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Report from the IAB Workshop on Analyzing IETF Data (AID), 2021

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 9307.
Authors Niels ten Oever , Corinne Cath , Mirja Kühlewind , Colin Perkins
Last updated 2022-02-22
RFC stream Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
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Consensus boilerplate Unknown
IAB shepherd (None)
Network Working Group                                       N. ten Oever
Internet-Draft                                   University of Amsterdam
Intended status: Informational                                   C. Cath
Expires: 25 August 2022                                                 
                                                            M. Kühlewind
                                                           C. S. Perkins
                                                   University of Glasgow
                                                        21 February 2022

    Report from the IAB Workshop on Analyzing IETF Data (AID), 2021


   The 'Show me the numbers: Workshop on Analyzing IETF Data (AID)' was
   convened by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) from November 29 to
   December 2 and hosted by the project at the University of
   Amsterdam, however, converted to an online only event.  The workshop
   was conducted based on two discussion parts and a hackathon activity
   in between.  This report summarizes the workshop's discussion and
   identifies topics that warrant future work and consideration.

   Note that this document is a report on the proceedings of the
   workshop.  The views and positions documented in this report are
   those of the workshop participants and do not necessarily reflect IAB
   views and positions.

Discussion Venues

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Workshop Scope and Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  Tools, data, and methods  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  Observations on affiliation and industry control  . . . .   4
     2.3.  Community and diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.4.  Publications, process, and decision-making  . . . . . . .   6
     2.5.  Environmental Sustainability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   3.  Hackathon Report  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   4.  Position Papers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     4.1.  Tools, data, and methods  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     4.2.  Observations on affiliation and industry control  . . . .   8
     4.3.  Community and diversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.4.  Publications, process, and decision-making  . . . . . . .   9
     4.5.  Environmental Sustainability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   5.  Workshop participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   6.  Program Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   7.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   8.  Annexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     8.1.  Annex 1 - Data Taxonomy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12

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1.  Introduction

   The IETF, as an international Standards Developing Organization
   (SDO), hosts a diverse set of data including on the organization's
   history, development, and current standardization activities,
   including of Internet protocols and its institutions.  A large
   portion of this data is publicly available, yet it is underutilized
   as a tool to inform the work in the IETF proper or the broader
   research community focused on topics like Internet governance and
   trends in ICT standard-setting.

   The aim of the IAB Workshop on Analyzing IETF Data (AID) 2021 was to
   study how IETF data is currently used, understand what insights can
   be drawn from that data, and to explore open questions around how
   that data may be further used in future.

   These questions can inform a research agenda drawing from IETF data,
   that fosters further collaborative work among interested parties,
   ranging from academia and civil society to industry and IETF

2.  Workshop Scope and Discussion

   The workshop was organized with two all-group discussion slots at the
   beginning and the end of the workshop.  In between the workshop
   participants organized hacakthon activities, based on topics
   identifed during the initial discussion and submitted position
   papers.  The follow topic areas have been identified and discussed.

2.1.  Tools, data, and methods

   The IETF holds a wide range of data sources.  The main ones used are
   the mailinglist archives, RFCs, and the datatracker.  The latter
   provides information on participants, authors, meeting proceedings,
   minutes and more.  Furthermore there are statistics for the IETF
   websites, working group Github repositories, IETF survey data and
   there was discussion about the utility of download statistics for the
   RFCs itself from different repos.

   There are a wide range of tools to analyze this data, produced by
   IETF participants or researchers interestested in the work of the
   IETF.  Two projects that presented their work at the workshop were
   BigBang ( and
   Sodestream's IETFdata (
   library; the RFC Prolog Database was described in a submitted paper
   (see Section Section 4 below).  These projects could be used to add
   additional insights to the existing IETF statistics
   ( page and the datatracker

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   statistics (, e.g., related to
   gender questions, however, privacy issues andd implication of making
   such data publicly available were discussed as well.

   The datatracker itself is a community tool that welcomes
   contributions, e.g. for additions to the existing interfaces or the
   statistics page directly (see
   datatracker-database-overview (
   datatracker-database-overview).  Instructions how to set up aa local
   development environment can be found, at the time of the workshop, at
   (  Questions or any
   discussion can be issued to

2.2.  Observations on affiliation and industry control

   A large portion of the submitted position papers indicated interest
   in researching questions about industry control in the
   standardization process (vs. individual contributions in personal
   capacity), where industry control covers both, technical contribution
   and the ability to successfully standardize these contribution as
   well as competition on leadership roles.  To assess these question it
   has ben discussed to investigate participant's affiliations including
   "indirect" affiliation e.g. by funding and changes in affiliation as
   well as the nessecarity to model company characteristics or
   stakeholder groups.

