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Using GitHub at the IETF

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 8874.
Author Martin Thomson
Last updated 2019-04-12
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state WG Document
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IESG IESG state I-D Exists
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Network                                                       M. Thomson
Internet-Draft                                                   Mozilla
Intended status: Best Current Practice                    March 30, 2019
Expires: October 1, 2019

                        Using GitHub at the IETF


   This document describes best practices for working groups that use
   GitHub for their work.

Note to Readers

   Discussion of this document takes place on the GitHub@ietf mailing
   list (, which is archived 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

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 1, 2019.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect

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   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Distributed Version Control Systems . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.2.  GitHub  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.3.  Other Services  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.4.  Document Goals  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.5.  Notational Conventions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   2.  Administrative Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.1.  Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Backup and Archive Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     2.3.  Communicating Policies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.3.1.  Contribution Policies on Repositories . . . . . . . .   6
   3.  Deciding to Use GitHub  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.1.  What to Use GitHub For  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.2.  Working Group Policies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     3.3.  Repositories  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.4.  Editors and Contributors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.5.  Document Formats  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  Contribution Methods  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     4.1.  Issues  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       4.1.1.  Issue Labelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       4.1.2.  Closing Issues  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     4.2.  Pull Requests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       4.2.1.  Discussion on Pull Requests . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       4.2.2.  Merging Pull Requests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     4.3.  Monitoring Activity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   5.  Internet-Draft Publication  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   6.  Assessing Consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   7.  Continuous Integration  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   8.  Advice to Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   9.  GitHub Limitations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   10. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   11. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   12. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     12.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     12.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     12.3.  URIs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   Appendix A.  Experiences from Working Groups  . . . . . . . . . .  16
     A.1.  CORE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
     A.2.  QUIC  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   Appendix B.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

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1.  Introduction

   The IETF has an open and transparent process for developing
   standards.  The use of GitHub or similar tools, when used as part of
   this process, can have several objectives.  GitHub provides tools
   that can be helpful in editing documents.  Use of this service has
   proven to reduce the time that working groups need to produce
   documents and to improve the quality of the final result.

   The use of source control improves traceability and visibility of
   changes.  Issue tracking can be used to manage open issues and
   provide a record of their resolution.  Pull requests allow for better
   engagement on technical and edditorial changes, and encourage
   contributions from a larger set of contributors.  Using GitHub can
   also broaden the community of contributors for a specification.

   This document describes how the IETF uses GitHub through the
   development of Internet-Drafts.  This concentrates on the work that
   occurs within IETF working groups.  Recommendations for working
   groups and their chairs are made for integrating these tools with
   their processes.

   This document is meant as an enhancement to RFC 2418 [RFC2418].  It
   provides guidance to working group chairs and participants on how
   they can best use GitHub.  The small number of rules in this document
   are there to ensure common usage patterns between working groups and
   to avoid issues that have been encountered in the past.

   A companion document, [GH-CONFIG], describes administrative processes
   that supports the practices described in this document.

1.1.  Distributed Version Control Systems

   Different version control systems are a critical component of
   software engineering and are quite useful also for document editing.

   Git is a distributed version control system .  Each instance of a
   repository contains a number of revisions.  Each revision stores the
   complete state of a set of files.  Users are able to create new
   revisions in their copy of a repository and share revisions between
   copies of repositories.

1.2.  GitHub

   GitHub is a service operated at [2].  GitHub
   provides a centralized store for git repositories.  GitHub is freely
   accessible on the open Internet (see Section 9), albeit currently
   only via IPv4.

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   GitHub provides a simplified and integrated interface to not only
   git, but also provides basic user management, an issue tracker,
   associated wiki, project hosting, and other features.

   There are a large number of projects at GitHub and a very large
   community of contributors.  One way in which some IETF Working Groups
   have seen benefit is in the increased reviews and associated issues
   and improvements that come from broader participation by facilitating
   those in this community to participate.

1.3.  Other Services

   Git is not the only version control system available, nor is GitHub
   the only possible choice for hosting.  There are other services that
   host revision control repositories and provide similar additional
   features to GitHub.  For instance, BitBucket [3], or GitLab [4]
   provide a similar feature set.  In additional to a hosted service,
   software for custom installations exists.

