I have been trying to be mostly in listening mode, but I'd like to
provide my personal perspective on the process issues.
1/ Openness of process
I don't mind having my mistakes pointed out, but I rather fear
I'm being accused of not having lived up to a promise I didn't
make. Here's what I actually said on August 27 (on this list
-- anyone who wants the whole message can dig it up in
"We are in agreement that key strategic decisions have to be made
with the informed consent of the community. Harald and I have
made the commitment to put as much on the table as is possible
to have a rational open discussion that should come before that consent
phase. That's the commitment that brought this document out,
and it will continue to surface material input if, as, and when
it comes to light. "
And I'm comfortable in asserting this is what we've done.
Have subsets of the IAB & IESG had discussions about this
material? Yup. That's what brought us Scenario O and the
revised Scenario C. To the list. For public discussion.
Have there been other private discussions with various &
sundry folk? Yup. And there will be more. Are we inking deals at
private breakfast meetings? No. If, as, and when private
discussions develop to a point that they can produce concrete
material for discussion/impacting directions, we will put it out
probably with a statement outlining how we see it fits into
the discussional puzzle, and possibly with a recommendation for
action on it.
In my opinion, as someone who's been trying to walk the fine line
between getting people informed to the point of being able to
participate in decision discussions (without boring them to
tears, as some folk evidently are...), and have something
vaguely reminiscent of a convergent decision process, that's
about as good as we can get.
2/ Qualifications of IAB/IESG members, [Ll]eadership
The IAB & IESG members are selected to oversee/run parts of the
IETF process. The folks I've seen in the roles take that
responsibility pretty seriously. Apart from everything else,
it means that they see more of the inner workings of the IETF process,
because they have operational experience in trying to get stuff to
happen within it, at a meta-level from what document editors
and WG chairs do. They can tell when the processes aren't working.
I argue further that they therefore have some sense of what changes
would integrate into the functioning system. Does that make them MBA's?
Nope. Does that make them god-like? Nope.
In my opinion, that does make a reasonable filter function.
That is -- we (IAB & IESG) have been collecting data from
all over, including hired professional input (see, eg,
Carl's document) and the IETF working community itself.
We're weighing it, within the context of the above-stated
responsibilities and perspectives. We've committed to putting
it back out to the community in the shape of a recommendation
that you can make sense of based on the raw data that you've
got to hand. That means everyone gets a voice, though not
a vote (the poll helped convince us that people are paying
attention, even if they're not posting... that was real
data for *us*, anyway!).
So -- I do believe NomCom selected folks are able to credibly
lead this process for change, as long as they know the boundaries
of their own competences and solicit additional input where
needed. I believe that's true for the overall process discussed
here, and I personally believe it's the appropriate guiding
principle for the role of the IETF & IAB Chair positions in any future
P.S.: Don't think I quite made the A4 limit...
John C Klensin wrote:
I'm obviously not being successful at explaining what I'm
concerned about it and my getting this deeply drawn into this
whole discussion violates a promise I made to myself some time
ago, which was to concentrate my IETF time on only those things
in which I had a strong technical interest and was convinced
would go somewhere. So, having posted the "clerk's office"
note, which I think ought to be much more relevant and important
than this one, I give up. Three parting observations:
(1) I actually agree with the conclusion that seems to
be emerging. I am worried, deeply, about means and
process, not about ends and results.
(2) The Nomcom process is good for many things, but has
repeatedly and convincingly demonstrated that it is not
effective in "curing" the IESG or IAB of particular
forms of bad behavior. It has been especially
ineffective at curing behavior consistent with the
belief that the "leadership" is in control of the
organization rather than a reflector, facilitator, and
determiner of consensus. That is either a problem or
not, depending on whether we care: it has often been
observed that most organizations end up with the
leadership they deserve, regardless of the selection
mechanisms used to pick them.
(3) We claim to not believe in voting or Kings, but in
rough consensus, running code, and an extremely open
process. So we are trying to make decisions by counting
"votes" in not-particularly-well-crafted polls. The
IAB and IESG continue to appoint secret (i.e., not
announced and minuted) committees to hold secret (i.e.,
not announced in advance to the community) meetings,
despite promises in San Diego that this would stop. And
I think you and others are arguing, with the very best
of intentions, that leadership groups, who have not been
selected using criteria that include qualifications
needed to make these sorts of administrative/legal
decisions, and who have never been authorized by the
community to do so, should now go off and make precisely
those decisions -- decisions that might include options
with which the IETF community has no experience and
which the experience of other bodies has proven very
Especially about the third issue, I see serious contradictions
with what we claim to be our principles and with what
distinguishes the IETF from the typical, goer-dominated,
"procedures are more important than content", standards body. I
think that is far more serious than the outcome of these
particular "decisions". If we change things by giving up the
"no voting", "no kings", "rough _community_ consensus", and
"openness" principles and start ignoring experience comparable
to running code (or the lack thereof) in favor of ideological
arguments, then the particular experiment that is the IETF
itself is over, regardless of what particular decisions are made
in this case and regardless of how long "over" takes to become
I wish I were wrong, but I'm just out of energy for these
--On Sunday, 03 October, 2004 15:54 +0200 Eliot Lear
I agree with you that there is reason to be concerned about a
group of technical people who are not lawyers having to make
decisions about the organization. However, I don't see delay
at this point in time assisting our cause. In fact, the
general membership of the IETF (whatever that means) has very
few lawyers, and probably very few MBAs. One would have to
wait a LONG time for community consensus. As it is I question
the validity of the poll answers simply based on the
qualifications of the respondents to answer. Rather I hope
that the considerably smaller group has been consulting
subject matter experts on the best ways to go forward.
As I responded to Margaret, if you want me to lawyer up, fine
but that costs time and quite frankly which one of 0 or M (or
any other) gets chosen doesn't seem worth waiting. That a
decision gets made by people we in fact empowered through the
NOMCOM process (the IAB & IESG) seems to me more important.
If you do not like the decision you have every right to make
your displeasure known to the NOMCOM. And If the
[Ll]eadership of this organization screws up badly enough, the
Internet Community *WILL* route around the damage. It's
happened before. That's how W3C came to be.
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