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RE: IONs & discuss criteria

2008-03-07 12:47:05
Thomas, et al,

        Please see one (set of) comment(s) below...

Eric Gray
Principal Engineer

-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-bounces(_at_)ietf(_dot_)org 
[mailto:ietf-bounces(_at_)ietf(_dot_)org] On 
Behalf Of Thomas Narten
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 2:18 PM
To: Lakshminath Dondeti
Cc: ietf(_at_)ietf(_dot_)org; iesg(_at_)ietf(_dot_)org
Subject: Re: IONs & discuss criteria

Lakshminath Dondeti <ldondeti(_at_)qualcomm(_dot_)com> writes:

I have reviewed documents as a Gen-ART reviewer (during 
Brian's tenure I 
think), sec-dir reviewer and also provided IETF LC comments on some 
documents.  As a reviewer, I am not sure whether I was 
expecting answers 
all those times.  I am pretty sure I have not always stated 
whether or 
not the answers are satisfactory.

On this one point.

IMO, one of the biggest causes of problems (and most under-appreciated
process weakness) in the IETF (and any consensus based organization
for that matter) is poor handling of review comments.

The ideal way to deal with them is to always respond, and to get an "I
am satisfied with your response" to close  the thread. Anything else
runs the risk of:

 - author says "I dealt with those comments in the revised ID", with
   the reviewer saying "Nope, I was ignored".

 - author says "I dealt with those comments in the revised ID", and
   this actually was the case, except that they accidentally missed
   one or two important issues. Reviewer is left wondering "was I
   blown off, or was this just an oversight, or..."

 - author thinking they are "done", because they "responded on the
   list". But, no changes in the document and/or reviewer is still not

 - reviewer having invested a not-insignificant amount of time doing a
   quality review feeling "what's the point", which doesn't help to
   motivate a volunteer organization. This is  especially problematic
   from the cross-area review perspective.

Actually both of these last points are especially problematic from a
generalist review perspective.  Those of us doing Gen-ART reviews can
not possibly subscribe to every list and it is sometimes (often?) the
case that some of the review comments are discussed at great length
on the mailing list - completely (though unintentionally) leaving the 
commenter out of it.

In addition to raising the "what's the point" attitude flag, this can
even lead to the feeling that the comments actually went black-hole
surfing, possibly even leading to those harrassing trouble tickets for
lost E-Mail our IT people love to see so much.  This is very disturbing
given the non-insignificant amount of effort occasionally involved in
just trying to understand a draft enough to make (presumed) intelligent
comments about it and not even getting a sense of whether or not you
actually succeeded.

Minimally, as one of the people to whom that has happened, it would be
nice if at least an initial ("thanks for the review and comments") mail
included the commenter, in every case.  Even a "I wish you would stop 
bothering us with all of these silly comments" would be a response.  
Of course, I presonally would prefer that that sort of response was not 
addressed to the list, with or without me on it.  :-)

By the way, I agree with the comments below on issue tracker usage, and
I feel there must have been some significant, noticeable, improvements
in draft processing since they started being used.  Perhaps with more
(and wider) education on what is available, the gains may be even more

Repeat above several times and intersperse with long periods of time
where nothing happens on a document. You now have an idea of why it
seems to take a long time to get documents through the system.

One of the reasons I'm such a fan of issue trackers is that it tends
to remove a lot of the above stuff by simply not allowing stuff to
fall through the cracks. Sure, trackers have overhead and are overkill
in some cases. But if one could somehow analyze the number of
documents that have been delayed for some time due to poor handling of
review comments...

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