   This document concentrates primarily on GitHub as it has a large and
   active community of contributors.  As a result, some content might
   not be applicable to other similar services.  A working group that
   decides to adopt an alternative tool or service can still benefit
   from the general guidance in this document.

1.4.  Document Goals

   This document aims to describe how a working group might best apply
   GitHub to their work.  The intent is to allow each working group
   considerable flexibility in how they use GitHub.

   This document does require that policies for use of GitHub are agreed
   and clearly communicated within the working group (see Section 2).
   The remainder of the document contains guidelines and advice on how
   to construct a workable policy.

   The requirements here apply to the case where working groups decide
   to use GitHub as a primary means of interaction.  Individuals can set
   their own policies when using GitHub for managing their own drafts,
   or for managing drafts that they edit on behalf of a working group
   that has not explicitly adopted GitHub.

   For both sets of users, this document aims to provide some amount of
   advice on practices that have proven to be effective.

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1.5.  Notational Conventions

   The words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "SHOULD", and "MAY" are used in this
   document.  It's not shouting; when they are capitalized, they have
   the special meaning defined in [RFC2119].

2.  Administrative Policies

   The following administrative rules provide the necessary oversight
   and transparency.

2.1.  Organizations

   Organizations are a way of forming groups of contributors on GitHub.
   Each Working Group SHOULD create a new organization for the working

   A working group organization SHOULD be named consistently so that it
   can be found.  For instance, the name could be ietf-<wgname> or ietf-

   A single organization SHOULD NOT be used for all IETF activity, or
   all activity within an area.  Large organizations create too much
   overhead for general management tasks, particularly when there is a
   need to maintain membership.

   Each organization requires owners.  The owner team for a working
   group repository MUST include responsible Area Directors.  Area
   Directors MAY also designate a delegate that becomes an owner and
   working group chairs MAY also be owners.

   A team with administrator access SHOULD be created for the Working
   Group Chairs and any Working Group Secretary.  Administrator access
   is preferable, since this does not also include the ability to push
   to all repositories and ownership does not grant any other
   significant privileges.

   When Area Directors or Working Group Chairs change, teams MUST be
   updated to reflect the new membership status.

   When a Working Group is closed, the responsible Area Director is
   responsible for removing existing members from teams in the
   organization.  Repositories MUST be updated along to indicate that
   they are no longer under development.

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2.2.  Backup and Archive Requirements

   When an IETF Working Group is closed or when associated mailing lists
   are closed, mail archives and datatracker information from that work
   is backed up and accessible.  The same applies to GitHub

   Any repositories including issues and discussion SHOULD be backed up
   on IETF resources.  It is desirable for those to be accessible via
   the Working Group's datatracker page.  For example, this might be via
   URLs listed in the More Info section on the Working Group Charter

   The IETF MAY decide to backup information associated with a Working
   Group's organization periodically.  This decision can be made
   differently per Working Group in consultation with the responsible
   Area Director.

2.3.  Communicating Policies

   Each Working Group MAY set its own policy as to whether and how it
   uses GitHub.  It is important that occasional participants in the WG
   and others accustomed to IETF tools be able to determine this and
   easily find the policy and GitHub organization.

   A simple example of how to do this is to include a link to the GitHub
   organization on the WG Charter page in the datatracker under More
   Info.  Similarly, if there are multiple mailing list options, links
   to those mailing lists should be given.  An example of this is at

2.3.1.  Contribution Policies on Repositories

   One important policy is the IETF IPR policy (see [RFC5378],
   [RFC3979], and [RFC4879]).  Part of this policy requires making
   contributors aware of the policy.

   The IETF Trust license file for open source repositories [5] MUST be
   included prominently in any document repository.

   Including this information in the CONTRIBUTING file is sufficient.

   In addition to the boilerplate text there can be a benefit to
   including pointers to other working group materials, the IETF
   datatracker, specific drafts, or websites.  Adding such text is at
   the discretion of the Working Group Chairs.

