Re: IESG review of RFC Editor documents
Pete has covered most of what I would have said, but I want to
address one other issue with your comments/ suggestions.
It seems to me that at least latent in your suggestions is the
assumption that the RFC Editor should publish only IETF
consensus documents or documents that are in general agreement
with IETF consensus. My sense is almost exactly the opposite.
The IESG is not omniscient and wouldn't be omniscient even if
they had a lot more time. The IETF isn't omniscient either.
And nothing in our process, including the appeals process, is
designed to deal effectively with something that has consensus,
including IESG consensus, but is still wrong-headed.
IMO, one of the most valuable types of documents the RFC Editor
could publish would be an independent, in-depth analysis of why
some standards-track document was an operational hazard and
generally a complete crock of excrement. Now I would expect
that a very high editorial and technical standard would be
applied to the arguments of such a document. I would expect it
to be excruciatingly clear that the positions it was taking were
in disagreement with an IETF Standards-Track procedure. But I
would hope it would be publishable, and, given those document
quality standards, published, even if every single member of the
IESG disagreed with its stated position.
Clearly-stated dissent is not "harmful". Indeed, I suggest
that it is healthy. And the procedure you propose would tend to
suppress such dissent, no matter how well reasoned that dissent
More broadly, our standards process has an almost-unique
property relative to most other standards groups in the
information technology area (and relative to all of those I
would consider even moderately successful). In their processes,
there comes a point in the approval process in which people who
disagree with the proposed document are explicitly identified
along with their disagreements and, in some form, exactly what
it would take to get them to agree. Then there is a very
serious process to try to resolve the disagreements and, if that
fails, often nearly-automatic appeals on the substance of the
proposal, documentation of the disagreements, and so on. That
model has some advantages and many disadvantages but the
important thing is that we don't use it.
Instead, we use the notion of "rough consensus" to essentially
run over dissent by small minorities, even small minority
dissent that is well-reasoned and has significant merit. And
our appeals is useless in dealing with that issue because the
"rough consensus" really does exist. And that makes the ability
for the dissenters to write a dissent, and have it published in
near proximity to the official/standard specification, really
important to preserving the openness and honesty of the system.
Without it, all sorts of theories about cabals become very
Now we haven't used that mechanism very much. In my personal
opinion, we haven't used it nearly often enough -- especially in
the last several years, the losing dissenters have tended to
just go away rather than documenting their positions --but that
is another issue. But taking it away, which I think your
suggestion would ultimately do, could ultimately be extremely
harmful to our standardization model.
--On Friday, 26 March, 2004 16:21 -0500 Keith Moore
Okay, I read draft-iesg-rfced-documents-00.txt regarding a
proposed change in IESG policy regarding RFC-Ed documents.
I'm opposed to the change, because I believe it would make it
too easy for harmful documents to be published as RFCs.