Internet Draft                                Paul Hoffman
draft-hoffman-what-is-ietf-00.txt             Internet Mail Consortium
September 12, 1999                            Scott Bradner
Expires in six months                         Harvard University

                           Defining the IETF

Status of this memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

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1. Introduction

Many RFCs refer to "the IETF". Many important IETF documents speak of
the IETF as if it was an already-defined entity. However, no IETF
document really defines well what the IETF is. This document gives a
more concrete definition of "the IETF" as it understood today.

2. Defining the IETF

BCP 9 ("The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3", RFC 2026) [BCP
9], the primary document that describes the Internet standards process,
never defines the IETF. As described in BCP 11 ("The Organizations
Involved in the IETF Standards Process", RFC 2028) [BCP 11], the
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an open international
community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers
concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the
smooth operation of the Internet.

It is important to note that the IETF is not a corporation: it is an
unincorporated, freestanding organization. The IETF is partially
supported by the Internet Society (ISOC). ISOC is a US-based non-profit
membership corporation with thousands of individual and corporate
members who pay membership fees to join. The Internet Society provides
many services to the IETF, including insurance and some financial and
logistical support.

As described in BCP 11, Internet standardization is an organized
activity of the ISOC, with the ISOC Board of Trustees being responsible
for ratifying the procedures and rules of the Internet standards
process.  However, the IETF is not a formal subset of ISOC; for
example, one does not have to join ISOC to be a member of the IETF.

There is no board of directors for the IETF, no formally signed bylaws,
no treasurer, and so on. The structure of the IETF (is leadership, its
working groups, the definition of IETF membership, and so on) are
described in detail in BCP 11.

Thus, when RFCs say "the IETF", they are describing the group that acts
in accordance with BCP 9 and BCP 11.

3. Security Considerations

Although the IETF is very involved with security, this document does
not discuss security at all.

A. References

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

[BCP 11] Hovey, R., and Bradner, S., "The Organizations Involved in the
IETF Standards Process", RFC 2028, October 1996.

B. Changes between versions of the draft

This is the initial version of the draft

C. Editors' Addresses

Paul Hoffman
Internet Mail Consortium
127 Segre Place
Santa Cruz, CA  95060  USA

Scott O. Bradner
Harvard University
1730 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA  02138 USA