Harald Tveit Alvestrand harald at
Sat Jun 28 11:39:06 CEST 2003

I like your rephrasing.

--On 28. juni 2003 10:28 +0900 avri <avri at> wrote:

> When an individual thinks that the process has not produced the right
> result, or thinks that the process has been abused, there is no formal
> mechanism to aid that individual in seeking to change that result.
>   differences:
>     - sometimes there is a process problem that can be fixed before the
> wrong result is on the books so one should not have to wait until
> the results are in.

and we both agree that the absence of a result can at times be as troubling 
as the appearance of a result that one does not agree with.....

>    - i used the word mechanism as opposed to process,  i think that is
> the problem; one can reasonably argue that there is currently a
> process, it takes very little to have a process - that is just words
> on paper.  i think the problem is that there is no functional entity
> that assists in the process.  the word 'mechanism' is hopefully
> sufficiently abstract and  non-solutionist.
>> 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.
> i think it goes beyond this.  the organization has to be seen as one that
> is open and is fair to the individuals participating in it in order for
> it to remain a place where people are willing to bring their work or a
> place where work can continue without rancor.   yes the process is there
> to help the work get done.  it is not an abstract notion of justice i am
> looking for,  rather it is a notion of being fair and just according to
> our rules, processes and principles.


> the case under discussion is not the only one of people feeling abused by
> the system that i have heard.  i have been involved in many conversations
> where folks were unhappy with how the system had been used to 'force a
> result' they felt was not in consensus and not fair, but the way forward
> to redress that issue was not clear and did not not seem possible.  i
> have suggested an appeal several times and have often gotten answers of
> inability, fear or disbelief that the system could work for them.

the fear may be our greatest enemy. I liked the appeal that Glen Zorn put 
before the IESG when we failed to follow the rules we had set for codepoint 
allocation in RADIUS; when we looked at the documents he pointed at, it 
took us only seconds to realize that we'd done the wrong thing.
It did take a while to figure out what the right thing was, given RADIUS' 
long and convoluted history - we had to figure out something that was both 
consistent with process and consistent with the right thing for the 
Internet; I think we managed.

>> - 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.
> possibly beside the point, but i think that essentially all public
> defenders (at least in the US)  are employees of the legal system.  and i
> don't think we are talking about employees here.  i see those holding
> offices in this organization as being individuals who volunteer to take
> on a trust and to do their best to meet that trust.

Other traditions .... in Norway, criminal-court defendants are independent 
lawyers/attorneys (not sure how the titles match up) who take on cases, and 
their fees are paid by public money. The fact that nobody in the justice 
dept can hire or fire them is seen as a major guarantee of their 
independence from the prosecutors and judges (who, again,  report to 
different administrative hierarchies).
But this is a sidetrack - I'm unsure whether either model (civil court with 
its assumption that "one wins and another loses", or criminal court with 
its assumption of "violations against an universal standard of right 
behaviour") fits well with the process of seeking the best high quality, 
relevant standards for the Internet.

>> 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 think that we cannot count on informal  networks.  i think sometimes
> the need is purely informational.  IETF processes are not simple and not
> easy to understand. it is very difficult for many of our participants,
> especially the international ones to know how to use the process to
> achieve their goals - something many of us on this list are fairly
> talented at.  and we cannot assume that all participants have a set of
> friends, especially friends who understand the process, to help them get
> the right and fair, as defined by our process, result.

as you say - the fear is out there. And we need to deal with that somehow.

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