Network Working Group                                      M. Kuehlewind
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Best Current Practice                           J. Reed
Expires: 5 December 2022                                         R. Salz
                                                             3 June 2022

     Open Participation Principle regarding Remote Registration Fee


   This document outlines a principle for open participation that
   extends the open process principle defined in RFC3935 by stating that
   there must always be a free option for online participation to IETF
   meetings and, if possible, related IETF-hosted events over the

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   Copyright (c) 2022 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   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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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Principle of Open Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Financial Impact  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Considerations on Use and Misuse of a Free Participation
           Option  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   5.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   Remote participation for IETF in-person meetings has evolved over
   time from email-only to live chat and audio streaming, and,
   subsequently, to a full online meeting system that is tightly
   integrated with the in-room session and enables interactive
   participation by audio and video.  Due to this evolution, and because
   most in-person attendees paid registration fees and this has been
   sufficient to support the meeting, online participation has
   historically been free for remote attendees.

   Given this more full-blown participation option, the IETF has started
   seen an increasing number of remote participants.  This increase can
   be explained by the ease with which new participants can join a
   meeting or only attend selected parts of the meeting agenda, and also
   by a less strongly perceived need to attend every meeting in person,
   either due to financial reasons or other circumstances.  In order to
   better understand these trends the IETF started requiring
   registration as "participant" (in contrast to an "observer") for
   remote participation, still without any registration fee applied.

   With the move to fully online meetings in 2020, however, there is no
   longer a distinction between remote and on-site participants.  Since
   IETF meeting costs and other costs still had to be covered, there was
   the need for a meeting fee for remote participants, which risks the
   removal of the free remote option.

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   The introduction of a fee for remote participation raised concerns
   about the potential impact on both, those who regularly remotely
   attend IETF meetings as well as people considering attending an IETF
   meeting for the first time.  In both cases, even a small registration
   fee can be a barrier to participation.

2.  Principle of Open Participation

   This document outlines the principle of open participation that the
   IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC) is expected to incorporate into
   decisions about the registration fee structure for fully online

   The principle this document states is simple: there must always be an
   option for free remote participation in any IETF meeting, regardless
   of whether the meeting has a physical presence.  Related events of a
   meeting for which the IETF provides remote participation services and
   are therefore part of the IETF's open process [RFC3935] are
   encouraged to follow this principle as well.

   This principle aims to support the openness principle of the IETF as
   defined in [RFC3935]:

   "Open process - any interested person can participate in the work,
   know what is being decided, and make his or her voice heard on the
   issue.  Part of this principle is our commitment to making our
   documents, our WG mailing lists, our attendance lists, and our
   meeting minutes publicly available on the Internet."

   While the principle in RFC3935 is explicitly noting that this
   principle includes a requirement to open basically all our documents
   and documentation and making them accessible over the Internet, it
   was probably written with mainly having email interactions in mind
   when talking about participation.  This document extends this
   principle to explicitly cover online participation at meetings.
   Particularly in this context, openness should be seen as open and

   This document does not stipulate that all IETF meetings or related
   IETF events must have a remote participation option, because there
   could be technical or other reasons why that might not always be
   possible.  This document rather says that if remote participation is
   provided, there should always be a free option to make the process as
   open as possible.  Having said that, it is of course strongly
   anticipated that at least all working group sessions as well as BoFs
   and the administrative plenary of an IETF meeting provide an option
   for remote participation.

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   Further, in order to fully remove barriers to participation, any free
   registration option must offer the same degree of interactivity and
   functionality available to paid remote attendees.  The free option
   must be clearly and prominently listed on the meeting website and
   registration page.  If the free option requires additional
   registration steps, such as applying for a fee waiver, those
   requirements should be clearly documented.

3.  Financial Impact

   Online meetings can have lower costs than in-person meetings,
   however, they still come with expenses, as do other services that the
   IETF provides such as mailing lists, document access via the
   datatracker or other online platforms, or support for
   videoconferencing, e.g., with Webex accounts for working groups and
   other roles in the IETF.

   These and other operating costs of the IETF are also cross-financed
   by income generated through meeting fees.  The intention of this
   document and the principle stated herein is not to make participation
   free for everyone, but to always offer a free remote participation
   option that a potential attendee can apply for without any barriers
   other than the registration procedure itself.  As long as the overall
   meeting expenses are covered by paid registrations, sponsorships and
   other sources of revenue, additional remote participants usually
   impose very low additional expenses.

   It is not in scope for this document to make suggestions for changing
   the IETF's overall funding model.  This is the responsibility of the
   IETF LLC Board taking agreed principles like the one proposed in this
   document into account.  If unlimited free remote participation is
   determined to adversely affect the number of paying participants or
   the cost of free participation emerges to a signification factor, the
   LLC might implement additional measures to manage these costs.  If
   the LLC decides to do this, they should make their decision and
   rationale known to the community.  As discussed in the next section,
   assessment of eligibility is difficult and any limit on the number of
   available free registrations can cause unfairness and negatively
   impact openness.

4.  Considerations on Use and Misuse of a Free Participation Option

   This document does not provide specific requirements on when to use
   or not use the free option.  The purpose of the free option is to
   enable everybody who is interested in participation to join meetings
   without the meeting fee imposing a financial barrier.  These cases
   cannot be limited to a certain group, like students or "self-funded"
   participants, nor to any specific other restrictions like the number

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   of meetings previously attended or previous level of involvement.
   The purpose is simply to maximise participation without barriers in
   order to make the standards process as open as possible.

   It is expected that participants who have financial support to use
   the regular registration option will do so.  Paying a registration
   fee is a way for their sponsor to support the sustainability of the
   IETF.  For example, a higher late payment charge can be used to
   maximise this financial support.  However, this document does not
   comment on the actual payment structure of the IETF meeting fee other
   than the requirement for a free option.  The fee payment structure is
   set the by the IETF LLC such that the viability of the IETF and the
   need of IETF participants to work productively within the IETF can be

   The LLC is responsible to ensure the financial stability of the IETF
   and therefore should monitor trends in the use of the free
   participation option that could endanger the viability of the IETF
   and, if necessary, manage the associated costs.  Aggregated data on
   the number and percentage of free registrations used should be
   published, as this will permit analysis of the use and change in use
   over time of the free registration option without revealing personal

   As the principle defined in this document aims to promote openness
   and thereby enhance participation, an increase in use of free
   registrations is a success and likely a sign of increased interest
   and not necessarily a sign of misuse, as long as the number of paid
   registrations stays stable and retains the projected needed income.
   If the number of paid registrations, however, decreases, this can
   still also have various reasons other than misuse, such as
   restrictions on travel to physical meetings due to cost savings or
   environmental reasons, general cost savings and lesser focus on
   standardization work, or simply lost of business interest.  Such
   trends can impact the sustainability of the IETF due to its
   dependency on meetings fees to cross-finance other costs, independent
   of use of the free registrations.

5.  Acknowledgments

   Thanks to everybody involved in the shmoo working group discussion,
   esepcially Brian Carpenter, Jason Livingood, Lars Eggert, and Charles
   Eckel for proposing concrete improvements and their in-depth reviews.

6.  Normative References

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   [RFC3935]  Alvestrand, H., "A Mission Statement for the IETF",
              BCP 95, RFC 3935, DOI 10.17487/RFC3935, October 2004,

Authors' Addresses

   Mirja Kuehlewind

   Jon Reed

   Rich Salz

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