[rfc-i] draft-iab-rfc-editor-model-00

John C Klensin john+rfc at jck.com
Mon Oct 6 18:11:42 PDT 2008


Hi.

A few brief comments on this document which I suggest is not
ready for prime time, much less implementation by the IAOC.  I
am going to try to avoid nit-picking and focus on main issues,
but there are many nits to be picked.

(1) The document is very confused about whether the term "the
RFC Editor" refers to the entire set of activities that make up
what has been referred to as "The RFC Editor Function" in the
last several years (and is the RFC 4844 definition) versus the
single individual referred to in Section 3.1 of this document.
The term cannot refer to both the whole and its parts.  If you
want to change the 4844 definition, you need to be very explicit
about it... and this document needs to explicitly update 4844.

(2) The restriction in Sections 3.1 and 3.2 to a "single person"
unnecessarily and unreasonably restricts the IAB and IAOC in
finding the right combination of skills for these roles (which I
believe may be far more difficult to fill with people of
adequate skill, perspective, and experience than the IAB and IAD
anticipate).  If you want to make a single person _responsible_
for each role, that is fine, but the details of how the roles
are organized should be a matter of negotiation with or about
the designated person or entity.   It is worth noting that the
"Originally ... single person" statement from RFC 4844 is true
only if one goes back to the early 1970s.  While there was a
single responsible individual for many years, the RFC editing
function has been a team effort since the first half of the
1980s.

Incidentally, the IAB should be aware that, in many legal
documents, the opposite of "single person" is not "multiple
people" but "married person".   I presume it is not your intent
to impose that particular constraint :-)

(3) The document confuses job descriptions ("the entity doing
this is expected to do/ responsible for ...") and qualifications
required/ expected for those positions.  For example, the fifth
paragraph ("The first alternative...") of Section 3.1 says
"...seek a person with the listed qualifications..." but there
are no listed qualifications, only a list of tasks for which the
RFC Editor (presumably the narrow definition) is responsible.
That is, unless the "listed qualifications" refer to the text
from 4844 and hence includes "expert technical editor and series
editor...".

A different problem occurs in Section 3.2, where there actually
as a list of qualifications, but several of them are so vague as
to be useless in guiding the IAOC, which is _not_ supposed to be
making policy.   For example, "Technical competence" is
required, but without qualification as to area.  Possible
completions of that bullet point might involve publication
management, the Internet at  various layers, or, if Independent
Submissions might include essays about refreshments at meeting
breaks, one might seek an Independent Submission Editor who was
technically competent at baking cookies.  Probably one wants
what used to be the key qualification for IAB members -- broad
technical experience and perspective across the whole range of
Internet technologies and applications and the ability to work
effectively with portions of that spectrum in which one is not
personally expert.

Unless the members of the IAB have broad experience with the
role of the Independent Submission Editor and the knowledge and
skills required to do that job, the process described in RFC
4333 could be described as picking someone in a beauty context
(a technical term) with judges who do not have experience with
the subject matter.  Not a happy prospect.


(4) Finally, key parts of the Production job are not listed or
are represented by hand waving.  For example, responsibility (3)
involves dialogue with authors, but, for some of the tracks, the
authors are not the only ones involved in those dialogues.
Responsibility (9) says "Forwarding ready-to-publish
documents...", but the determination of what is "ready" can be
quite complex and, again, may differ by track.  And
Responsibility (10) may raise difficulties with confidentiality
of processes that have never been public, since as author-editor
dialogue during Last Call (a dialogue that often involves
members of the body responsible for the track and, in this
model, may involve the (individual) RFC Editor.   Perhaps that
dialogue should be completely public and even open to comments
and appeals while it is in progress, but making that decision
through the back door of this document would be inappropriate at
best.   

And, as with the discussion above under (3), there are no stated
qualifications for the RFC Production operation other than,
presumably, the ability to perform the listed tasks.

If you are expecting the IAOC to write an RFP, these issues need
to be nailed down sufficiently that the community understands
what it is agreeing to; otherwise, the IAB is delegating
authority to a body whose work (since this is part of
contracting) may be largely secret.

     john




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