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3.  Deciding to Use GitHub

   A Working Group Chairs are responsible for determining how to best
   accomplish the Charter in an open and transparent fashion.  The
   Working Group Chairs are responsible for determining if there is
   interest in using GitHub and making a consensus call to determine if
   a the proposed policy and use is acceptable.

   Chairs SHOULD involve Area Directors any decision to use GitHub for
   anything more than managing of drafts.

   While a document editor can still use GitHub independently for
   documents that they edit, even if the working group does not
   expressly choose to use GitHub, any such public repository MUST
   follow the guidelines in Section 2.3.1.  This recognizes that editors
   have traditionally chosen their own methods for managing the
   documents they edit but preserves the need for transparent
   contributions with awareness of IPR considerations.

3.1.  What to Use GitHub For

   Working Group Chairs have to decide what GitHub features the working
   group will rely upon.  Section 4 contains a more thorough discussion
   on the different features that can be used.

   Once a document is published in a repository on GitHub, many features
   like pull requests, issue tracking or the wiki can be individually
   disabled.  If specific features are not used by the working group in
   the development of the document, disabling those features avoids
   creating confusion in the wider community about what can be used.

3.2.  Working Group Policies

   Working Group Chairs that decide to use GitHub MUST inform their
   working groups of their decision on the working group mailing list.
   An email detailing how the working group intends to use GitHub is
   sufficient, though it might be helpful to occasionally remind new
   contributors of these guidelines.

   Working Group Chairs are responsible for ensuring that any policy
   they adopt is enforced and maintained.

   Updating the README or CONTRIBUTING file in the repository with
   details of the process ensures that the process is recorded in a
   stable location other than the mailing list archive.  This also makes
   any working group policies available to casual contributors who might
   only interact with the GitHub repository.

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   GitHub prominently links to the CONTRIBUTING on certain pages.  This
   file SHOULD be used in preference to the README for information that
   new contributors need.  A link to the CONTRIBUTING file from the
   README is advised.

3.3.  Repositories

   New repositories can be created within the working group organization
   at the discretion of the chairs.  Chairs could decide to only create
   new repositories for adopted working group items, or they might
   create repositories for individual documents on request.

   All repositories for working group documents MUST be public.
   Repositories for private documents MAY be kept private, but only
   where there is a specific reason for doing so.  For instance, a
   document that details a security vulnerability might be kept private
   prior to its initial publication as an Internet-Draft.  Once an
   Internet-Draft is published, repositories SHOULD be made public.

   The adoption status of any document MUST be clear from the contents
   of the repository.  This can be achieved by having the name of the
   document reflect status (that is, draft-ietf-<wg>-... indicates that
   the document was adopted), or through a prominent notice (such as in
   the README).

   Experience has shown that maintaining separate repositories for
   independent documents is most manageable.  This allows the work in
   that repository to be focused on a single item.

   Closely related documents, such as those that together address a
   single milestone, might be placed in a single repository.  This
   allows editors to more easily manage changes and issues that affect
   multiple documents.

   Maintaining multiple documents in the same repository can add
   overheads that negatively affect individual documents.  For instance,
   issues might require additional markings to identify the document
   that they affect.  Also, because editors all have write access to the
   repository, managing the set of people with write access to a larger
   repository is more difficult.

3.4.  Editors and Contributors

   Working group chairs MUST give document editors write access to
   document repositories.  This can be done by creating teams with write
   access and allocating editors to those teams, or by making editors
   collaborators on the repository.

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   Working group chairs MAY also grant other individuals write access
   for other reasons, such as maintaining supporting code or build
   configurations.  Working group chairs, as administrators or owners of
   the organization might also have write access to repositories.  Users
   other than document editors, including chairs, SHOULD NOT write to
   working group documents unless with prior coordination with document

   Working groups MAY create a team for regular contributors that is
   only given read access to a repository.  This does not confer
   additional privileges on these contributors, it instead allows for
   issues and pull requests to be assigned to those people.  This can be
   used to manage the assignment of editorial or review tasks to
   individuals outside of the editor team.

