Updating when Standards Track Documents may Refer Normatively to Documents at a Lower Level

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Last updated 2017-01-18 (latest revision 2016-12-09)
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Network Working Group                                           B. Leiba
Internet-Draft                                       Huawei Technologies
Updates: 3967 (if approved)                            December 09, 2016
Intended status: Best Current Practice
Expires: June 10, 2017

    Updating when Standards Track Documents may Refer Normatively to
                       Documents at a Lower Level


   RFC 3967 specifies a process for allowing normative references to
   documents at lower maturity levels ("downrefs"), which involves
   calling out the downref explicitly in the last call notice.  That
   requirement has proven to be unnecessarily strict, and this document
   updates RFC 3967, allowing the IESG more flexibility in accepting
   downrefs in Standards Track documents.

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
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on June 10, 2017.

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   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
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   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
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1.  Introduction

Leiba                    Expires June 10, 2017                  [Page 1]
Internet-Draft          Document Down-Ref Update           December 2016

   [RFC3967] notes the importance of assuring that normative references
   from Standards Track and Best Current Practice (BCP) documents are
   appropriately mature, and specifies a process for allowing normative
   references to documents at lower maturity levels ("downrefs").  That
   process starts at Last Call (see Section 3 of [RFC3967]):

      For Standards Track or BCP documents requiring normative reference
      to documents of lower maturity, the normal IETF Last Call
      procedure will be issued, with the need for the downward reference
      explicitly documented in the Last Call itself.  Any community
      comments on the appropriateness of downward references will be
      considered by the IESG as part of its deliberations.

   Section 2 of [RFC3967] lists some conditions under which downrefs may
   make sense.  In addition to those, it has become common for working
   groups to produce foundational documents at Informational status,
   which contain important information such as terminology definitions
   and architectural design and considerations, and those documents are
   often needed as normative references in the Standards Track protocol
   documents that follow.

   The requirement to explicitly mention the downrefs and the need for
   them in the Last Call message has proven to be unnecessarily
   restrictive, and has often resulted in unnecessary repetitions of
   Last Call, with the corresponding delay and with no real benefit.

2.  The IESG's Responsibility with Respect to Downrefs

   The process in RFC 3967 is hereby updated to specify that explicitly
   documenting the downward references in the Last Call message is
   strongly recommended, but not required.  The responsible AD should
   still check for downrefs before sending out the last call notice, but
   if an undetected downref is noticed during last call or IESG review,
   any need to repeat the last call is at the discretion of the IESG.
   However, the process in RFC 3967 is not fundamentally altered: If the
   IESG decides not to repeat the last call, the status of the affected
   downrefs is not changed, and the process in RFC 3967 will still apply
   if those downrefs are used in the future.

   This gives the IESG the responsibility to determine the actual
   maturity level of the downward reference with respect to the document
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