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

Ted Hardie ted.ietf at gmail.com
Mon Feb 28 14:01:27 PST 2011

On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM, Dave CROCKER <dhc at dcrocker.net> wrote:
> 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.

This is not quite how things go, at least as I understand it.  ADs
generally hand off any working groups they were managing in their area
as soon as possible, and ADs  generally do not sponsor their own work.
 So, if an AD is a document author in a working group, he or she will
have to have the *other* AD in the area sponsor any drafts sent up
with their name on them by a working group; instead, they generally
abstain.  It has not always meant that an AD is not a draft author or
active participant in the working groups under their charge.  I have
heard many "speaking as a participant" and "no hats" comments at mics
in RAI and APPs from ADs.

I also believe this to be evolved custom, rather than a statement made
anywhere that the IETF "does not allow an AD to provide oversight".
It may have, of course, evolved to be more strict than my

>> 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.

Actually, this is the core of the disagreement I have with this.
Participation in a discussion does not represent an explicit bias; it
can represent an earnest attempt to hear every side of an issue.  If a
participant is primarily an advocate for a single position in that
discussion, then I agree that she or he should recuse from later
up/down votes of approval.

But forbidding all participation on the concern that the recusal will
not occur seems to me the wrong way to go.  The strongly held opinion
will simply be expressed late in the process, hurting the chance for
developing a true community consensus.  I would much rather have all
the RSOC be participants in the discussion as  it goes, so they can
assess community sentiment (and their own potential need to recuse).

> 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.

It's not unusual, but I personally don't find it well-suited to an
organization based on determining rough consensus via participatory
discussion.  Obviously, your mileage may vary.


Ted Hardie

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