Minor comments on draft-ietf-problem-statement-00.txt

Pete Resnick presnick at qualcomm.com
Fri Feb 28 14:15:03 CET 2003

Let me say off the top that I think the appearance of a problem is a 
problem in itself, though one of a different sort. Even if some of 
the items here (or in a subsequent message I will send about 2.4) 
don't play themselves out in reality, if people think that 
shenanigans are occurring, that will damage the output our processes. 
That said:

On 2/28/03 at 1:55 PM +0100, Brian E Carpenter wrote:

>>        The outputs from design teams and interim meetings appear to have
>>        a disproportionate chance of becoming the final output of a WG.
>It would be very strange if this was not the case. Design teams and
>interim meetings are set up to accelerate progress. If their outputs
>don't become WG outputs, they have failed. I have a hard time seeing this
>as a problem.

"Disproportionate" doesn't mean "not equal"; it means "not in the 
correct proportion". I think it is quite reasonable that a large 
number of design team and interim meeting output end being final WG 
output. However, I also think that there are so few exceptions to 
this being the output (i.e., so few times that the WG says, "the 
design team failed to capture the concensus of the WG") that it is 
likely a problem. More on this below.

>  >    Issues derived from Mailing list:
>>     o  Design Teams introduce lack of transparency. They are perceived as
>>        a way to bypass the normal working of the WG, to push forward the
>>        opinions of a (self-)selected subgroup and as closed fiefdoms
>>        which are not selected in an open fashion (Marc Blanchet: P6)
>I didn't notice this comment originally, and I have to disagree. It's
>an illusion to think that any document is ever genuinely produced in a
>WG as a whole, except for very small WGs (that almost don't exist any more).
>All real documents are produced by a small team. An official design team
>is the *most* transparent way to do this, because at least the people
>doing it are explicitly identified.

Design teams are not perceived this way. A document author is a 
*very* "small team", yet people (generally) don't have this reaction 
to a document author coming up with text for a document. The problem 
with a design team is that it is often chosen when the chair or AD 
decides that there is a problem the WG can't seem to solve through 
normal discussion. It is not tasked to document what it thinks the WG 
as a whole wants done, but rather to come up with something to cut 
the knot. Given it's genesis, few WG members are willing to go 
toe-to-toe with the design team (and the chair, and perhaps the AD), 
even if they think the wrong decision was made on a controversial 
topic, because it is given this apparent power.

I don't find this characterization of the perception incorrect.

>Design teams are indeed selected (not self selected)

Sorry, but this is nonsense. I have seen (and even been part of) 
design teams selected by the chair asking for volunteers from the 
room. In my experience, it is the exception rather than the rule for 
chairs to seek out people to be on a design team. And whether by 
volunteering or by chair selection, the makeup of the design team is 
often "old guard" folks that often do not include people on the 
"wrong" side of the controversial issue. That's likely because the 
chair knows "the usual suspects" well and involves no conspiracy, but 
to more peripheral folks, the perception is that they are being 
excluded from the "fiefdom".

I think the paragraph captures the perception problem quite well.

>  >    o  Design team work is rarely challenged or subjected to external
>>        quality control by the rest of the community in the same way that
>>        more publicly constructed documents are tested (Elwyn Davies)
>I doubt if that's true. Firstly, I don't believe there is any such thing
>as a publicly constructed document. Secondly, key documents get
>analyzed to death wherever they come from.

My (admittedly anecdotal) experience has been otherwise on several 
occasions. I would submit, however, that if there are a bunch of us 
out here that have this perception, that itself makes it a problem. 
Perhaps this could be re-worded to say, "Design team work appears to 
be challenged less often and subjected to less external quality 
control and scrutiny than documents produced by a document editor."

>Bottom line, I don't agree with A.2.5 being classed as a problem.
>It's just a fact of life: work done in design teams or interim
>meetings is more likely to survive review by the WG than
>individual submissions discussed in a 10 minute slot at a "normal"
>meeting. And probably that is because it's better quality work.

If work done in design teams and interim meetings is *surviving* real 
review by the WG, I've got no problem with it. However, the 
characterization of the problem is that this work is not getting as 
much review by the WG. That is a problem.

Pete Resnick <mailto:presnick at qualcomm.com>
QUALCOMM Incorporated

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