Title:The Structured Commons Enhancement Proposal Process
Last modified:2014-06-16 00:43:06 UTC (Mon, 16 June 2014)
Author:Structured Commons Technical Steering Committee
Source:scep0001.rst (fp:7VbmCLSGV0sIDQiiyk9_NV2n0-d5Nwnlwc0wG31qT93vFQ)

What is a SCEP

SCEP stands for Structured Commons Enhancement Proposal. A SCEP is a design document providing information to the Structured Commons community, or describing a new feature for the Structured Commons methods and protocols. The SCEP should provide a concise technical specification of the feature and a rationale for the feature.

We intend SCEPs to be the primary mechanisms for proposing new features, for collecting community input on an issue, and for documenting the design decisions that have gone into Structured Commons. The SCEP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions.

Because the SCEPs are maintained as reStructured text files in a versioned repository, their revision history is the historical record of the feature proposal [1]. The list of all defined SCEPs is maintained as SCEP 0 [3].

SCEP Types

There are three kinds of SCEP:

  1. A Standards Track SCEP describes an extension to one of the Structured Commons protocols, or a change in the behavior of one of the actors in these protocols.
  2. An Informational SCEP describes a Structured Commons design issue, or provides general guidelines or information to the Structured Commons community, but does not propose an extension. Informational SCEPs do not necessarily represent a Structured Commons community consensus or recommendation, so users and implementors are free to ignore Informational SCEPs or follow their advice.
  3. A Process SCEP describes a process surrounding the Structured Commons, or proposes a change to (or an event in) a process. Process SCEPs are like Standards Track SCEPs but apply to areas other than the Structured Commons protocols. They are more than recommendations, and users are typically not free to ignore them. Examples include release schedules, procedures, guidelines, changes to the decision-making process, and changes to the tools or environment used in Structured Commons development.

SCEP Work Flow

The SCEP editors assign SCEP numbers and change their status. Please send all SCEP-related email to <>.

The SCEP process begins with a new idea for the Structured Commons protocols. It is highly recommended that a single SCEP contain a single key proposal. The SCEP editor reserves the right to reject SCEP proposals if they appear unfocussed or overly broad. If in doubt, split your SCEP into muliple SCEPs.

Each SCEP must have a champion — someone who writes the SCEP using the style and format described below, shepherds the discussions in the appropriate forums, and attempts to build community consensus around the idea. The SCEP champion should first post a description of the idea to the SCEPs mailing list at:

If the champion believes the idea warrants a SCEP then the champion emails the SCEP editor <> with a proposed title and a draft of the SCEP. This draft must be written in SCEP style as described below.

If the SCEP editor approves, he assigns the SCEP a number, labels it as Standards Track, Informational, or Process, gives it status "Draft", and creates and checks-in the initial draft of the SCEP to the subversion repository. The SCEP editor will not unreasonably deny a SCEP. Reasons for denying SCEP status include duplication of effort, being technically unsound, not providing proper motivation or not addressing backwards compatibility. The Structured Commons Technical Steering Committee can be consulted during the approval phase, and is the final arbiter of the draft’s SCEP-ability.

If a pre-SCEP is rejected, the author may elect to take the pre-SCEP to the SCEP forum seeking feedback and consesnsus from the community at large. A proposal may be re-submitted after it has been revised.

The champion is then responsible for marshaling community support for it. As updates are necessary, the SCEP author can check in new versions if they have commit permissions on the SCEP repository, or can email new SCEP versions to the SCEP editors for committing.

Standards Track SCEPs consist of two parts, a design document and a reference implementation. The reference implementation need not be complete when a SCEP is submitted to the editors. However Standards Track SCEPs must include an implementation with publicy available code before it can be considered Final.

SCEP champions are responsible for collecting community feedback on a SCEP before submitting it for review. A SCEP that has not been discussed in the Structured Commons mailing lists will not be accepted. However, wherever possible, long open-ended discussions in the mailing list should be avoided. Strategies to keep the discussions efficient include: setting up a separate SIG forum for the topic, having the SCEP author accept private comments in the early design phases, setting up a wiki page, etc. SCEP authors should use their discretion here.

Once the authors have completed a SCEP, they must inform the SCEP editors that it is ready for review. SCEPs are reviewed by the Technical Steering Committee, who may accept or reject a SCEP or send it back to the author(s) for revision. For a SCEP that is pre-determined to be acceptable (e.g., it is an obvious win as-is and/or its implementation already exists) the Technical Steering Committee may also initiate a SCEP review, first notifying the SCEP author(s) and giving them a chance to make revisions.

For a SCEP to be accepted it must meet certain minimum criteria. It must be a clear and complete description of the proposed enhancement. The enhancement must represent a net improvement. The proposed implementation, if applicable, must be functional and have been tested in a live environment. Supporting results from analyses, testbed experiments and event-based simulations are also recommended where appropriate. A Standards Track document should include the rationale behind a proposal and may briefly summarize analytical, simulation, or experimental results where necessary to illustrate or motivate the enhancement. However, detailed analytical, simulation, and experiment results, especially comparing different approaches to the same problem should be omitted from Standards Track SCEPs and instead cited from a published paper or a separate Informational SCEP.

Once a SCEP has been accepted, the reference implementation must be completed. When the reference implementation is complete and accepted by the BDFL, the status will be changed to "Final".

A SCEP can also be assigned status "Deferred". The SCEP author or editor can assign the SCEP this status when no progress is being made on the SCEP. Once a SCEP is deferred, the SCEP editor can re-assign it to draft status.

A SCEP can also be "Rejected". Perhaps after all is said and done it was not a good idea. It is still important to have a record of this fact.

SCEPs can also be replaced by a different SCEP, rendering the original obsolete. This is intended for Informational SCEPs, where e.g. version 2 of an API can replace version 1.

Intellectual Property and Structured Commons Standards

Any idea submitted in a SCEP will not be considered for standardization if the idea is not in the public domain. Before a SCEP can be considered Final, all people (including the SCEP authors) or entities with a claim on the intellectual property expressed in a SCEP must assign in writing all intellectual property expressed in the SCEP to the public domain. If the SCEP authors lack the power to assign intellectual property rights then they must disclose this fact before the SCEP can be considered Final.

Furthermore SCEP authors should not knowingly propose anything in their SCEPs that infringes on the intellectual property rights of others.

This policy statement should not be construed as meaning that SCEP authors are required to assign software implementations of any particular idea to the public domain. Structured Commons implementors may retain all rights to their implementations.


This document was derived heavily from PEP-0001 [2]. In many places text was simply copied and modified. Although the PEP-0001 text was written by Barry Warsaw, Jeremy Hylton, and David Goodger, they are not responsible for its use in the Structured Commons Enhancement Process, and should not be bothered with technical questions specific to Structured Commons or the SCEP process. Please direct all comments to the SCEP editors <> or the mailing list at: