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Guidance on In-Person and Online Interim Meetings
statement-iesg-guidance-on-in-person-and-online-interim-meetings-20230127-00

Document Type Replaced IESG Statement
Title Guidance on In-Person and Online Interim Meetings
Published 2023-01-27
Metadata last updated 2024-02-23
State Replaced
Send notices to (None)
statement-iesg-guidance-on-in-person-and-online-interim-meetings-20230127-00

Guidance on In-Person and Online Interim Meetings - SUPERSEDED

27 Jan 2023

This statement provides IESG guidance on in-person and online interim IETF working group meetings.

NOTE: This statement is superseded by the IESG Statement "Guidance on In-Person and Online Interim Meetings" dated 14 August 2023

For the most part, the work of the IETF is conducted over mailing lists. This practice ensures the widest possible participation in the working group process, allows in-depth analysis of proposals and is generally inclusive. In-person meetings during IETF weeks are used for high-bandwidth discussions on specific issues that a working group has not been able to resolve on a mailing list, or, in the case of a BOFs, to get a common understanding of the issues involved in a particular topic. These in-person meetings are important, but not substitutes for mailing list discussions.

There is a long history of IETF working groups occasionally holding in-person interim meetings (i.e., in between the regular IETF meetings) to focus on specific issues or resolve specific problems. In-person interims are costly for the community in terms of time and money, and can hence be exclusionary. When considering whether to approve an in-person interim, area directors are expected to balance these downsides with the expected benefits.

Working group chairs should propose in-person interim meeting logistics (concerning location, timing, and remote participation) that maximize participation opportunities for WG participants. Working group chairs should confirm with the WG that a proposed in-person interim in a given location does not impose undue visa or other travel complications for interested in-person participants, and minimizes timezone issues for interested remote participants. The proposed meeting venue should also be accessible without participants needing to sign non-disclosure-agreements (NDAs) or similar agreements.

Interim meetings of any type are integral to the IETF way of working, and especially online interims expected to become more commonplace over time. However, working groups should occasionally meet in person during regular IETF meetings to engage and interact with the broader IETF community and to reduce the overall travel load for participants.

RFC 2418 section 3.1 tells us that "interim meetings are subject to the same rules for advance notification, reporting, open participation, and process, which apply to other Working Group meetings". This also applies to all in-person meetings to which a substantial part of the working group is invited, even if labeled as “informal” to distinguish them from “real” working group meetings.

Extended sequences of online interim meetings should be considered when numerous specific issues need to be debated. When working group chairs wish to schedule a sequence of more than four online interims, the chairs must explicitly set out the reasoning for that in a mail to the list and check that there is rough consensus for that plan.

The guidelines for in-person interim meetings of IETF working groups are as follows:

  • The meetings need prior approval of the responsible area director well ahead of time.
  • The meetings must be scheduled (location/timing) with fair access for all working group participants. This includes not meeting in countries with overly restrictive visa policies or in venues that require in-person participants to sign NDAs or other agreements. If invitation letters are required for visa purposes, the host of the meeting needs to be able to issue those to all interested in-person participants.
  • The meetings must not be scheduled in the weeks immediately before, during or after IETF plenary meetings.
  • The meetings must be announced at least eight weeks in advance.
  • The draft agenda should be published together with the announcement, to allow participants to determine if and how to attend.
  • Remote participation (via Meetecho or similar) must be provided.
  • Minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to the working group mailing list within ten days (and at least 48 hours before any subsequent meeting), and be uploaded to the Datatracker.

The guidelines for online interim meetings of IETF working groups are as follows:

  • The meetings are scheduled by the working group chairs, who should discuss their plans with the responsible area director well ahead of time.
  • The timezones of the meetings must allow fair access for all working group participants.
  • The meetings must be announced two weeks and the draft agenda must be published at least one week before the call or session.
  • Announcement text must be posted to the relevant working group mailing list.
  • Recurring meetings may be scheduled together, with a single announcement. A separate draft agenda, serving as a meeting reminder, should be posted before each recurrence.
  • Minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to the working group mailing list within ten days (and at least 48 hours before any subsequent meeting), and be uploaded to the Datatracker.

As RFC 2418 Section 3.2 points out, decisions at any meeting (normal, interim, conference call, or chat session) are not final and must be reviewed and confirmed on the mailing list. Special care needs to be taken for topics or issues which have not been discussed on the mailing list or for outcomes that are significantly different from previously arrived mailing list consensus.

Information on how to set up conference calls can be found on the WG Chairs page (https://chairs.ietf.org/).