3.5.  Document Formats

   In addition to the canonical XML format [RFC7991], document editors
   might choose to use a different input form for editing documents,
   such as markdown.  The choice of input format is left to document

4.  Contribution Methods

   Contributions to documents come in many forms.  GitHub provides a
   range of options in addition to email.  Input on GitHub can take the
   form of new issues and pull requests, comments on issues and pull
   requests, and comments on commits.

4.1.  Issues

   The GitHub issue tracker can be an effective way of managing the set
   of open issues on a document.  The record of issues - both open and
   closed - can be a useful way of recording decisions made by a working

   Issues can be given arbitrary labels, assigned to contributors, and
   assembled into milestones.  The issue tracker is integrated into the
   repository; an issue can be closed using a special marker in a commit

   When deciding to use GitHub, Working Group Chairs MUST decide how the
   GitHub issue tracker are used.  Use of the issue tracker could be
   limited to recording the existence of issues, or it might be used as
   the venue for substantial technical discussion between contributors.

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4.1.1.  Issue Labelling

   A system of labeling issues can be effective in managing issues.  For
   instance, marking substantive issues separately from editorial can be
   helpful at guiding discussion.  Using labels can also be helpful in
   identifying issues for which consensus has been achieved, but that
   require editors to integrate the changes into a document.

   Labels can be used to identify particular categories of issues or to
   mark specific issues for discussion at an upcoming session.

   If labels are a core part of working group process, chairs MUST
   communicate any process to the working group.  This includes the
   semantics of labels, and who can apply and remove these labels.

4.1.2.  Closing Issues

   Editors have write access to repositories, which also allows them to
   close issues.  The user that opens an issue is also able to close the
   issue.  Chairs MUST provide guidance on who is permitted to close an
   issue and under what conditions.

4.2.  Pull Requests

   Pull requests are the GitHub feature that allow users to request
   changes to a repository.  A user does not need to have write access
   to a repository to create a pull request.  A user can create a
   "fork", or copy, of any public repository.  The user has write access
   to their own fork, allowing them to make local changes.  A pull
   request asks the owner of a repository to merge a specific set of
   changes from a fork (or any branch) into their copy.

   Editors SHOULD make pull requests for all substantial changes rather
   than committing directly to the "master" branch of the repository.

   Pull requests have many of the same properties as issues, including
   the ability to host discussion and bear labels.  Critically, using
   pull requests creates a record of actions taken.

   For significant changes, leaving a pull request open until discussion
   of the issue within the working group concludes allows the pull
   request to track the discussion and properly capture the outcome of

   Groups of editors could adopt a practice of having one editor create
   a pull request and another merge it.  This ensures that changes are
   reviewed by editors.  Editors are given discretion in how they manage

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4.2.1.  Discussion on Pull Requests

   In addition to the features that pull requests share with issues,
   users can also review the changes in a pull request.  This is a
   valuable feature, but it has some issues.

   Comments in a review other than a summary are attached to specific
   lines of the proposed change.  Such comments can be hard or
   impossible to find if changes are subsequently made to the pull
   request.  This is problematic for contributors who don't track
   discussion closely.

   For this reason, working group chairs SHOULD discourage the use of
   inline comments for substantial technical discussion of issues.

4.2.2.  Merging Pull Requests

   Working groups MUST determine who is permitted to merge pull
   requests.  Document editors SHOULD be permitted to merge pull
   requests at their discretion.  This requires that editors exercise
   some judgment.  Working group chairs MAY occasionally identify a pull
   request and request that editors withhold merging until working group
   consensus has been assessed.

   Note that the copy of a document that is maintained on GitHub does
   not need to be a perfect reflection of working group consensus at
   every point in time.  Document editors need some flexibility in how
   they manage a document.

4.3.  Monitoring Activity

   Several working groups have created read-only mailing lists that
   subscribe to activity notifications on repositories.  The volume of
   information on these lists can be too high to monitor actively, but
   access to an archive of actions can be useful.

   An alternative is to rely on periodic email summaries of activity,
   such as those produced by a notification tool like github-notify-ml
   [6].  This tool has been used effectively in several working groups,
   though it requires server infrastructure.

   A working group that uses GitHub MAY provide either facility at the
   request of the chairs.

