MAJOR ISSUE: "Concentration of power"

Keith Moore moore at
Fri Jun 20 02:33:32 CEST 2003

> I don't think it's just about being a newbie (or perhaps "newbieness" 
> lasts longer in this organization than in others) and I don't think 
> it's just about feeling excluded. I do think it's about trust,

I think it's actually closer to "calibration" than "trust".  Let me use your
examples to explain.

> - My understanding is that in the IESG, a shepherding AD does a 
> write-up of each document that is to come up for ballot. Some of the 
> other ADs often just read the write-up, trusting it to be a fair 
> evaluation of the document. ADs trust each other's opinions of the 
> technical quality of the document, often voting "no objection" to a 
> document that's out of their area of expertise because they trust 
> that the shepherding AD or other ADs who are more familiar with the 
> document. 

Actually I'd say that ADs know each other well enough to know the areas
in which they agree with one another (and trust the others' expertise)
but also, the areas in which they don't.  So they are able to evaluate 
one anothers' comments more effeciently - they know where to concentrate
their energies looking for details and where it's not necessary to do so.
By contrast, the AD doesn't know the a typical document author or WG
chair that well so he needs to spend more energy reviewing those documents.
Also, ADs write reviews for other ADs, and they do so knowing what those
other ADs are looking for.

> Assuming my perception is correct of how things work on the 
> IESG, I think that's all good stuff. However, working group chairs 
> are *not* routinely expected to do something like an AD write-up of a 
> document.  In fact, I've been directly told by some folks who've been 
> on the IESG that the idea that a working group chair could do 
> something like a good technical write-up that could be trusted by the 
> IESG is absurd. 

I don't share that opinion in the absolute sense, and I used to ask some of my
chairs (those who I had calibrated and who had earned my confidence) to do
those writeups.  The problems that I see with doing this in general are
several: first, often the AD doesn't have the WG chair calibrated so the AD
doesn't know how much he can trust the WG chair's writeup (remember that the
shepherding AD is expected to vote YES for the document when he submits the
writeup, so it's even more important that the AD trust the WG chair for this
to work than that IESG people trust one another). Second, the WG chair doesn't
know the ADs who will be reviewing the writeup  and so doesn't know what will
satisfy them and what will bring extra scrutiny.  Third, WGs have frequently
been known to disregard their charters regarding the scope of their activity,
to violate basic design constraints on their protocols, and to fail to
consider the valid interests of other parties who their protocols affect. So
some WGs are clearly not trustworthy enough to do their own reviews.

> - I've been in multiple working groups in which I've heard things 
> from the chair like, "That's never going to get by the IESG." 

when I was on the IESG, I often heard it said when I was sure it was
erroneous.  it results when people try to predict the IESG's behavior without
having its members calibrated (i.e. without knowing them well enough to
understand what considerations are important to them)

> That is, working group 
> chairs do not feel like they and their working groups are trusted by 
> the IESG to make good technical judgements, 

and the chairs are often right about this, and often IESG is right to not
trust them.

> and they equally feel 
> that they don't trust the IESG to listen open-mindedly to them.

and it might be because they haven't tried to explain.  I used to tell WGs
that they shouldn't try to guess what IESG was going to do with something -
they should ask.  For some reason they seemed to be reluctant to do that.

> Both kinds of distrust above are self-perpetuating: If the IESG never 
> puts significant trust in chairs to direct their working groups 
> appropriately, the chairs feel no responsibility to do so and the 
> IESG ends up with work product that they must go through with a fine 
> tooth comb because nobody will have done the proper vetting. That 
> convinces the IESG that chairs cannot be trusted to produce good 
> output, and round we go.

well, the chairs tend to see themselves as advocates for the group's narrow
interests to the IESG rather than as advocates for the community's wide
interests to the group.  as long as that's the case, I don't see how the
chairs can be trusted (in general) to do due diligence either.

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