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Re: Confirming vs. second-guessing

2008-03-18 05:20:13
On Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:38:20PM -0700, Fred Baker wrote:
It sounds like you would rather get rid of the nomcom and have the  
confirming body do the work from the start.

It's interesting to note that this would mean reverting our processes
back to the pre-1993 days, back when the IAB *did* pick the IESG.  One
of the reasons why the Nomcom was created, way back then, was because
of the July 4, 1992 fireworks (as I believe Vint Cerf termed them) on
the IETF list.  I've also heard it referred to as the "Boston Tea
Party" of the IETF.

To quote from Christian Huitema's, "Network Protocols and Standards"
as to what happened:

     We thought that our wording was very careful, and we were
     prepared to discuss it and try to convince the Internet
     community. Then, everything accelerated. Some journalists got the
     news, an announcement was hastily written, and many members of
     the community felt betrayed. They perceived that we were selling
     the Internet to the ISO and that headquarters was simply giving
     the field to an enemy that they had fought for many years and
     eventually vanquished. The IAB had no right to make such a
     decision alone. Besides, CLNP was a pale imitation of IP. It had
     been designed 10 years before, and the market had failed to pick
     it up for all those years. Why should we try to resurrect it?
     The IAB announcement was followed by a tremendous hubbub in the
     Internet's electronic lists. The IAB draft was formally withdrawn
     a few weeks later, during the July 1992 meeting of the Internet
     Engineering Task Force (IETF). The incident triggered a serious
     reorganization of the whole IETF decision process, revising the
     role of managing bodies such as the Internet Engineering Steering
     Group (IESG) or the Internet Architecture Board, the new
     appellation of the IAB.

At the time, there was a feeling that the IAB was "out of touch", and
that the Nomcom selection process was a better way of getting
community consensus about the engineering leadership than the previous
scheme where the IAB was a self-perpetuating body which selected the
IESG.  For a long time, given how hard the IAB had been slapped down,
it pretty much let the Nomcom do most of the work, and when I
submitted the 2001-2002 Nomcom report to the confirming bodies, what
we provided was a brief resume and a short "testament" summarizing the
deliberations and reasoning behind the choice (in most cases it was a
paragraph or two).  At least for the years when I was on Nomcom, the
IAB did not request access to any of the questionaires or comments
from the community; all we provided was 2-3 paragraphs describing some
of the concerns and summarizing at a high level what the concerns
which drove us to replace an incumbent and why we chose a particular
new AD.

It seems that since then, the IAB has been more assertive about
wanting more information, and I really think we need to consider where
the line is between performing due diligence and "redoing the work of
the NOMCOM".  I personally like the line that we drew in the early
2000's; we told the confirming bodies the issues about why IESG or IAB
members were not returned to the body, and why we picked new members.
The confirming bodies asked us if we had considered certain issues,
and we had to draft a response when went into more detail, but that
was about it.

I have heard it said that the IETF, in the most recent discussion  
that failed up update that portion of what we now call 3777, had a  
90/10 consensus and didn't come to a perfect consensus. I think we  
have to say what the role and reach of the confirming body is, which  
may require us to think hard about what it means to have "rough  

I'm not sure it was 90/10 consensus; at least in this recent
discussion, there certainly have been a rather wide range of opinions
on this list, from people like Mike St. John's with one view, and
Steve Kent with another.

                                                - Ted
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