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5.  Internet-Draft Publication

   During the development of a document, individual revisions of a
   document can be built and formally submitted as an Internet-Draft.
   This creates a stable snapshot and makes the content of the in-
   progress document available to a wider audience.

   Editors SHOULD create a new Internet-Draft submission two weeks prior
   to every session (see Section 7.1 of [RFC2418]).  Participants in a
   session can't be expected to monitor changes to documents in real-
   time; an Internet-Draft ensures that there is a common, stable state
   that is known to all participants.

   Working group chairs MAY request the creation of an Internet-Draft at
   any time, in consultation with document editors.

6.  Assessing Consensus

   The work that occurs on GitHub could be part of the consensus
   process, but the ultimate decision on consensus regarding a document
   is made by the chairs [RFC2026].

   Monitoring activity on GitHub can require a greater time commitment
   than following a mailing list.  This is because there is an increased
   volume of activity to follow.  Participants who wish to limit this
   time commitment might follow GitHub activity selectively, either by
   following only specific issues or by occasionally reviewing the state
   of the document.  Chairs are reminded that assessing consensus based
   on GitHub content alone cannot be assumed to reach all interested

   A working group chair MUST consult the working group mailing list for
   any issue that is potentially contentious.  Relying on input provided
   through GitHub alone might result in gaining input from a narrower
   set of participants.  This includes important milestones like Working
   Group Last-Call, where review from the widest possible audience
   ensures a higher quality document.  Managing input from multiple
   sources in assessing consensus is similar to what is needed when
   balancing mailing list discussion versus in-person meeting

   The use of issues and labels has proven to be effective in managing
   contentious issues.  Explicitly labeling closed issues so that those
   with formal consensus means that there is no confusion about the
   status of issues.

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7.  Continuous Integration

   Various third-party services offer the ability to run tests and other
   work when changes are made to a document.

   One common practice is to use these continuous integration services
   to build a text or HTML version of a document.  This is then
   published to GitHub Pages, which allows users to view a version of
   the most recent revision of a document.  Including prominent link to
   this version of the document (such as in the README) makes it easier
   for new contributors to find a readable copy of the most recent
   version of a draft.

   Continuous integration can also validate pull requests and other
   changes for errors.  The most basic check is whether the source file
   can be transformed successful into a valid Internet-Draft.  For
   example, this might include checking that XML source is syntactically

   For documents that use formal languages a part of specifications,
   such as schema or source code, a continuous integration system might
   also be used to validate any formal language that the document
   contains.  Tests for any source code that the document contains might
   be run, or examples might be checked for correctness.

8.  Advice to Editors

   Document editors are primarily responsible for maintaining documents.
   Taking on a few additional tasks can greatly improve the process for
   the working group.

   Using GitHub means that it is more likely that a contribution is made
   by users who aren't very familiar with the work.  If a duplicate
   issue is raised, point the user to the existing issue before closing
   the issue.  If a contributor seems rude in a comment, be courteous in

   Pull requests from new contributors can contain errors or omissions.
   Some contributors won't natively speak English, so changes might have
   grammatical errors.  If a change is generally sound, rather than
   rejecting the pull request or requesting changes, accept the change
   and then make any minor corrections yourself.

   Never close a pull request or issue without first understanding why
   it was made and then explaining why you aren't accepting it.  If you
   are uncertain, ask a chair for guidance.

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   If a contributor makes a comment that raises what you believe to be a
   new issue, create an issue for them.  If the issue has an obvious
   solution, consider creating a pull request.  It doesn't matter what
   venue the issue was raised in, email, issue discussion, a pull
   request review, capturing issues quickly ensures that problems become
   visible and can be tracked.

   This takes a little more effort, but these simple steps can help
   encourage contributions, which will ultimately improve the quality of
   your document.

9.  GitHub Limitations

   At the time of writing, is not reachable using IPv6.  This
   is an affront to all that the IETF stands for and a slap in the face
   to all the people who worked so hard to design and deploy the latest
   version of the Internet Protocol.  While we can collectively be
   ashamed and disappointed that this is the situation, that doesn't
   necessarily make the service any less useful.

10.  Security Considerations

   Continuity of operations is always a consideration when taking a
   dependency on an external service.  If GitHub were to fail in some
   way, anyone relying upon its services would be seriously affected.

