New ways to do things (Re: Doing the Right Things?)

Harald Tveit Alvestrand harald at
Sun Jun 1 21:26:53 CEST 2003

--On lørdag, mai 31, 2003 23:38:16 -0400 Keith Moore <moore at> 

> 3. We need to see if there are specific kinds of areas or activities that
> we need to engage in, for which our WG processes don't work well.
> WGs are the IETF version of Maslow's hammer.  Any time we have a problem
> we want to form a working group to look at it.  But working groups (and
> the assumptions about WG operation that go with them) are not always a
> good way to look at a problem.  Sometimes a different mode of
> conversation, or different procedures, or different management
> structures, are  appropriate.
> We need to understand the limitations of the WG process and determine
> whether there should be exceptions to that process for activities that
> are not chartered to develop technical protocol standards.

I have thought this too.

There are working groups that function in a number of different modes:

- SIMPLE expects to produce a document set, then shut down - the "classical 
working group" model.

- LDAPBIS is trying to pick up an old document set, and do the work 
required to get it to Draft; it's not trying to invent (much) new 

- IPv6 is chartered to complete a document set, but has in the past been 
regarded as "the group responsible for everything to do with the IPv6 
technology area"

- MBONED is "a forum for coordinating the deployment, engineering, and 
operation of multicast routing protocols and procedures in the global 
Internet......This is not meant to be a protocol development Working Group."

- IDR seems to be the permanent guardian of the BGP specification

- TSVWG is a forum for developing proposals that do not merit their own 
working groups.

Yet the rules for working groups, and the ideals we sometimes tout for how 
to manage working groups, are strongly biased towards the "classical" model.

We also have directorates. And we have many (probably hundreds) of mailing 
lists that have been IETF WGs, or do IETF things, but with no way anyone 
could find them from the IETF's "official" information.

Would we be better off if we developed a few terms different from "working 
group" that we could use to name classes of entity that do functions in the 
IETF, but do not behave like "classical" working groups?


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