comments - Re: WG last call - problem description document

Alex Conta aconta at
Tue Nov 18 23:00:58 CET 2003

Here are a few comments regarding
"draft-ietf-problem-issue-statement-05.txt"  document. They are marked 
"minor" and "major".

a. Minor

Section titles are too long, too specific in describing a problem, which 
becomes ennoying when the text in the body of the section does NOT 
follow the title.

For instance, the name "The IETF Management Structure is not Matched to 
the Current Size and Complexity of the IETF" of Section 2.6 does not 
reflect adequately the content of all its subsections. For instance 
"Procedural Blockages" subsection 2.6.3 may have little to do with a 
mismatch between the size and complexity of the IETF Management structure.

A possible solution is shortening the section names, for instance:

  "Participants in the IETF do not have a Common Understanding of the 
its Mission.

change to:
"the Understanding of the IETF Mission"

"The IETF Management Structure is not Matched to the Current Size and 
Complexity of the IETF"

change to:
"the IETF Management Structure"

b.  Major

subsection 2.6.3 is addressing "procedural blockage"  at the IESG (Area 
Director) level. This is not the only "procedural blockage". The 
document should address the same type of problem at WG (WG Chair) level 
as well. This should be done either in the same subsection, or in a new 

The cause of such WG procedural blockage problem can be multiple, but 
one that may be encountered in IETF, more often than it should, is when 
a chair, or both chairs have vested interest in directing the work on a 
certain path. This happens often when a chair or the chairs of a WG are 
directly involved in writing drafts for that WG. In some WGs, the chairs 
are authors or co-authors of a large number of drafts or RFCs; in such 
cases, it is likely that they will favor work or drafts that are not 
challenging, or are in alignment with their documents.

In many Standards Development Organizations, for limiting the cause of 
such impartiality, a WG chair's role excludes participation or 
authorship of drafts, and it is rather limited to moderating the WG 
meetings, and driving the WG process along, according to the 
organization's rules. Perhaps this is a rule that IETF should adopt.

c. Major

subsection 2.6.6 "Concentration of Influence in Too Few Hands"
mentions the possible negative effect of too long continuity in IESG and 
IAB memebership. However it does not mention the same negative effect in 
case of too long continuity in WG chairmanship. Possible fix is 
virtual, or by statute, term limits for WG chairs.

This subsection should address also the perception that the WG chair 
selection is not an open process, or not as open as it should be.  WG
members have in general no saying in chair selecting, or in making a 
choice between several candidates.

Alex Conta

Melinda Shore wrote:
> This is to announce the beginning of working group last call for
> "IETF Problem Statement"  
> ( 
> statement-05.txt).
> Last call closes on Monday, 24 November 2003.  Please send comments to
> the mailing, and note that we're not kidding about the closing date.
> Melinda
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