   Widespread use of git reduces the exposure to a system failure
   because the primary repository is replicated in multiple locations.
   This includes hosted web pages; the content of web pages is
   maintained as a branch in the main repository.  Maintaining a mirror
   of a repository that is hosted on GitHub is relatively simple and
   might be considered as a way to provide a backup for the primary

   However, other information maintained on GitHub is more vulnerable to
   loss.  This includes issues and discussion on those issues,
   discussion and reviews of commits and pull requests, and any content
   hosted on the wiki.  Tools exist for extracting this information for

   The potential for malicious actions by compromised or malcontent
   editors, chairs and area directors is relevant in maintaining the
   integrity of the content that GitHub hosts.  Backups allow for
   recovery of content, and regular submissions as Internet-Drafts
   ensure that work is not lost completely.

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11.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA actions.

12.  References

12.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2026]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
              3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, DOI 10.17487/RFC2026, October 1996,

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC3979]  Bradner, S., Ed., "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF
              Technology", RFC 3979, DOI 10.17487/RFC3979, March 2005,

   [RFC4879]  Narten, T., "Clarification of the Third Party Disclosure
              Procedure in RFC 3979", RFC 4879, DOI 10.17487/RFC4879,
              April 2007, <>.

   [RFC5378]  Bradner, S., Ed. and J. Contreras, Ed., "Rights
              Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust", BCP 78, RFC 5378,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5378, November 2008,

12.2.  Informative References

              Cooper, A. and P. Hoffman, "GitHub Configuration for IETF
              Working Groups", draft-ietf-git-github-wg-configuration-01
              (work in progress), March 2019.

              Thomson, M., "martinthomson/i-d-template", n.d.,

   [RFC2418]  Bradner, S., "IETF Working Group Guidelines and
              Procedures", BCP 25, RFC 2418, DOI 10.17487/RFC2418,
              September 1998, <>.

   [RFC7991]  Hoffman, P., "The "xml2rfc" Version 3 Vocabulary",
              RFC 7991, DOI 10.17487/RFC7991, December 2016,

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12.3.  URIs


















Appendix A.  Experiences from Working Groups

A.1.  CORE

   The CoRE WG (Constrained RESTful Environments) has been actively
   using the Trac/SVN combination offered by the Tools Team for its
   older drafts.

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   Some newer drafts (including some drafts that are not yet WG drafts
   but could be considered candidates for that) are now being worked on
   in the "core-wg" GitHub organization.

   These drafts generally use Martin Thomson's template [7], except
   where the build process (examples, grammars) is much more complicated
   than can easily be supported by this template.

   For most repos, a CI (continuous integration) process is set up that
   generates a readable editor's copy (in HTML form) as well as a diff
   from the most recent submitted version (tools TXT diff), linked from
   the README; both have turned out to be very valuable.
   (Unfortunately, the travis-based CI process is somewhat brittle, so
   there is an appreciable failure rate.)

   We try to keep discussion on the mailing list (as opposed to getting
   them entirely in the GitHub issues), but may not have been very
   successful in that; it definitely requires constant vigilance.

   The WG Wiki [8] says:

      With respect to the mode of operation of the repository, the CoRE
      WG follows the lead of the HTTPBIS WG [9].  Specifically that
      means that GitHub issues are welcome to record editorial issues as
      well as technical ones; as are "pull requests" (forks of the
      repository with fixes for an issue).  However, technical
      discussion should not happen in the forums implicitly created by
      the issues, but on the WG mailing list.

   We currently do not have an active backup regime.

A.2.  QUIC

   The QUIC WG [10] was chartered in October 2016, and has been using
   GitHub very intensively.

   We created a GitHub organization called "quicwg" [11], which the WG
   chairs administer.  Under than organization, we set up two teams, one
   for WG document editors [12] and one for regular contributors [13].
   Membership in the former team is contingent on being chosen as an
   editor for a WG deliverable.  The latter team is more open, and
   consists of people that the chairs and editors want to assign reviews
   or issues to.  Obviously, anyone can raise issues, comment on them,
   submit pull requests, etc.  The benefit of the "contributors" team
   really lies in allowing the assignment of tasks to individuals, which
   is otherwise not possible.

