A Discussion on Computer Network Conferencing
RFC 1324

Document Type RFC - Informational (May 1992; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         D. Reed
Request for Comments: 1324                                   May 1992

             A Discussion on Computer Network Conferencing

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is
   unlimited.

Abstract

   This memo is intended to make more people aware of the present
   developments in the Computer Conferencing field as well as put
   forward ideas on what should be done to formalize this work so that
   there is a common standard for programmers and others who are
   involved in this field to work with.  It is also the intention of
   this memo to stimulate the computer community and generate some
   useful discussion about the merits of this field.

Introduction

   Computer network conferencing is just now starting to grow and take
   advantage of the modern technology that is available.  Although there
   are some systems which have been around for some time (BRC - Bitnet
   Relay Chat and IRC - Internet Relay Chat), there has not been any
   real move to bring them together under a single protocol. This has
   led to various protocols and different systems coming to life. As
   these different systems continue to pop up, it is becoming more
   obvious that there is need of a standard in this area for developers
   to follow without the need of worrying about protocol clashes.

   In any implementation of a conferencing program, there are likely to
   be two main components: (1) a client program or interface which users
   enter commands into (hereafter referred to as a "client") and 2) a
   server program which acts as a multiplexor for various clients which
   connect to it. There are other expectations and requirements for both
   servers and clients which are mentioned in more detail later.

Table of Contents

   1.0     Network Conferencing Today........................... 2
   1.1     Conferencing in general today........................ 2
   1.2     Talk/phone vs. conferencing.......................... 3
   1.3     Advantages of realtime network conferencing.......... 3
   2.0     Goals for what a protocol should provide............. 4

Reed                                                            [Page 1]
RFC 1324             Computer Network Conferencing              May 1992

   2.1     State Information problems........................... 4
   2.2     Network barriers..................................... 4
   2.3     User needs........................................... 4
   2.3.1   User privacy......................................... 4
   2.3.2   Realtime Expectations................................ 5
   2.4     Message Delivery..................................... 5
   2.4.1   Deficiencies in using IP only........................ 5
   2.4.2   Flexibility.......................................... 5
   2.4.3   Building a flexible transport protocol............... 5
   2.5     Network Structure.................................... 5
   2.5.1   Size................................................. 5
   3.0     Usage................................................ 6
   4.0     Setting it up........................................ 6
   4.1     Installation......................................... 6
   4.2     Controlling growth................................... 7
   5.0     Finding the *right* protocol......................... 7
   5.1     Name for protocol.................................... 7
   5.2     Responsibilities of conference servers............... 7
   5.2.1   Message passing...................................... 7
   5.2.2   Who is on?........................................... 7
   5.2.3   Who is who?.......................................... 8
   5.2.4   Conference security.................................. 8
   5.2.5   Error reporting...................................... 8
   5.2.6   Network Friendliness................................. 8
   5.2.7   To ASCII or not to ASCII............................. 8
   5.2.8   Queries or messages to a server and replies.......... 9
   5.3     Responsibilities of clients.......................... 9
   5.3.1   Providing accurate information....................... 9
   5.3.2   Client as servers.................................... 9
   5.4     How complex should the protocol be?................. 10
   5.4.1   User identification................................. 10
   5.4.2   Trees and cycles.................................... 10
   5.5     Protocol summary.................................... 10
   6.0     Security Considerations............................. 10
   7.0     Author's Address.................................... 11

1.0  NETWORK CONFERENCING TODAY

1.1  Conferencing in general today

   Conferences today are an integral part of the business world in many
   ways. A conference may be held to reassure staff about company
   problems (boost moral) or may be held by a few directors in an
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