Response to WG last call, Problem Statement: Thoughts on the
IETF problem statement
rsnively at brocade.com
Fri Nov 21 17:42:13 CET 2003
You asked a very difficult question:
> 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?
I believe that there are multiple interlocking issues here. As you can
see below, if you accept goals of scalability, improved responsiveness,
and higher productivity, then each of the areas of change contributes
in its own way.
I believe that the centralized technical review process should
become a centralized procedural review process. That involves
delegation of the technical excellence of a standard to the working
and consistency with other standards to the liaison activities
of the working group. After the working group and the formal
liaison groups are happy with the technical content, a final
widely-announced public review period could pick up any other
The meeting schedules and agendas should be modified to reflect such
new organizational grouping. Fewer large plenaries and more
multi-day working group level meetings could usefully accelerate the
For improved responsiveness:
Much of the task scheduling, meeting scheduling, choice of
teleconferencing techniques and other work procedures should
be done principally at or near the working group level.
For higher productivity:
In addition to the shifting of technical responsibility to
the working group and its liaisons, verified by a broader
public review, the following actions can improve productivity.
Documented minutes of meeting and teleconference discussions
with documented records of voting actions taken would help to
circular discussion and the reopening of resolved issues.
To do this, voting membership and voting procedures have to
be defined. Letter ballots using e-mail or web-based systems
may also be useful to promote closure of last-calls.
Voting membership should be earned by some combination of
nominal sliding fees and participation requirements, possibly
by organizational affinity. Participation should otherwise be
completely open. Voting on key issues should be by some sort
of supermajority more meaningful than humming. Resolution of
technical comments, including those
coming from outside public review, should be granted
very high priority in the procedures.
These thoughts are not new or magical, but perhaps they can serve
as a catalyst for an even better IETF.
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