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   Underneath the "quicwg" organization, we created two repositories,
   one for WG materials [14] and one for our base WG drafts [15].  Only
   the chairs have commit permissions to the WG materials repo, which is
   mostly used to hold presentations and other materials from our
   various meetings.  This repo is configured to not allow issues to be
   raised or have a wiki (we instead store Markdown files inside the

   Our second repo, for "base drafts", is where most of the work occurs.
   The decision to use a common repo for several drafts was deliberate.
   QUIC is a complex protocol with a complex specification, text moves
   between different documents and issues can affect several.
   Maintaining each draft in a separate repo, while "cleaner" on first
   impression, actually complicates this workflow.  When the WG adopts
   additional drafts, we will decide on a case-by-case basis whether
   they will be made part of the "base drafts" or if we create a new
   repo underneath the organization.  Since Martin Thomson is an editor,
   we use his setup template [ID-TEMPLATE] to rapidly publish HTML
   editor copies of the specs.

   The "base drafts" repo is configured to allow issues to be raised,
   and its wiki is enabled (but rarely used.)  Editors (and chairs) have
   commit rights to this repo.

   We use sets of labels to tag issues that are raised.  One set simply
   indicates which draft(s) an issue applies to, or whether it is
   potentially of broad "design" impact, or "editorial" in nature so
   that an editor can use his or her own discretion to resolve it
   without WG consensus.  A second set is used to track the WG consensus
   on each issue (with states that currently include "needs-discussion",
   "confirm-consensus", "notify-consensus" and "editor-ready").  Issues
   progress from "needs-discussion" to either "confirm-consensus" or
   "notify-consensus".  The former is entered when consensus amongst the
   participants in the discussion has emerged, and the WG needs to
   confirm this consensus on the list.  The latter is entered when a
   consensus call happened at a WG meeting, and the mailing list needs
   to confirm this consensus.  (It is not clear if two separate labels
   actually make all that much sense here.)  Once WG consensus has been
   established, an issue is labeled "editor-ready".

   Although the QUIC WG has only been chartered for a few months, we
   have already had ~250 issues raised, many of which have attracted
   dozens of comments.  Good issue topics and actively searching for
   prior issues before opening new ones is essential to manage the

   In order to allow WG participants to follow the activity on GitHub
   without needing to check the GitHub web site, we have set up a

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   separate "quic-issues" [16] mailing list at the IETF.  It was a
   deliberate decision to use a list other than the regular WG mailing
   list.  First, because we are intensively using GitHub, a lot of
   notifications get generated (dozens per day), which would drown out
   other list traffic, Second, the issues list is configured as a read-
   only list, where all incoming email is rejected, except for some
   whitelisted senders.  The intent is to keep all discussion on the
   regular WG mailing list, or on GitHub tickets.  (While GitHub will
   correctly reflect email replies to issue notifications, they seem to
   loose sender information, which is useless.)

   Getting GitHub notifications to go to this list was mildly painful,
   and involved creating a dummy "IETF QUIC WG" GitHub user account
   [17], whose subscription email address is the quic-issues list
   address.  The dummy user was made a member of the QUIC GitHub
   organization, and will therefore by default "track" all repo
   activity.  This will cause GitHub to create the desired stream of
   notification emails to an IETF list.  One caveat here is that GitHub
   uses the email address associated with the user who is interacting
   with the web site as the sender address of notification emails, which
   requires regular whitelisting in mailman.  It also means that these
   users are allowed to otherwise email the issues list; we trust they
   don't.  This email integration is rather dissatisfyingly complex;
   we'd be interested to learn of a better way.

Appendix B.  Acknowledgments

   This work wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of those
   people who have trialled use of GitHub at the IETF.  Alia Atlas
   contributed significant text to an earlier version of this document.

   The experiences of the CORE WG in Appendix A.1 were contributed by
   Carsten Bormann.  The experiences of the QUIC WG in Appendix A.2 were
   contributed by Lars Eggert.

Author's Address

   Martin Thomson


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