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IETF Glossary

This page provides information about terms commonly used in the IETF.

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Glossary items


AD - Area Director

ADs are members of the IESG


The IETF organizes its work by technical topic into several areas.

ART - Applications and Real-Time Area

Protocols seen by user programs, such as email and the web, Delay-sensitive interpersonal communications. More information is here.

AS - Applicability Statement


BCP - Best Current Practice

Blue sheets

Blue sheets are records of IETF session participation.

BOF - Birds of a Feather

A BOF is a session at an IETF meeting which permits "market research" and technical "brainstorming." Often BOFs are held to explore whether an issue merits the formation of a working group. In addition, a BOF may serve as a forum for a single presentation or discussion, without any intent to form a working group. More information is available here.



A Contribution is any submission to the IETF intended by the Contributor for publication as all or part of an Internet-Draft or RFC (except for RFC Editor Contributions described in RFC 5378, Section 4) and any statement made within the context of an IETF activity. Such statements include oral statements in IETF sessions as well as written and electronic communications, made at any time or place, that are addressed to: 

  • the IETF plenary session, 
  • any IETF working group or portion thereof, 
  • any Birds of a Feather (BOF) session, 
  • the IESG, or any member thereof on behalf of the IESG, 
  • the IAB, or any member thereof on behalf of the IAB, 
  • any IETF mailing list, including the IETF list itself, any working group or design team list, or any other list - functioning under IETF auspices, 
  • the RFC Editor or the Internet-Drafts function (except for RFC Editor Contributions, as described in RFC 5378, Section 4).
Statements made outside of an IETF session, mailing list, or other function, that are clearly not intended to be input to an IETF activity, group, or function are not IETF Contributions in the context of this document.


A Contributor is an individual submitting a Contribution.


Copyright is the legal right granted to an author in a document or other work of authorship under applicable law. A "copyright" is not equivalent to a "right to copy". Rather a copyright encompasses all of the exclusive rights that an author has in a work, such as the rights to copy, publish, distribute and create derivative works of the work. An author often cedes these rights to his or her employer or other parties as a condition of employment or compensation.


Document Shepherd

A person responsible for tracking and facilitating document progression through RFC publication. The basic concept of document shepherding is for a a single person to take responsibility for a document from the time the WG Chair(s) requests the IESG to publish it to the time that it is given final edits by the RFC Editor. The motivation is for the shepherd to provide needed coordination. It is easy to lose important information or cause delays without the shepherd's coordination.

Downref - Downward Reference

A normative reference to a document at a lower maturity level.

DS - Draft Standard


FAQ - Frequently Asked Question(s)

FYI - For Your Information (RFC)


Gen-ART - General Area Review Team

Gen-ART provides generalist reviews for the General Area director (currently the IETF Chair), providing an additional set of eyes for documents as they are being considered for publication.

GEN - General Area

Catch-all for WGs that don't fit in other areas (which is very few)


IAB - Internet Architecture Board

The IAB is responsible for defining the overall architecture of the Internet, providing guidance and broad direction to the IETF. The IAB also serves as the technology advisory group to the Internet Society, and oversees a number of critical activities in support of the Internet.

IAD - IETF Administrative Director

IANA - Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

Global coordination of the DNS Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources is performed as the Internet Assigned Numbers (IANA).

IASA - IETF Administrative Support Activity

ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

I-D - Internet Draft

I-Ds are working documents of the IETF, its areas, and its working groups. During the development of a specification, draft versions of the document are made available for informal review and comment by placing them in the IETF's Internet-Drafts directory. This makes an evolving working document readily available to a wide audience, facilitating the process of review and revision.

IESG - Internet Engineering Steering Group

The IESG is responsible for technical management of IETF activities and the Internet standards process. As part of the ISOC, it administers the process according to the rules and procedures which have been ratified by the ISOC Trustees. The IESG is directly responsible for the actions associated with entry into and movement along the Internet "standards track," including final approval of specifications as Internet Standards.

IETF - Internet Engineering Task Force

The IETF is the protocol engineering and development arm of the Internet. Though it existed informally for some time, the group was formally established by the IAB in 1986 with Phill Gross as the first Chair.

Indirect Contributor

An Indirect Contributor is any person who has materially or substantially contributed to a Contribution without being personally involved in its submission to the IETF.

Informative Reference

An informative reference is not normative (see definition below); rather, it provides only additional background information.

INT - Internet Area

Different ways of moving IP packets and DNS information

IPR - Intellectual Property Rights

The IETF intellectual property rights rules are defined in RFC 3979, "Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology" (updated by RFC4879, "Clarification of the Third Party Disclosure Procedure in RFC 3979").

IRTF - Internet Research Task Force

The IRTF's mission is to promote research of importance to the evolution of the future Internet by creating focused, long-term and small Research Groups working on topics related to Internet protocols, applications, architecture and technology.

ISE - Independent Submissions Editor

The ISE reviews documents progressed on the Independent Stream, which allows RFC publication for some documents that are outside the official IETF/IAB/IRTF process but are relevant to the Internet community.

ISOC - Internet Society

The Internet Society is a global cause-driven organization governed by a diverse Board of Trustees that is dedicated to ensuring that the Internet stays open, transparent and defined by users.


LC - Last Call

A Last Call is a notice sent to the IETF community (via the IETF-Announce email list) on such topics as pending IESG consideration of documents, sent in order to permit a final review by the general Internet community.


MISSREF - Missing Reference

Documents in the RFC Editor Queue that have normative references to other documents that have not yet been approved for publication.


Normative Reference

A normative reference specifies a document that must be read to fully understand or implement the subject matter in the new RFC, or whose contents are effectively part of the new RFC, as its omission would leave the new RFC incompletely specified.


OPS - Operations and Management Area


PS - Proposed Standard


RFC - Request for Comments

RSOC - RFC Series Oversight Committee

RSOC provides a focus for the IAB’s responsibility to manage the RFC Editor function, including the RFC Series Editor. The details of the RSE function, and the RSOC are document in RFC 6635.

RTG - Routing Area

The Routing Area is responsible for ensuring continuous operation of the Internet routing system by maintaining the scalability and stability characteristics of the existing routing protocols, as well as developing new protocols, extensions, and bug fixes


SEC - Security Directorate

Secdir provides support to the IETF Security Area Directors. The group consists of the Working Group Chairs of the Security Area and selected individuals chosen for their technical knowledge in security and their willingness to work with other groups within the IETF to help provide security throughout IETF protocols.

STD - Standard (RFC)


TS - Technical Specification

TSV - Transport Area

Special services for special packets 


WGLC - Working Group Last Call

WGLC is a Last Call within the working group (conducted over the working group's email list) before a document is passed on to the IESG for consideration.

WG -Working Group

WGs are the primary mechanism for development of IETF specifications and guidelines, many of which are intended to be standards or recommendations.  WGs are typically created to address a specific problem or to produce one or more specific deliverables (a guideline, standards specification, etc.).