The Web We Weave: Untangling the Social Graph of the IETF


  • Prashant Khare Queen Mary University of London
  • Mladen Karan Queen Mary University of London
  • Stephen McQuistin University of Glasgow
  • Colin Perkins University of Glasgow
  • Gareth Tyson Queen Mary University of London Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
  • Matthew Purver Queen Mary University of London Jožef Stefan Institute
  • Patrick Healey Queen Mary University of London
  • Ignacio Castro Queen Mary University of London



Social network analysis; communities identification; expertise and authority discovery, Centrality/influence of social media publications and authors, Organizational and group behavior mediated by social media; interpersonal communication mediated by social media


The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has developed many of the technical standards that underpin the Internet. The standards development process followed by the IETF is open and consensus-driven, but is inherently both a social and political activity, and latent influential structures might exist within the community. Exploring and understanding these structures is essential to ensuring the IETF’s resilience and openness. We use network analysis to explore the social graph of IETF participants, based on public email discussions and co-author relationships, and the influence of key contributors. We show that a small core of participants dominates: the top 10% contribute almost half (43.75%) of the emails and come from a relatively small group of organisations. On the other hand, we also find that influence has become relatively more decentralised with time. IETF participants also propose and work on drafts that are either adopted by a working group for further refinement or get rejected at an early stage. Using the social graph features combined with email text features, we perform regression analysis to understand the effect of user influence on the success of new work being adopted by the IETF. Our findings shed useful insights into the behavior of participants across time, correlation between influence and success in draft adoption, and the significance of affiliated organisations in the authorship of drafts.




How to Cite

Khare, P., Karan, M., McQuistin, S., Perkins, C., Tyson, G., Purver, M., Healey, P., & Castro, I. (2022). The Web We Weave: Untangling the Social Graph of the IETF. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 16(1), 500-511.