Evaluation of a Sample of RFC Produced in 2018

The information below is for an old version of the document
Document Type Expired Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Christian Huitema 
Last updated 2020-10-07 (latest revision 2020-04-05)
Stream Independent Submission
Expired & archived
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IETF conflict review conflict-review-huitema-rfc-eval-project
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Stream ISE state In ISE Review
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Document shepherd Adrian Farrel
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Send notices to Adrian Farrel <rfc-ise@rfc-editor.org>

This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


This document presents the author's effort to understand the delays involved in publishing an idea in the IETF, from the first individual draft to the publication of the RFC. We analyze a set of randomly chosen RFC approved in 2018, looking for history and delays. We also use two randomly chosen sets of RFC published in 2008 and 1998 for comparing delays seen in 2018 to those observed 10 or 20 years ago. The average RFC in the 2018 sample was produced in 3 years and 4 months, of which 2 years and 10 months were spent in the working group, 3 to 4 months for IETF consensus and IESG review, and 3 to 4 months in RFC production. The main variation in RFC production delays comes from the AUTH-48 phase. We also measure the number of citations of the chosen RFC using Semantic Scholar, and compare citation counts with what we know about deployment. We show that citation counts indicate academic interest, but correlate only loosely with deployment or usage of the specifications. Counting web references could complement that. The RFCs selected for this survey were chosen at random and represent a small sample of all RFCs produced, and only approximately 10% of the RFCs produced in each of 1998, 2008, and 2018. It is possible that different samples would produce different results. Furthermore, the conclusions drawn from the observations made in this document represent the author's opinions and do not have consensus of the IETF.


Christian Huitema (huitema@huitema.net)

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)