The IETF operates over 500 mailing lists and it is on these where most of the work of the IETF is conducted.
Overview of our mailing lists
Mailing lists are critical to the operation of the IETF and it is on mailing lists that the majority of the work of the IETF takes place. Most of our lists allow anyone to subscribe and post and have a publicly available archive of all messages sent. A few lists have restrictions on who can subscribe and post but still have a public archive. There are also a few lists with more complex controls.
Please note that all message to all IETF mailing lists are considered contributions to IETF work and are covered by a range of policies as set out in the Note Well.
Accessing our mailing lists and mailing list messages
There are four ways to access our mailing lists and messages:
- By subscribing directly to a list (see the subscribe links below). That will allow the address you subscribe with to post to that list and it will receive all messages sent to that list.
- By searching the web based mail archive. This also allows you to download a set of emails as importable eml files. Unfortunately, the archives for some lists from many years ago, when the IETF did not have its own servers, have been lost.
- By downloading the archives of mail messages as text files. These archives can also be mirrored using rsync.
- An IMAP server with all messages from all lists is available for IMAP access at imap.ietf.org:993.
For authenticated access, use your IETF Datatracker login and password. For anonymous access, use username="anonymous", and provide your email address as a password.
Please note that we operate a challenge-response anti-spam system for all new email addresses either at subscription or the very first time they post.
Our lists in more detail
Public IETF mailing lists broadly fit into the following categories:
- Announcement lists
- Working Group and BOF lists
- General discussion lists
- Meeting lists
- Leadership lists
- Team lists
- Social lists
A reasonably complete list of our public mailing lists can be found on the main listinfo page.
Announcement lists are used for distributing information about various topics. Anyone may subscribe to these announcement lists: Only authorised senders can post a message to one of these lists with all other messages rejected.
- IETF Announce. This is the main announcement list for the IETF. It is fairly high traffic (~5 messages per day) as it is used for announcements a wide range of topics, including IETF meetings, the activities and actions of the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), RFC publication, activities of the other leadership groups within the IETF, updates from the Nominating Committee, and other announcements of interest to the IETF community. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- I-D Announce. Specifically for actions taken on Internet-Drafts currently being considered by the IETF. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- New Working Group Docs. Notifications when Internet-Drafts are adopted by an IETF working group [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- IPR Announce. Notifications when IPR disclosures are uploaded to the IETF website. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- IESG Agenda Distribution. A summarized agenda for each IESG biweekly teleconference is sent to this list. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- RFP Announce. Distributes new RFPs for IETF related work and announces contract awards. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- IRTF Announce. Announcements about IRTF meetings, the activities and actions of the IRTF, and other announcements of interest to the IRTF community. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
Working Group and BoF lists
Each IETF working group and Birds-of-a-Feather group maintains a general discussion mailing list where most of its work is conducted. Mail on the working group mailing lists is expected to be technically relevant to the working groups supported by those lists. Anyone can subscribe to a working group list and the archives are all public.
To subscribe to a Working Group mailing list see the web page for that working group using the list of active working groups on our Datatracker system.
There is also a list of concluded Working Groups and BOFs which provides pointers to mail archives if available.
General discussion lists
These cover a wide range of topics. Anyone can subscribe to a general discussion list and the archives are all public.Unfortunately we do not have an index of general discussion lists and so what follows is a non-exhaustive list of the most important ones:
- IETF Discussion list. This list furthers the development and specification of Internet technology through the general discussion of technical, procedural, operational, and other topics for which no dedicated mailing lists exist. As this is the most general IETF mailing list, considerable latitude in terms of topics is allowed. It is the IETF list with posting on the broadest charter, and can be a place to start discussions on a particular topic. However, there are posts and topics that are unsuitable for this mailing list and so this list has special rules on content and moderation [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- Architecture Discuss list. Technical discussion forum for all members of the IETF community that are interested in larger architectural issues. It is meant to be an open discussion forum for all long and/or wide range architectural concerns related to the Internet architecture. In particular, it may be used to discuss and bring forth different points of view on controversial architectural questions. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- Last Call list. The discussion forum for proposed actions that are in IETF Last Call. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- Admin Discuss list. For any general issue related to the IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC) and its work including meetings, finances and general IETF operations. It is used as the reply-to address for IETF LLC consultations with the IETF community. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- RFC Interest list. General discussion about RFCs and the editorial and publication processes. NOTE: This list address is on one of the IETF subsidiary sites, rfc-editor.org. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- TLP Interest list. General discussion on the IETF Trust and the Trust Legal Provisions for IETF Documents [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- IRTF Discussion list. This list is for discussion of topics relating to the Internet Research Task Force. In particular, this list is a forum for discussing proposals for new research groups. Conference and workshop announcements are NOT to be sent to this list. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
Each IETF meeting has four lists created just for that meeting using an easily guessable naming scheme. Meeting participants are automatically subscribed to two or more of these lists when they register for the meeting, unless they opt out. The links below are updated for the current meeting, when those lists are created.
- Meeting announcement list. Low volumes list used to send important announcements just before, during and after a meeting including the welcome email, useful location information, updates on any issues and the wrap up email. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- Participant discussion list. Where meeting participants can connect with each other regarding issues related to the meeting. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- New participants list. For participants who have attended fewer than five meetings. Used to provide specific information tailored for participants new to the IETF, including details of special events. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
- Companions list. For companions of IETF participants, to help with networking. [ Subscribe | Archive ]
Please note that messages regarding meeting issues that require the involvement of the Secretariat or meeting Network Operations Center (NOC) should be sent to the Helpdesk rather than bothering all of the other meeting participants.
IETF Community leadership groups all have private mailing lists but many of them allow any IETF participant to post to those lists so that they can provide feedback to those groups. The list below is of mailto: links for the key leadership lists:
Team lists are a mix of those that allow anyone to subscribe, and those that allow anyone to read the archive but restrict who can subscribe. See the list of active teams on Datatracker for more details.
The IETF hosts a few lists for participants to discuss and coordinate social activities. These are open to anyone and have public archives:
Requesting a new list
Lists for working groups and BoFs are created automatically and cannot be requested. All other lists are collectively known as 'Non-WG mailing lists' and a list on non-working group lists is maintained. To request a non-WG mailing list, please refer to "Non-Working Group Email List Guidelines".
There are also historical usage reports from February 2009-February 2023.