Much of the daily work of the IETF is conducted on electronic mailing lists.
Any interested individual with technical expertise can contribute to IETF work via email. Here we describe the three types of lists we use, plus some other general information you’ll need to know about using email in the IETF.
Contributions to IETF work, including all messages to IETF email lists, are covered by the Note Well policy.
Discussion lists are the largest category of lists we use, and their areas of focus range from very general (the IETF at large) to very focused (a specific working group). With very few exceptions, anyone in the IETF community can send mail to any discussion list.
Our most general IETF Discussion list encompasses a wide variety of topics, mostly technical and some non-technical. While acceptable topics never include advertising, solicitations of employment, or overly personal posts, here you can find all manner of threads which relate to IETF policy and direction as well as technical issues, new proposed work, and general questions. For more thorough details about the general list and other lists of this type, please visit the discussion list page.
For more information on working group mail lists, please see details on the discussion list page or find a specific group’s list on its page in the IETF Datatracker.
Announcement lists are used for distributing information about various topics and do not allow replies. Anyone may subscribe to these six announcement lists:
Non-Working Group lists are for discussing topics that may be of interest to IETF participants but aren't directly related to work within a Working Group or other IETF work.
To request a non-WG mailing list, please refer to "Non-Working Group Email List Guidelines".
Archives are maintained for each list and can be found in a number of ways:
The IETF uses Mailman to manage IETF email discussions.
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, the passwords are encrypted on the server and can not be read by anyone, list admins or server admins. You can also disable the password reminder function by individual email list, or globally for a particular email address.
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.