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Re: Possible RFC 3683 PR-action

2008-03-25 07:42:29
I've been carefully not posting in this thread for a while, but can't 
control myself today. (So I'm not particularly arguing with Ted's points, 
his e-mail is just the the latest e-mail in the thread)

My apologies in advance.

As Ted said, "in theory, all decisions are supposed to be confirmed on the 
mailing list", but I haven't seen anyone point out the reason why - because 
we also think it's important to have very few barriers to participation in 
the IETF, so we don't require attendance at any face-to-face meeting, ever.

So I'm not sure how we verify identities when anyone we question can just 
post from an e-mail account at an ISP in Tierra del Fuego, and say "the next 
time you're in the tip of South America, come by and verify my identity".

Harald's algorithm ("must prove that you exist to SOMEbody") might be the 
best alternative available, but it does back away from "anybody, anywhere 
can participate".

We're not good at writing process text, and I would especially appreciate it 
if whatever mechanism we finally approve doesn't require participants to 
post under their "legal name" - I do not; I don't use my first name, and 
"Spencer" is my middle name.

So my suggestion is that the community spend a little more time trying to 
figure out

o how widespread, and how frequent, a problem this is,

o how much damage Spencer and 100 sock puppets can actually cause,

o whether this damage is important enough to justify IESG time fixing the 
situation, and finally

o how much MORE damage "Spencer and 100 sock puppets" can cause than 
"Spencer and 100 meat puppets[1]" can cause.

I'm guessing that people who would be offended by "Spencer and 100 invisible 
friends" would react the same way if

o I hired 100 unemployed Bear Sterns executives to post "Spencer is right, 
you should do X" on the mailing list, or if

o I asked 100 friends to do the same thing from their work e-mail addresses, 
or if

o I go to another engineering society and ask 100 of THEM to do the same 
thing from their work e-mail addresses (and we've already had to deal with 
this, most recently with a letter-writing campaign explaining to us that we 
must not approve standards with patented technology)

... but at some level, if you're going to prevent DoS attacks from sock 
puppets, you'll need to be prepared to do the same thing when "meat puppets" 

The IETF is still a meritocracy, not a democracy. Bad ideas are still bad 
ideas, even if lots of people have them. Binary numbering still uses two 
values (zero and one), no matter how many drafts say something else.

Working group chairs have two responsibilities - to be fair, and to make 
progress. When these responsibilities collide, it's not going to be pretty, 
but Russ's point - we actually do know how to resolve conflicts in the 
IETF - is critical, because the alternative is that work just stops.

Sometimes we just need to make a decision and move on. If you were right, 
but couldn't convince the WG chair(s), AD, IESG or IAB that you were right, 
and couldn't convince enough people to sign a recall petition - well, next 
time, do a better job of convincing convincing people.

IMO, of course.

Spencer, who should probably be posting as "Sanson"...

[1] I mean "real people", of course.

we had this exact problem with the many identities of "Jeff
Williams"; he had enough pseudo-personalities on the list that he
would sometimes claim to have a majority, jut from his own postings.

Since IETF does not vote, it is certainly not an issue here?

Well, it can be an issue in terms of determining rough consensus.
Suppose you have 100 sock puppets all with gmail or hotmail accounts,
all claiming that some approach which all of the key technologists and
experts in the field and RFC authors have rejected, is really the
right way to go.  We can do straw polls in face to face meetings, but
in theory, all decisions are supposed to be confirmed on the mailing

Suppose 100 (presumed) sock puppets who all just happen to have the
same fracturered logic and writing styles as JFC show up on LTRU and
claim that they are driving consensus.  RFC 3683 evasion aside, it
could certainly cause cause problems for a working group chair who is
trying to determine consensus, such that said chair might want to
confirm whether or not 100 posters to the mailing list, all with
pseudonyms derived from the name of of French pioneers/heros, were in
fact distinct people.

After all, they could all argue that the nonsense they are spouting is
in fact deep received wisdom, and it's a minority of the working group
who don't understand their reasoning, and so therefore the positions
of their Great Leader JFC, is in fact rough consensus.   :-) 

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