Response to WG last call, Problem Statement: Thoughts on the IETF problem statement

Alex Rousskov rousskov at
Thu Nov 20 22:09:26 CET 2003

On Thu, 20 Nov 2003, Robert Snively wrote:

> No matter how you count it, it costs real money to participate in
> IETF.  At a minimum, it costs $100 for a used computer and $20/month
> for an internet connection, plus a roof and electricity.

It costs real money (or their equivalent) to live, of course.

> None of these fees are prohibitive compared with the other costs of
> participation, but these fees are sufficient to formalize the
> separation between those who are members and those who participate
> as a matter of less serious interest or as a social activity.

The above statement sounds like a contradiction to me. If we assume it
costs a lot more to participate than the official fee, the official
fee becomes irrelevant. In other words, IETF fee structure is already
close to the others you mention, without the money-collecting
overheads; it already provides the separation you desire.  However,
let's ignore that contradiction for now. There are two related
questions then:
  - Is formal separation required to achieve quality standards?
    What makes it an essential feature?
  - Are official fees the best way to achieve formal separation?
    Do IETF mailing lists provide enough formal separation?

> Having a defined membership and voting pool, together with a
> formalized and documented voting system, eliminates a significant
> amount of the technical churn present in IETF activities.

What mechanism do IEEE and other cheap SDOs have from preventing, say,
Cisco or Microsoft from registering thousands of voting members to
control a given working group? They certainly have the resources
required. What protects minority in a voting-based SDO? Some kind of
count-based (rather than portion-based) appeal process?

I believe that IETF essentially has formal membership (mailing lists
are rosters). What it does not have is formal commitments. I know W3C
has commitments, but W3C membership is not affordable and not tailored
to individuals. What about IEEE and INCITS? Do they require
time/effort commitment from their members?

You have mentioned several distinct areas of change:
	- formal membership
	- voting procedures
	- working group control

Is it possible for you to indicate the relative importance of those?
For example, if we manage to address working group control issues
without formal membership and voting, do you think we can get close
enough to your ideal?

Thank you,


P.S. My questions is an attempt to separate important/essential
     "ideal" SDO properties from "common" SDO properties so that we
     can ignore marketing/perception issues and do a focused
     comparison with IETF.

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