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

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 an RFC.
Author Barry Leiba
Last updated 2016-12-01
Stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state Approved-announcement to be sent
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Ben Campbell
Send notices to (None)
IANA IANA review state Version Changed - Review Needed
Network Working Group                                           B. Leiba
Internet-Draft                                       Huawei Technologies
Updates: 3967 (if approved)                            December 01, 2016
Intended status: Best Current Practice
Expires: June 02, 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
   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 June 02, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 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 (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
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   as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

1.  Introduction

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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 required for addition to the
   downref registry.  If the IESG decides not to repeat the last call,
   the affected downrefs are not added to the registry.

   This gives the IESG the responsibility to determine the actual
   maturity level of the downward reference with respect to the document
   at hand, and to decide whether or not it is necessary to explicitly
   ask the IETF community for comments on the downref on a case-by-case
   basis.  In making that decision, the IESG should take into account
   the general discussion in RFC 3967.  The responsible AD should make
   sure that the omission is recorded as a comment in the datatracker.

3.  IANA Considerations

   There are no IANA considerations for this document.

4.  Security Considerations

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   Referencing immature protocols can have security and stability
   implications, and the IESG should take that into account when
   deciding whether re-consulting the community is useful.

5.  Normative References

   [RFC3967]  Bush, R. and T. Narten, "Clarifying when Standards Track
              Documents may Refer Normatively to Documents at a Lower
              Level", BCP 97, RFC 3967, DOI 10.17487/RFC3967, December
              2004, <>.

Author's Address

   Barry Leiba
   Huawei Technologies
   Phone: +1 646 827 0648

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