Avoiding Exclusionary Language in RFCs
draft-moore-exclusionary-language-00

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Author Keith Moore 
Last updated 2020-08-26
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GENDISPATCH                                                     K. Moore
Internet-Draft                                          Network Heretics
Intended status: Standards Track                          26 August 2020
Expires: 27 February 2021

                 Avoiding Exclusionary Language in RFCs
                  draft-moore-exclusionary-language-00

Abstract

   It has been asserted that some language in IETF documents is
   "exclusionary" - that it offends some readers or groups of people,
   and/or discourages participation in IETF by doing so.  While there is
   some debate about exactly which language is exclusionary, at least
   some cited examples of such language can credibly have such effects.
   It is believed that most instances of such language are accidental,
   and that most document authors and editors wish to avoid use of
   language that may be offensive.  This memo therefore attempts to
   establish procedures that warn document authors and editors about
   language that may credibly having such effects, and thereby, to
   reduce both accidental and deliberate use of such language.

   At the same time, it is recognized that in some cases there an be
   strong and conflicting opinions about whether or not particular
   language is desirable or appropriate.  IETF's primary function is
   providing technical direction for the benefit of the Internet
   community, rather than social engineering.  If a document can be
   blocked or substantially delayed over disputes about the proprietary
   of language in that document, this can be disruptive to IETF's
   primary function.  This memo therefore makes recommendations to
   prevent such disputes from blocking progress on technical 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 https://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   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."

Moore                   Expires 27 February 2021                [Page 1]
Internet-Draft   Avoiding Exclusionary Language in RFCs      August 2020

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 27 February 2021.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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 (https://trustee.ietf.org/
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect 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
   2.  Language That Offends or Distracts is Counterproductive to
           IETF's Goals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Reasons for Caution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     3.1.  Potential Harm to Accessibility of IETF Documents . . . .   3
     3.2.  Small Benefit, Potentially Large Cost . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.3.  Potential For Unproductive Distraction  . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.4.  Late Substitution of Words Considered Harmful . . . . . .   5
     3.5.  No Sweet Spot For Non-Technical Discussions . . . . . . .   6
     3.6.  Need to Minimize Disruption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.1.  RFC Editor Requested To Advise Community About Potentially
            Exclusionary Language  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.2.  Complaints Preferred From Aggrieved Parties . . . . . . .   7
     4.3.  Authors/Editors Entrusted To Avoid Exclusionary
            Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.4.  Embellishment of Internet-Drafts Tools  . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.5.  Working Group Chairs May Limit Discussion of Language . .   8
     4.6.  IESG Should Defer To Working Group Consensus On
            Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     4.7.  Blocking Based On Language Must be Based On IETF
            Consensus  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     4.8.  No Automatic Substitution Of Identified Words . . . . . .   8
     4.9.  No Requirement To Revise Existing RFCs  . . . . . . . . .   8
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