to reference approved
Internet Drafts from RFCs would be useful; please explain how it would
be useful.  Unless the IESG finds significant cases where the second
part of this experiment will be useful, the IESG plans to decline to
run that part of the experiment.

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