Cutting through the accumulating sludge (was: Re: Doing the Right Things? and/or WG Quality Processes WG)

John C Klensin john-ietf at
Mon Jun 2 16:56:03 CEST 2003

--On Monday, 02 June, 2003 15:30 -0400 Margaret Wasserman 
<mrw at> wrote:

>> we really need to do, they will almost certainly  require
>> spinning up a WG, careful consideration of charters and
>> leadership, etc.  I think the odds of something of that
>> nature producing  results that are ready for us to even
>> debate intelligently in Vienna are  pretty low, and will keep
>> getting lower unless we can do something radical  about the
>> current astronomical N/S ratio.   Maybe we can at least start
>> that effort in parallel with the above.  But let's not bog
>> down practical  issues, fine-tuning, and fixes with the same
>> process needed for long-term,  major, changes.
> This was the point of separating the "near-term" and
> "longer-term" items in the process document...


> We should work on fixing the near-term items now, in some
> loosely coordinated way, in parallel with fixing the
> longer-term problems (i.e. reorganization and updates to the
> standards-track).
> I'm just not sure how you think that we can start the near-term
> effort that you've explained...

I am suggesting that, if there seems to be general sympathy on 
the list (or otherwise) for this, that the relevant AD just do 
it --or delegate it to the WG Chairs or an appointed 
coordinator-- to do it.  The authority is there; nothing in the 
current procedures requires us to find a tree and dance around 
it in a circle while chanting "rough consensus and running 
code", or to create a charter and WG, before doing anything.

>  I had suggested a WG to vet
> the various ideas for improvement and prioritize which ones to
> implement, and you've suggested either having the IESG do it,
> or having the IESG appoint a panel to do it.

If the IESG thinks that a particular idea is a good one, or 
likely to be a good one, then they should implement it, without 
more fuss.  If they think an idea is a bad one, and the 
community still thinks otherwise, _then_ we may need a more 
formal/systematic process.

> A WG provides more opportunity for visibility and community
> feedback, which is why I prefer a WG to having this done in a
> closed group.  I know that not everyone can attend a WG, but
> it a WG is certainly more open than the IESG or a closed
> committee.  I agree, though, that a WG could be too high
> overhead.

Then find the middle ground by using the WG for those things 
that (a) are controversial, (b) are non-trivial, and (c) still 
have significant support.  Right now, we are headed for using 
WG-like mechanisms for suggestions that, once understood, are 
probably obvious and trivial.  We are also headed for using 
those mechanism for proposals that, were the IESG to comment, 
they would immediately point out reasons why the ideas were 
infeasible and, probably for a large subset, immediately 
convince most of the rest of us.

So, IMO, we need to move to a "four piles" plan -- clearly yes, 
clearly no (or no support beyond the author and his two 
friends), not worth further effort, and really worth serious and 
extended discussion.   For the fourth category, _if_ it actually 
turns out to be non-null, let's by all means spin up a WG, or 
attach those topics to the "long-term" WG.  But let's not go to 
that effort unless the fourth category really is non-null. 
Personally, from looking at the list over the last few months, 
I'd be a bit surprised.

> So, either way is really okay with me, as long as we find a way
> to start vetting the various ideas for near-term improvements
> and implementing the most promising ones.

Ok.  Want to wait until August to get started?  If the answer is 
"no", then let's not start planning WGs instead of generating 
specific suggestions and getting quick and efficient IESG 
evaluations of them.


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