Email lists

Much of the daily work of the IETF is conducted on electronic mailing lists.

Key Info

Any interested individual with technical expertise can contribute to IETF work via email. There are four categories of mailing lists:

General IETF discussion list

The IETF discussion list serves two purposes. It furthers the development and specification of Internet technology through discussion of technical issues, and it hosts discussions of IETF direction, policy, and procedures. As this is the most general IETF mailing list, considerable latitude is allowed with respect to topics discussed. Advertising, whether to solicit business or to promote employment opportunities, falls well outside the range of acceptable topics, as do discussions of a personal nature.

The IETF discussion list is meant for initial discussion only. Discussions that fall within the area of any working group list (or other well established list) should be moved to that more specific list as soon as this is pointed out, unless the issue is one for which the working group needs wider input or direction.

In addition to the topics noted above, appropriate postings include:

  • Last Call discussions of proposed protocol actions
  • Discussion of technical issues that are candidates for IETF work, but do not yet have an appropriate e-mail venue
  • Discussion of IETF administrative policies
  • Questions and clarifications concerning IETF meetings 

More information about the IETF Discussion list and other discussion lists can be found on our the discussion list webpage.

Announcement Lists

Announcement lists are used for distributing information about various topics and are not set up to be used for discussion. The IETF maintains four announcement lists:

  • I-D Announce receives announcements about actions taken on Internet Drafts currently being considered by the IETF ("I-D Action").
  • IETF Announce receives announcements about IETF meetings, the activities and actions of the IESG, the RFC Editor, and the NomCom, and other announcements of interest to the IETF community.
  • IPR Announce list receives announcements when IPR disclosures are uploaded to the IETF website.
  • IESG Agenda Distribution list receives the "Preliminary Agenda" for each IESG biweekly teleconference.

Working Group Lists

Each IETF Working Group has its own discussion list for the work being done within the group. This is the list used to consider documents and is where issues are considered officially—even if they are preliminarily discussed in person at meetings. Information about—including links to mailing list subscription information and archives—for active IETF working groups are available at the IETF Datatracker on the "About" tab for each working group.

Non-Working Group Lists 

Non-Working Group lists are for discussing topics that may be of interest to IETF participants but aren't directly considering work within a Working Group or other IETF work. However, statements addressed to these lists are considered IETF contributions and are subject to the IETF intellectual property rights rules as defined in RFC 5378 and RFC 3979.

To request a non-WG mailing list, please refer to "Non-Working Group Email List Guidelines".


Contributions to IETF work, including to IETF email lists, are covered by the Note Well policy.


Archives are maintained for each list and can be found in a number of ways:


The IETF uses Mailman to manage IETF email discussions.

Info for First-time Subscribers

Preventing list spam is a high priority for the IETF.  As a result, we have a challenge-response system known as Postconfirm which sends
confirmation messages out when email messages come in from new or unknown addresses.

First-time subscribers to the IETF who send an email to a list immediately after subscribing will generally receive confirmation
emails prior to their original message being accepted. If you don't see your first messages go through, please check your inbox and/or
spam folder for confirmation emails which should have arrived right after you sent your original message.  A quick reply to the
confirmation email will release your original message and send it through automatically. Messages sent after the initial posting
confirmation reply will not require further confirmation.


When you subscribe to a IETF email list, Mailman will offer you the opportunity to enter a privacy password. As they state on the list subscription page, "this provides only mild security, but should prevent others from messing with your subscription. Do not use a valuable password as it will occasionally be emailed back to you in cleartext. If you choose not to enter a password, one will be automatically generated for you, and it will be sent to you once you've confirmed your subscription. You can always request a mail-back of your password when you edit your personal options. "

Please note that although Mailman will send the password reminders for each subscription in clear text in an email (these can be turned off by the user, by individual list or globally for that email address), the passwords are encrypted on the server and can not be read by anyone, list admins or server admins.

Changing a Subscriber Address Globally

  1. Go to<email address>
  2. Enter your password. (If you do not remember your password, there is a button here to have the system send you a password reminder.)
  3. Under the "Changing your IETF list information" section, enter
    your new email address in the appropriate fields. 
  4. Check the "Change globally" box.
  5. Hit the "Change My Address and Name" button.
  6. You will receive an email at your new address asking you to confirm the change.

Bounce Policy 

Occasionally list subscribers will have their addresses disabled due to the internal Mailman bounce policy; this policy is explained below.

Each email address that mailman sends to has a corresponding bounce score. Every day that mail to an address bounces back will cause the bounce score for that email address to be increased, by 1 for a hard (fatal) bounce and by 0.5 for a soft (transient) bounce. If mailman can't determine whether it's a hard or a soft bounce it uses hard by default.

Once the bounce score for an email address reaches 5 the account (subscription) will be disabled. Mailman will try sending 3 warning messages, each 3 days apart, to the email address to the tell the recipient their account has been disabled and how to re-enable it. If the account is still disabled after this then mailman will remove the email address from the membership list.


  • [1] RFC 5378
    Rights Contributors Provide to the IETF Trust

    The IETF policies about rights in Contributions to the IETF are designed to ensure that such Contributions can be made available to the IETF and Internet communities while permitting the authors to retain as many rights as possible. This memo details the IETF policies on rights in Contributions to…

  • [2] RFC 3979
    Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology

    The IETF policies about Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), such as patent rights, relative to technologies developed in the IETF are designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have as much information about any IPR constraints on a technical proposal as possible. The policies ar…