Harald Tveit Alvestrand harald at
Fri Jun 27 10:47:34 CEST 2003

--On 27. juni 2003 09:58 +0900 avri <avri at> wrote:

> [speaking personally]
> the IETF has no ombuds-process (leaving aside whether it is
> and individual or a group that implements it)
> what i mean is that in cases where, for whatever reason:
>     - language barrier
>     - fear of being ostracized
>     - belief in the process itself being valid
>     - ability to do all the work involved
>     - whatever
> an individual does not take advantage of the process,
> there is no other recourse.  it can be argued that the
> nature of the process make it too difficult a barrier  for
> many to overcome,  sure, in the outside world,  we can
> all be our own lawyers, but how many of us are really
> qualified for such a role.  i think the same logic may
> apply in the IETF - how many of us are qualified to
> represent ourselves in the appeals process.
> and the lack of some entity that one can go to so and
> say 'help me, please' seems to me a problem.
> so the problem may be:
> There is no independent body in the IETF responsible for
> helping individuals who have process issues that may need
> redress.

I think the problem can be stated in even more nonsolutionist terms....

When an individual thnks that the process has not produced a result that is 
best for the Internet, there is no formal process to aid the individual in 
seeking to change that result.

That's a VERY mild statement, and for numerous reasons:

- It is not clear to me that the IETF is in the business of dispensing 
"redress". We're not here to seek an abstract notion of justice, but to 
make quality, relevant standards for the Internet; our adherence to process 
is a tool in our seeking those standards, and the reason we want departures 
from those processes to be challenged is that we think such departures will 
make it less likely that the right decisions are made.

- It is not clear to me that the IETF formal apparatus is the best way of 
aiding people seeking to change IETF decisions who are challenged by the 
hurdles you mention. In the civil-justice court system, lawyers are rarely 
employees of the court.

- It is not clear to me that anything the IETF formal apparatus could have 
done in the case of Phil Hallam-Baker and the DNSEXT working group would 
have made him more happy; after all, he does not seem to be hampered by a 
language barrier, unfamiliarity with the process, fear of being ostracized 
or ability to do work.

Like many other things in the IETF, I think many of us have blithely 
assumed that the informal networks would take care of this - that an 
individual with a valid case would have friends and colleagues enough to 
talk over the issue with, and that one could assume that the consensus of 
that discussion would be reasonably close to the "right answer".

I may have been wrong.

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