Cross-Area Review (was: Fwd: RE: A follow up question

John C Klensin john-ietf at
Fri Apr 25 14:04:32 CEST 2003

--On Friday, 25 April, 2003 09:53 -0700 James Kempf 
<kempf at> wrote:

> John,
>> This is interesting, because my sense has been that
>> directorates can often be part of the problem.  The
>> difficulty is that, if a particular proposal is carefully
>> reviewed within a relevant area directorate, or a cross-area
>> one, there may be a certain amount of circling of the wagons
>> against criticisms/objections from "outside".
> Circling of the wagons by the proposing WG or the reviewing
> directorate?

Uh... yes.  Although I had the directorate in mind, because WGs 
that are really sensitive to these issues usually figure out a 
way to get appropriate input and not have the problem.

> Actually, my experience with directorates is not so much that
> they get a yes or no decision as that they  can provide the
> ADs with advice and serve as a forum where WG chairs can talk
> informally about cross WG issues. There is no formal place for
> this in IETF at the moment, and it often leads to system and
> architectural design problems (as we've discussed in the past).

Those WG, and WG chair, discussions tend to be intra-area, just 
because of the way we set up and define directorates. 
Sometimes that gets cross area feedback into the system, but I 
certainly would not predict it unless the AD includes people 
with different perspectives in the directorate and those people 
decide to work hard and consistently and really do represent a 
broad-spectrum view from other areas or focuses.  I.e., it 
reproduces the IESG problem at larger scale.

>> The problem is a bit similar to the one I think we have seen
>> with ADs sometimes becoming (or being forced to become)
>> advocates for particular documents rather than careful and
>> objective evaluators.
> The primary difficulty I've seen with directorates is that WG
> members don't know who they are, and they are often cited as a
> "shadowy" group that is doing things behind the WG's back.
> This is along the lines of the transparency critique against
> the IESG, and like that critique, it is partially justified.
> Make the directorates more visible, and formalizing their role
> might help.

Ack.   That would certainly help with many problems, but not 
necessarily with this one.   And significantly more 
formalization might reduce flexibility for individual ADs to 
work out the management/ coordination arrangements that work for 


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