Internet-Draft Better Than Errata February 2024
Farrell Expires 14 August 2024 [Page]
Network Working Group
Intended Status:
S. Farrell
Trinity College Dublin

Something Better Than Errata


This document outlines some ideas for a system that would (in the author's view) be better than current errata handling. This is for discussion and is not expected to become an RFC.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 14 August 2024.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Current handling of errata for RFCs is a pain, for all concerned, and is also fairly ineffective in terms of soliciting comment on RFCs, arriving at new text when errors are discovered, likely to see many errata not be processed or be processed at glacial speed, and the current system is also terrible at making changes visible to RFC readers. It's basically a mess.

In this draft, we sugggest an alternative way of handling the discussion and dispositon of errors in RFC text. We maintain the idea that this system aims only to correct errors in RFC text, but is not indended to provide a new route for revision of RFCs.

For simplicity, we describe the system as if it existed. We make no real effort to determine if putting such a system in place would be very easy or very hard and expensive. We also describe the system as if everyone reads RFCs via the datatracker.

The author is not invested in the details here, anything approximating what's described here would probably be fine.

If useful, comments/issues/PRs are welcome at:

2. Policy versus Implementation

Some of the details below are provided via indirection, using the [RPCTBD], reference. In those cases, the intent is that the referenced documents are maintained by, and under the change control of, the RPC, but that those details MUST ensure that control over the content of RFCs remains with the community and is never given to the RPC or IETF LLC. The RPC are expected to consult with the community as changes are considered.

There is one exception - where user-provided input is allowed, then spam will follow. The RPC are empowered to delete obvious spam as soon as possible. The RPC should periodically (perhaps yearly) report to the RSAB on recent trends related to spam in this system.

3. The New System

Once an RFC is published, then, on the datatracker web page for viewing that RFC, there will be a "comment/discuss" button that allows readers with a datatracker account to submit comments on, or questions about, that RFC. Threaded discussions on comments can follow, not unlike issue discussion on github.

Discussion threads for RFCs can be browsed/searched.

Discussion threads are expected to be re-directed to an IETF mailing list as warranted. Discussions can be closed if warranted, e.g. as off-topic. A set of users will have relevant powers, probably including some new role(s) specifically for managing such discussions where nobody else might notice, e.g. on some ancient RFC.

By default, RFC authors and relevant WG chairs will recieve notification when new discussion threads are started.

Comments can be labelled in various ways, by the original poster or by other users with additional privileges, e.g. authors, (former) WG chairs, ADs or IRSG members. The set of priviliges associated with this system are expected to change slowly over time and are documented at [RPCTBD].

One way to label a specific comment that contains a suggested change is as an erratum.

Comments labelled as errata can be upvoted or downvoted. Voting power can vary depending on the user, with authors of the RFC in question, (former) WG chairs, ADs, etc having more voting power. The set of up/down voting rules are expected to change slowly over time and are documented at [RPCTBD].

Once a comment labelled as an erratum has sufficient upvotes, then it can be approved by a relevant approver. For the IETF stream any AD can mark a sufficiently upvoted erratum as approved. Two relevant WG chairs can also do so if there is a relevant WG that is still open or only closed within the previous five years. If an errata for an IETF stream RFC is erroneously approved then that can be reversed by an AD.

It must be possibly to automatically apply the change resulting from an erratum before it is approved. The required formatting may change over time and the current requirements are documented at [RPCTBD].

Other streams will define other approval schemes.

The default HTML view of RFCs will be that with errata applied. The list of applied errata can be viewed via a button, as can any conversation leading up to an approval.

4. Handing existing errata

Some of the issues arising in migrating to the new system include:

The current errata system should remain available in read-only mode so that editors revising RFCs can access e.g. relevant HDFU errata.

5. IANA Considerations

This document makes no request of IANA.

6. Security Considerations

Spam comments and flamewars could distract and damage the reputation of the RFC series.

7. Acknowledgements


8. Normative References

RPC, "somewhere the RPC publish stuff", .

Appendix A. Change Log

Author's Address

Stephen Farrell
Trinity College Dublin
College Green