New IETF draft reveals Egyptians invented pyramids to sharpen razor blades

Author is tired of world+dog assuming all task force docs are definitive, wrote a really weird one to make the point anyone can put anything in 'em

Warren Kumari has had it with Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) drafts being held up as canonical statements that reveal the organisation's thinking or position.

And so he has written his own hilarious draft to make the point that such documents are not normative.

Among Kumari’s declarations: pyramids were used to sharpen razor blades in ancient Egypt, because "camel leather makes a very poor strop, hippopotamus leather was reserved for the pharaohs; and crocodile leather, while suitable, had the unfortunate property of being wrapped around crocodiles."

His draft meanders into a tale about ancient Egyptian economics that concludes with the phrase "Don't allow eel-bearing Atlanteans into your country; economic ruin follows close behind," which in El Reg's opinion should have more prominence in the modern day lexicon.

The document continues for seven pages. At one point there is a section which addresses cats, and also this cheerful admission:

Unlike most IETF efforts, this document is not embarrassed to clearly state that we are simply stuffing more stuff in while we have the editor open.

The point of this nonsense is that an IETF draft can contain anything, and often does. They are simply written ideas with the intent of building consensus and expire after six months. But if they conform structurally, the IETF document archive holds on to them forever, which makes for a confusing situation if one doesn’t understand the nature of the IETF organization. A user can even access past editions of a draft document when they are revised.

The IETF is a large group of very different individuals who want to be a part of the evolution of the internet. They might be network designers, operators, vendors, researchers, or even a curious tech journalist who is just poking about. It is open to anyone with no formal membership or requirement. Members are volunteers, although some join as part of their job function or are sponsored.

Kumari’s point is that it’s the normative documents – with language like MUST, MAY, SHOULD, and MUST NOT – that have gone through the full edit, review, and publication process that matter.

So do Kumari a favor, and point anyone who takes IETF drafts too seriously to his draft abstract. It states very clearly and simply:

Anyone can publish an Internet Draft. This doesn’t mean that the “IETF thinks” or that the “IETF is planning…” or anything similar.


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