[rfc-i] Wordsmithing Re: Candidates for RSOC sought

Dave CROCKER dhc at dcrocker.net
Mon Feb 28 13:19:37 PST 2011

On 2/25/2011 2:20 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> RSOC as a body should abstain from direct participation in the RFC Editor's
> policy-making or in formation of its policy-making committees, because this
> might conflict with RSOC's oversight role.

As much as we like to think that having an IETF management authority say what 
hat they are wearing is enough to split their brains from one role to another, 
for the really interesting situations, it isn't enough.  (It is effective at 
telling others whether a statement is being made with the authority of the 
office; but that's different from whether the speaker is /thinking/ in a 
different way.)

We are not a community of professional politicians or policy makers.  We are a 
community of engineers, being forced to act as policy makers.  We need to design 
the simplest and most behavior-oriented rules of conduct we can.

Concerns about direct participation of a group "as a body" need to apply equally 
to the members of that group.  If it is a problem to have the group be active, 
why is it not also a problem to have a member of the group be active.

I really do not understand how that person's performance providing oversight can 
be sufficiently detached, if they have been active in the development of the 
policy being reviewed.

On 2/25/2011 9:32 AM, Joel M. Halpern wrote:
 > In a formal sense, I agree with Dave Crocker about what ould be cleanest. And in
 > some other community, we might be able to do that.
 > Given the tremendous breadth of skill and participation in this topic we have
 > (NOT) I do not think we can afford to exclude the RSOC members as individuals
 > from the policy discussions.

It is certainly true that we have an enormous degree of "concentration" of 
management personnel within our community.  It's odd that we do not seem to view 
that as a serious problem.  We should also note that we are not likely to get 
greater diversity of participation in the "overhead" activities if we do not 
insist on it.

On 2/25/2011 9:24 AM, Andrew Sullivan wrote:
 > What we have seen recently with the US Supreme Court, quite frankly,
 > is someone behaving badly.

What is being proposed is a generic rule, with no concrete basis for knowing how 
to apply it and hence the freedom to misinterpret it.  That's the comparison I 
meant to draw.

This concept of "choose whether to be active or to manage" is already present in 
the IETF:  Note that we do not allow an AD to provide oversight for a working 
group in which they are active.

 > Detailed rules won't help in that case,

I'm suggesting a very simple rule.  It is a behavioral definition of conflict of 
interest:  If you are active in the work of the group, you have a conflict with 
the role of providing oversight to the group, because your activity represents 
an explicit bias.

This is neither a subtle nor an unusual restriction for oversight groups.

That we practice it inconsistently in the IETF does not make the rule subtle, 
complex or unusual.

 > If instead we have strong general guidelines,

"strong general"?  What does that mean and how does the rule that folks are 
preferring constitute "strong"?

What is the basis for believing that I will apply it for myself in the same way 
that you will apply it for yourself?  What is the basis for even guessing the 
details of application for anyone?

 >>       An RSOC member must recuse themselves from RSOC review and approval
 >> of any issue about which they have been active.
 > I think this rule deeply wrong.  Taken quite literally, it means that
 > every RSOC member will be by definition unqualified to evaluate
 > anything that comes before them.

You think that all RSOC members will have been 'active' in all RFC Editor policy 

If you believe the answer is yes, I'll suggest that that reality should bother 
you more than my proposed rule because it means that there is only the structure 
of oversight and none of the reality.  If the answer is no, then I don't 
understand what you mean; please clarify.


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking


   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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