   Discussions about the analysis of IETF data shows that affiliation
   dynamics are hard to capture, due to the specifics of how the data is
   entered but also because of larger social dynamics.  On the side of
   IETF data capture, affiliation is an open text field, which causes
   people to write their affiliation down in different ways
   (capitilization, space, word seperation, etc).  A common data format
   could contribute to analyses that compare SDO performance and
   behavior of actors inside and across standards bodies.  To help this
   a draft data model has been developed during hackathon portion of the
   workshop which can found under [Annex A].

   Furthermore, there is the issue of mergers and acquisitions and
   subsidiary companies.  There is no authorotative exogenous source of
   variation for affiliation changes, so hand-collected and curated data
   is used to analyze changes in affiliation over time.  While this
   approach is imperfect, conclusions can be drawn from the data.  For
   example, in the case of mergers or acquisition where a small
   organizations joins a large organization, this results in a
   statistically significant increase in liklihood of an individual
   being put in a working group chair position BaronKanevskaia

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2.3.  Community and diversity

   High interest from the workshop participants was also on using
   existing data to better understand who the current IETF community is,
   especially in terms of diversity, and how to potentially increase
   diversity and thereby inclusivity, e.g. understanding if are there
   certain groups or lists that "drive people away" and why.
   Inclusivity and transparency about the standardization process are
   generally important to keep the Internet and its development process
   viable.  As commented during the workshop discussion, when measuring
   and evaluating different angles of diversity it is also important to
   understand the actual goals that are intended when increasing
   diversity, e.g. in order to increase competence (mainly technical
   diversity from different companies and stakeholder groups) or
   relevance (also regional diversity and international footprint).

   The discussion on community and diversity spanned from methods that
   draw from novel text mining, time series clustering, graph mining and
   psycholinguistic approaches to understand the consensus mechanism to
   more speculative approaches about what it would take to build a
   feminist Internet.  The discussion also covered the data needed to
   measure who is in the community and how diverse it is.

   The discussion highlighted that part of the challenge is defining
   what diversity means, how to measure it, or as one participant
   highlighted to define "who the average IETF is".  The question was
   also raised what to do about missing data or non-participating or
   underrepresented communities, like women, individuals from the
   African continent and network operators.  In terms of how IETF data
   is structured, various researchers mentioned that it is hard track
   conversations as mail threads, split, merge and change.  The ICANN-
   at-large model came up as an example of how to involve relevant
   stakeholders in the IETF that are currently not present.  Vice versa,
   it is also interesting for outside communities (especially policy
   makers) to get a sense of who the IETF community is and keep them

   The human element of the community and diversity was stressed, in
   order to understand the IETF community's diversity it is important to
   talk to people (beyond text analysis) and in order to ensure
   inclusivity individual participants must make an effort to, as one
   participant recounted, tell them their participation is valuable.

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2.4.  Publications, process, and decision-making

   A number of submissions focussed on the RFC publication process, on
   the development of standards and other RFCs in the IETF, and on how
   the IETF make decisions.  This included work on both technical
   decisions about the content of the standards, but also procedural and
   process decisions, and questions around how we can understand, model,
   and perhaps improve the standards process.  Some of the work
   considered what makes a successful RFC, how are RFCs used and
   referenced, and about what can we learn by studying the RFCs, drafts,
   and email discussion.

   There were three sets of questions to consider in this area.  The
   first related to success and failure of standards, and considered
   what makes a successful/good RFC?  What makes the process of RFC
   making successful?  And how are RFCs used and referenced once
   published?  Discussion considered how to better understand the path
   from an internet draft to an RFC, to see if there are specific
   factors lead to successful development of a draft into an RFC.
   Participants explored the extent to which this depends on the
   seniority and experience of the authors, on the topic and IETF area,
   extent and scope of mailing list discussion, and other factors, to
   understand whether success of a draft can be predicted, and whether
   interventions can be developed to increase the likelihood of success
   for work.

