comments: - Re: WG last call - process document

Alex Conta aconta at
Tue Nov 18 23:46:49 CET 2003

Here are a few comments regarding "draft-ietf-problem-process-03.txt" 
document. The comments are related to the comments submitted for the 
"problem description" document. Comments are marked "minor" and "major".

a. Major

Section 4.6 "Decomposition of the Management Scaling Problem"
mentions the possible negative effect of a small pool of people from 
where IESG and IAB memebers are elected. However it does not mention the 
same negative effect in case of too few people taking WG chairmanship, 
or having one person chairing for too long a WG. If it is a problem at 
AD level, it is also a problem at the lower level as well. Possible fix 
is virtual, or by statute, term limits.

b. Major

The same section (4.6) is addressing the procedural blockage caused by 
ADs, but it is not addressing the procedural blockage problems caused by 
impartial WG chairs. It should.

c. Major

In discussing solutions, the same section (4.6) mentions the I-D 
tracker, but as a tool, this is just a beginning, by far not sufficient 
in resolving the process management tools shortage. While a lot more can 
be done in terms of automating the process and the using of tools, there 
is a lot to do, as well, in timely reaching the people that are 
interested in the moving forward of a document: the authors should be 
notified about the progress of a draft - this should be done 
automatically by the tools, at each step that a draft takes in IESG.


Furthemore, section 4.6, has the suggestion of delegating more work to 
the WG chairs. This is problematic from start. First, because the WH 
chairs are not democratically elected. Second, because the IETF rules do 
not stop them from vesting interest in work performed in the WG - WG 
chairs may be authors or co-authors of drafts in the WG, which may cause 
them favor drafts that do not challenge or are aligned with their own 

e. Major

This section (4.6) 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.

f.  Major

Section 4.7 "Decomposition of the Working Group Practices Problem"
does not list the problem caused by the vested interest of WG chairs
in promoting or favoring a certain direction in the WG. (this problem 
was mentioned also above in the context of section 4.6).

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.

Alex Conta

Melinda Shore wrote:
> This is to announce the start of working group last call for
> "IETF Problem Resolution Process"
> (
> Last call closes on Monday, 1 December 2003.  Please send any
> comments to the mailing list before last call closes.
> Melinda
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