Papers and Mailings

Papers and Mailings

Technical contributions to be discussed in committee are written up as N-numbered papers. Papers should be in HTML, PDF, or text format. Each paper should begin with a WG21 document number, date in ISO format (yyyy-mm-dd), title, and author information.

Per dead-tree-era ISO and ANSI/INCITS rules, papers are grouped into mailings, so called because in the 20th century they were physical papers distributed by postal mail before and after each face-to-face meeting, although today they are distributed electronically only as ZIP/TAR files of HTML/TXT/PDF papers.

The pre-meeting mailing contains papers to be considered at the upcoming meeting. Several weeks before each face-to-face meeting, there is a deadline for papers that are considered on time for the pre-meeting mailing. At meetings, priority is given to on-time papers that were in the mailing, which means that participants have had time to absorb them and in particular national body experts who were not able to attend the face-to-face meeting have had a chance to caucus with their representatives and send them to the meeting with positions and instructions.

The post-meeting mailing contains updated papers approved at the meeting, as well as other late and intra-meeting papers whether adopted or not.

Streamed Mailings: "Standardization" Category

Committee papers are now being linked to via the blog as soon as they’re submitted, without needing to wait for official "mailings" batches of papers. (Note that, formally, this is in addition to, not instead of, the usual regular mailings.)

You can follow the Standardization blog category, or All Posts, to see all of the following in near-real time as soon as they're available:

  • Pre-release drafts of papers (with authors' permission).
  • Final papers submitted for the next mailing.
  • Entire mailings themselves presented in a web-friendly way; see here for an example.

The goal is to enable lower latency, better iteration between meetings, and broader public comment. The public can comment on papers on the blog post that announces them, or by starting a thread on std-discussion or std-proposals.

What Papers Are Discussed at Meetings?


"What happens to papers posted after the pre-meeting mailing but before the meeting itself? Do they get discussed in the meeting as if it was a pre-meeting mailing paper?"

A: In practice, we’re reasonable: Subgroup chairs give priority to on-time papers, but they can also discuss late papers. Sometimes late and even intra-meeting papers are just updates to previously discussed papers, and we always want to get the latest useful information.

Just please try to avoid lobbing in a new proposal at the last minute. The problem with having such "new" late papers (as opposed to updates of previous papers) arrive at the last minute is that participants -- including .16 company members and WG21 national body members who aren’t present in person at the meeting -- need to have a chance to digest and discuss them beforehand and form an informed position and give useful feedback, so that .16 voting members and NB experts and heads of delegation who attend the meeting are able to reasonably represent their constituencies and make good use of time at meetings. When we’re prepared, we waste less valuable face-to-face time on wheel-spinning trying to get traction.

So if you're writing a WG21 paper, aim to make your paper an on-time paper in the pre-meeting mailing so that everyone has a chance to caucus and absorb it. Your reward is that you know it will be considered at the meeting. However, we’re also usually glad to get papers right up to the meeting -- but the later or larger or more novel the paper, the less likely it is to be allocated discussion time at the meeting.