   The second question was around decision making.  How does the IETF
   make design decisions?  What are the bottlenecks in effective
   decision making?  When is a decision made?  And what is the decision?
   Difficulties here lie in capturing decisions and the results of
   consensus calls early in the process, and understanding the factors
   that lead to effective decision making.

   Finally, there were questions around what can be learn about
   protocols by studying IETF publications, processes, and decision
   making?  For example, are there insights to be gained around how
   security concerns are discussed and considered in the development of
   standards?  Is it possible to verify correctness of protocols and/or
   detect ambiguities?  Extract implementations?

   Answers to these questions come from analysis of IETF emails, RFCs
   and Internet-Drafts, meeting minutes, recordings, Github data, and
   external data such as surveys, etc.

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2.5.  Environmental Sustainability

   The final discussion session considered environmental sustainability.
   It discussed what is the IETF's role with respect to climate change
   both in terms on what is the environmental impact of the way the IETF
   develops standards, and in terms of what is the environmental impact
   of the standards the IETF develops?

   Discussion started by considering how sustainable are IETF meetings,
   focussing on how much CO2 emissions are IETF meetings responsible for
   and how can we make the IETF more sustainable.  Analysis looked at
   the home locations of participants, meeting locations, and carbon
   footprint of air travel and remote attendance, to estimate the carbon
   costs of an IETF meeting.  Initial results suggest that the costs of
   holding multiple in-person IETF meetings per year are likely
   unsustainable, although the analysis is ongoing.

   Discussion also considered to what extent are climate impacts
   considered in the development and standardization of Internet
   protocols?  It reviewed the text of RFCs and active working group
   drafts, looking for relevant keywords to highlight the extent to
   which climate change, energy efficiency, and related topics are
   considered in the design of Internet protocols, to show the limited
   extent to which these topics have been considered.  Ongoing work is
   considering meeting minutes and mail archives, to get a fuller
   picture, but initial results show only limited consideration of these
   important issues.

3.  Hackathon Report

   The middle two days of the workshop were organized as a hackathon.
   The aims of the hackathon were to 1) acquaint people with the
   different data sources and analysis methods, 2) seek to answer some
   of the questions that came up during presentations on the first day
   of the workshop, 3) foster collaboration among researchers to grow a
   community of IETF data researchers.

   At the end of Day 1, the plenary presentation day, people were
   invited to divide themselves in groups who selected their own
   respective facilitators.  All groups had their own work space and
   could use their own communication methods and channels, or use IETF's  Furthermore, daily check-ins were organized during the
   two hackathon days.  At the final day the hackathon groups presented
   their work in a plenary session.

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   The objectives of the hackathon, according to the co-chairs, have
   been met, and the output significantly exceeded expectations.  It
   allowed for more interaction then academic conferences and produced
   some actual research results by people who had not collaborated
   before the workshop.

   Future workshops that choose to integrate a hackathon could consider
   to ask participants to submit groups, issues, and questions
   beforehand (potentially as part of the positions paper or the sign-up
   process) to facilitate the formation of groups.

4.  Position Papers

4.1.  Tools, data, and methods

   Sebastian Benthall Using Complex Systems Analysis to Identify
   Organizational Interventions (

   Stephen McQuistin, Colin Perkins The ietfdata Library

   Marc Petit-Huguenin The RFC Prolog Database (

   Jari Arkko Observations about IETF process measurements

4.2.  Observations on affiliation and industry control

   Justus Baron, Olia Kanevskaia Competition for Leadership Positions in
   Standards Development Organizations (

   Nick Doty Analyzing IETF Data: Changing affiliations

   Don Le Position Paper (

   Elizaveta Yachmeneva Research Proposal (

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4.3.  Community and diversity

   Priyanka Sinha, Michael Ackermann, Pabitra Mitra, Arvind Singh, Amit
   Kumar Agrawal Characterizing the IETF through its consensus
   mechanisms (

   Mallory Knodel Would feminists have built a better internet?

   Wes Hardaker, Genevieve Bartlett Identifying temporal trends in IETF
   participation (

   Lars Eggert Who is the Average IETF Participant?

