Network Working Group                                      M. Kuehlewind
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Best Current Practice                           J. Reed
Expires: 19 November 2021                                        R. Salz
                                                             18 May 2021

     Open Participation Principle regarding Remote Registration Fee


   This document proposes 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 (or related events) over the Internet.

Status of This Memo

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   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 19 November 2021.

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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  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5

1.  Introduction

   Remote participation for IETF in-person meetings has evolved over
   time from email-only to live chat and audio streaming, and,
   currently, 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
   to observed 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 recent move to fully online meetings, however, there is no
   longer a distinction between remote and on-site participants.  Since
   IETF meeting costs and other costs still have to be covered, there is
   the need for a meeting fee for remote participants, which risks the
   removal of the free remote option.

   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.

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2.  Principle of open participation

   This document outlines the principle of open participation and
   solicits community feedback in order to reach consensus on this or a
   similar principle that the IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC) can use
   to guide future decision about registration fees for full online

   The principle this document states is simple: there must always be an
   option for free remote participation in any IETF meeting and related
   events that are part of the IETF's open process [RFC3935], whether or
   not that meeting has a physical presence.

   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."

   It should be noted that opennees as defined in [RFC3935] should be
   seen as open and free.  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

   This document does not advise that all IETF meetings or events must
   have a remote participation item, 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 that makes the process as open as possible.
   Having said that, it is of course strongly anticipated that at least
   all sessions of the main agenda of an IETF plenary meeting provide an
   option for remote participation.

   Future, 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.

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3.  Financial Impact

   Online meetings 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 over 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 have a free option that can be used
   without any barriers other than the registration procedure itself.
   As long as there are still enough paying participants to cover the
   base costs, additional participant can effectively be added without
   increasing expenses.

   It is not in scope for this document or the SHMOO working group 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.

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
   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.

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   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 information.  However, as long as the number of
   paid registrations stays stable and retains the projected needed
   income, an increase in use of free registrations should not
   necessarily be taken as a sign of misuse but rather a sign of
   increased interest and success for the open participation principle.
   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.  These are
   risks that can impact the sustainability of the IETF independent of
   the free registration option due to its dependency on meetings fees
   to cross-finance other costs.

5.  Acknowledgments

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

6.  Normative References

   [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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