Effective Terminology in IETF Documents

Document Proposed charter Effective Terminology in IETF Documents WG (term)
Title Effective Terminology in IETF Documents
Last updated 2021-04-12
State External Review (Message to Community, Selected by Secretariat) Initial chartering
WG State Proposed
IESG Responsible AD Lars Eggert
Charter Edit AD Lars Eggert
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The mission of the IETF as specified in BCP 95 is to produce high quality,
relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and
manage the Internet. Contributions to the IETF, including Internet-Drafts and
RFCs, are most understandable and effective when they use terminology that is
clear, precise, and widely accessible to readers from varying backgrounds and
cultures. This maximizes the benefits the IETF derives from its central
principles, such as its open process and volunteer core.

In the years leading up to the chartering of this working group, there has been
discussion in the IETF, in other standards organizations, and in the broader
technology industry about the use of certain terms of art in technical writing
and whether those and other terms have an exclusionary effect. While opinions
vary among IETF participants about this topic, there is widespread agreement
that the IETF community would benefit from advice about using effective
terminology that would improve clarity and approachability.

The TERM working group is therefore chartered to produce an Informational RFC
containing guidance to IETF participants on the use of effective terminology
that also minimizes exclusionary effects. The RFC will express general
principles for assessing when language is effective. The principles should match
the expectations from a broad set of IETF participants. The WG will identify and
recommend an external, independently updated resource containing examples of
potentially problematic terms and potential alternatives to IETF participants
for their consideration, to align its efforts with broader activities by the
technology industry.

The TERM working group is a focused group aiming to produce a single
deliverable. It is designed to complement other efforts at fostering inclusivity
in the IETF and will liaise with appropriate external groups, such as other SDOs
or industry initiatives, to coordinate.

The output of this WG will provide guidance to IETF participants and will not
restrict the type or content of contributions that can be made to the IETF
standards process. The output of this WG may inform a potential future activity
by the RFC Editor to establish terminology guidance for the overall RFC series,
but does not constrain any such future action.

Proposed milestones

Proposed milestones

Date Milestone
1 Dec 2021 Submit informational terminology recommendations to IESG
1 Jun 2021 Adopt draft providing informational terminology recommendations