A Mission Statement for the IETF
RFC 3935

Document Type RFC - Best Current Practice (October 2004; No errata)
Also known as BCP 95
Was draft-alvestrand-ietf-mission (individual in gen area)
Author Harald Alvestrand 
Last updated 2015-10-14
Stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Formats plain text html pdf htmlized (tools) htmlized bibtex
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd No shepherd assigned
IESG IESG state RFC 3935 (Best Current Practice)
Action Holders
Consensus Boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date
Responsible AD David Kessens
Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                      H. Alvestrand
Request for Comments: 3935                                 Cisco Systems
BCP: 95                                                     October 2004
Category: Best Current Practice

                    A Mission Statement for the IETF

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).


   This memo gives a mission statement for the IETF, tries to define the
   terms used in the statement sufficiently to make the mission
   statement understandable and useful, argues why the IETF needs a
   mission statement, and tries to capture some of the debate that led
   to this point.

1. Mission Statement

   The goal of the IETF is to make the Internet work better.

   The mission of the IETF is to produce high quality, relevant
   technical and engineering documents that influence the way people
   design, use, and manage the Internet in such a way as to make the
   Internet work better.  These documents include protocol standards,
   best current practices, and informational documents of various kinds.

   The IETF will pursue this mission in adherence to the following
   cardinal principles:

   Open process - any interested person can participate in the work,
      know what is being decided, and make his or her voice heard on the
      issue.  Part of this principle is our commitment to making our
      documents, our WG mailing lists, our attendance lists, and our
      meeting minutes publicly available on the Internet.

   Technical competence - the issues on which the IETF produces its
      documents are issues where the IETF has the competence needed to
      speak to them, and that the IETF is willing to listen to

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RFC 3935                 IETF Mission Statement             October 2004

      technically competent input from any source.  Technical competence
      also means that we expect IETF output to be designed to sound
      network engineering principles - this is also often referred to as
      "engineering quality".

   Volunteer Core - our participants and our leadership are people who
      come to the IETF because they want to do work that furthers the
      IETF's mission of "making the Internet work better".

   Rough consensus and running code - We make standards based on the
      combined engineering judgement of our participants and our real-
      world experience in implementing and deploying our specifications.

   Protocol ownership - when the IETF takes ownership of a protocol or
      function, it accepts the responsibility for all aspects of the
      protocol, even though some aspects may rarely or never be seen on
      the Internet.  Conversely, when the IETF is not responsible for a
      protocol or function, it does not attempt to exert control over
      it, even though it may at times touch or affect the Internet.

2.  Definition of Terms

   Mission: What an organization sets out to do.  This is in contrast to
      its goal (which is what it hopes to achieve by fulfilling its
      mission), and to its activities (which is what specific actions it
      takes to achieve its mission).

   The Internet: A large, heterogeneous collection of interconnected
      systems that can be used for communication of many different types
      between any interested parties connected to it.  The term includes
      both the "core Internet" (ISP networks) and "edge Internet"
      (corporate and private networks, often connected via firewalls,
      NAT boxes, application layer gateways and similar devices).  The
      Internet is a truly global network, reaching into just about every
      country in the world.
      The IETF community wants the Internet to succeed because we
      believe that the existence of the Internet, and its influence on
      economics, communication, and education, will help us to build a
      better human society.

   Standard: As used here, the term describes a specification of a
      protocol, system behaviour or procedure that has a unique
      identifier, and where the IETF has agreed that "if you want to do
      this thing, this is the description of how to do it".  It does not
      imply any attempt by the IETF to mandate its use, or any attempt
      to police its usage - only that "if you say that you are doing
      this according to this standard, do it this way".  The benefit of

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RFC 3935                 IETF Mission Statement             October 2004

      a standard to the Internet is in interoperability - that multiple
      products implementing a standard are able to work together in
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