Guidance on Interim Meetings, Conference Calls and Jabber Sessions

NOTE: This IESG Statement is superseded by the IESG Statement "Guidance on Face-to-Face and Virtual Interim Meetings" dated 11 January 2016.

Date: 2 Sep 2008

This statement provides IESG guidance on interim IETF Working Group meetings, conference calls, and jabber sessions.

Historically the work of the IETF has been conducted over mailing lists. This practice ensures the widest possible involvement in the working group process. This practice is not as efficient in terms of producing specifications as extended face-to-face meetings but is much more inclusive. In general IETF face-to-face meetings are used to hold high-bandwidth discussions on specific issues that have not been able to be resolved on a mailing list or, in the case of BOFs, to get a common understanding of the issues involved in a particular topic. These face-to-face meetings can be quite important but are not substitutes for mailing list discussions.

There is a long history in the IETF of working groups occasionally holding "interim" face-to-face meetings between the regular IETF meetings to focus on specific issues or resolve specific problems.

Some IETF working groups hold interim conference calls or jabber sessions in lieu of interim face-to-face meetings and to accelerate the working group process.

RFC 2418 section 3.1 tell 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 applies to all in-person meetings to which a large part of the working group is invited, even if labeled as 'informal' to distinguish them from 'real' working group meetings. This does not apply to meetings, conference calls, or jabber sessions for small design teams producing input to working groups. It should also be noted that as RFC 2418 section 3.2 points out, decisions at meetings (normal, interim. conference call, or jabber session) are not final and must be reviewed on the mailing list.

"Advance notification" and "process" require prior approval of the face-to-face meeting by the relevant Area Director and publication of an announcement on the ietf-announce list. "Advance notification" and "process" require prior approval by the Working Group Chair for the conference call (either audio or video) or jabber session and publication of an announcement on the ietf-announce list. Face-to-face meetings must be announced at least four weeks prior to the meeting. Conference calls and jabber sessions must be announced at least two weeks prior to the event. Following announcement, an agenda for the meeting, call, or session must be published in a timely manner. All such meetings, calls, or sessions must be open to all who wish to take part. Detailed minutes are required to be taken and submitted to the IETF Secretariat for inclusion in the next IETF meeting proceedings. A list of attendees must also be submitted. The minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to proceedings@ietf.org within 10 days after the meeting, conference call or jabber session concludes.

Area Director approval is needed to schedule an interim face-to-face meeting. Interim meetings can consume a lot of community resources, including travel costs and time of participants. Also, we have seen significant benefits when two or more working groups meet together. Area Directors are expected to balance the costs to the community associated with interim meetings and the expected benifits. Interim face-to-face meetings which are proposed to eliminate the need for a working group to meet during a regular IETF meeting will not generally be approved.

Working Group Chair approval is needed to schedule a conference call or jabber session.

Area Directors will advise the Working Group Chair on interim face-to-face meeting location, timing, and other aspects of the proposed meeting that with a goal of not unfairly favoring some subset of the potential participants or not unfairly biasing the working group discussions. Working Group Chairs will evaluate the proposed conference call or jabber session logistics for similar fairness concerns, consulting with Area Directors as necessary to resolve any concerns raised by potential participants.

Requests for interim face-to-face meetings must be sent to the appropriate Area Director for approval. The actual announcement text must be sent to iesg-secretary@ietf.org as well as the working group mail list. Of course, the requesting Working Group Chair may send one message, copying both the Area Director and iesg-secretary@ietf.org. Following Area Director approval, the Secretariat will publish the announcement on the ietf-announce list.

The Secretariat is available to help with logistics of face-to-face interim meetings. Of course, the larger the meeting, the more lead time is needed to make arrangements.

Working Group Chairs must send announcement text for an interim conference call or jabber session to iesg-secretary@ietf.org as well as the working group mail list. The Secretariat will publish the announcement on the ietf-announce list.

To summarize:

  • Interim face-to-face meetings of IETF Working Groups need prior approval of relevant ADs
  • Interim conference calls and jabber sessions of IETF Working Groups need prior approval of the Working Group Chair
  • Face-to-face meetings must be announced at least four weeks prior to the meeting, and the agenda must be published at least two weeks before meeting
  • Face-to-face meetings must be scheduled (location/timing) with fair access for all WG participants
  • Conference calls and jabber sessions must be announced at least two weeks prior to the call or session, and the agenda must be published at least one week before call or session
  • Announcement text must be sent to iesg-secretary@ietf.org
  • Detailed minutes, including a list of attendees, must be sent to proceedings@ietf.org and the working group mail list within 10 days of the event
  • Following the guidance in RFC 2418, decisions reached during interim meetings, conference calls, and jabber sessions on topics or issues which have not been discussed on the mailing list or are significantly different from previously arrived mailing list consensus must be reviewed on the mailing list.