   Emanuele Tarantino, Justus Baron, Bernhard Ganglmair, Nicola Persico,
   Timothy Simcoe Representation is Not Sufficient for Selecting Gender
   Diversity (

4.4.  Publications, process, and decision-making

   Michael Welzl, Carsten Griwodz, Safiqul Islam Understanding Internet
   Protocol Design Decisions (

   Ignacio Castro et al Characterising the IETF through the lens of RFC
   deployment (

   Carsten Griwodz, Safiqul Islam, Michael Welzl The Impact of
   Continuity (

   Paul Hoffman RFCs Change (

   Xue Li, Sara Magliacane, Paul Groth The Challenges of Cross-Document
   Coreference Resolution in Email (

   Amelia Andersdotter Project in time series analysis: e-mailing lists

   Mark McFadden Position Paper (

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4.5.  Environmental Sustainability

   Christoph Becker Towards Environmental Sustainability with the IETF

   Daniel Migault CO2eq: Estimating Meetings' Air Flight CO2 Equivalent
   Emissions: An Illustrative Example with IETF meetings

5.  Workshop participants

   Bernhard Ganglmair, Carsten Griwodz, Christoph Becker, Colin Perkins,
   Corinne Cath, Daniel Migault, Don Le, Effy Xue Li, Elizaveta
   Yachmeneva, Francois Ortolan, Greg Wood, Ignacio Castro, Jari Arkko,
   Justus Baron, Karen O'Donoghue, Lars Eggert, Mallory Knodel, Marc
   Petit-Huguenin, Mark McFadden, Michael Welzl, Mirja Kuehlewind, Nick
   Doty, Niels ten Oever, Priyanka Sinha, Safiqul Islam, Sebastian
   Benthall, Stephen McQuistin, Wes Hardaker, and Zhenbin Li.

6.  Program Committee

   The workshop Program Committee members were Niels ten Oever (chair,
   University of Amsterdam), Colin Perkins (chair, IRTF, University of
   Glasgow), Corinne Cath (chair, Oxford Internet Institute), Mirja
   Kuehlewind (IAB, Ericsson), Zhenbin Li (IAB, Huawei), and Wes
   Hardaker (IAB, USC/ISI).

7.  Acknowledgments

   The Program Committee wishes to extend its thanks to Cindy Morgan for
   logistics support and to Kate Pundyk for notetaking.

   This workshop was made possible through funding from the Dutch
   Research Council (NWO) through grant MVI.19.032 as part of the
   programme 'Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Innoveren (MVI)'.

   We would like to thank the Ford Foundation for their support that
   made participation of Corinne Cath, Kate Pundyk, and Mallory Knodel
   possible (grant number, 136179, 2020).

   This work is supported in part by the UK Engineering and Physical
   Sciences Research Council under grant EP/S036075/1.

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8.  Annexes

8.1.  Annex 1 - Data Taxonomy

   A Draft Data Taxonomy for SDO Data:

   Organization: Organization Subsidiary Time Email domain Website
   domain Size Revenue, annual Number of employees Org - Affiliation
   Category (Labels) ; 1 : N Association Advertising Company Chipmaker
   Content Distribution Network Content Providers Consulting Cloud
   Provider Cybersecurity Financial Institution Hardware vendor Internet
   Registry Infrastructure Company Networking Equipment Vendor Network
   Service Provider Regional Standards Body Regulatory Body Research and
   Development Institution Software Provider Testing and Certification
   Telecommunications Provider Satellite Operator

   Org - Stakeholder Group : 1 - 1 Academia Civil Society Private Sector
   -- including industry consortia and associations; state-owned and
   government-funded businesses Government Technical Community (IETF,
   ICANN, ETSI, 3GPP, oneM2M, etc) Intergovernmental organization

   SDO: Membership Types (SDO) Members (Organizations for some,
   individuals for others...) Membership organization Regional SDO ARIB

   Country of Origin: Country Code

   Number of Participants

   Patents Organization Authors - 1 : N - Persons/Participants Time
   Region Patent Pool Standard Essential Patent If so, for which

   Participant (An individual person) Name 1: N - Emails Time start /
   time end

   1 : N : Affiliation Organization Position Time start / end

   1 : N : Affiliation - SDO Position SDO Time

   Email Domain (personal domain)

   (Contribution data is in other tables)

   Document Status of Document Internet Draft Work Item Standard Author
   - Name Affiliation - Organization Person/Participant (Affiliation
   from Authors only?)

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   Data Source - Provenance for any data imported from an external data

   Meeting Time Place Agenda Registrations Name Email Affiliation

Authors' Addresses

   Niels ten Oever
   University of Amsterdam

   Corinne Cath

   Mirja Kühlewind

   Colin Perkins
   University of Glasgow

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