[rfc-i] draft-kowack-rfc-editor-model-v2-motivations-00.txt

Ted Hardie ted.ietf at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 14:18:25 PST 2010

Hi Glenn,

My apologies for the delay in replying; my access is quite spotty
during the holidays.  Some replies below.

On Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 8:32 PM, Glenn Kowack <glenn at riveronce.com> wrote:
> Net, I do not believe your suggested terms are an appropriate basis
> for moving toward a consensus.  Rather than either of those, the
> model I am recommending, and what 5620 introduced, is an
> executive-level manager.

In your motivations document, you described this role as
"head of a publications department".  If this role were retitled
as "RFC Publication Manager", do you feel it would represent
the work you did and you feel needs to be done?

> However, if I understand your mail correctly, we agree on a vital point:
> the scope of the RSE should include management across the entire
> RFC Editor. This is an important alignment, and we may be able to
> develop further points of agreement from there.
> I address your specific points below.
I think we agree that the role involves activity across all RFC
Editor streams.  I'm not sure, honestly, that we agree on management.


> To use a  hyperbolic example, he's looking for someone
> to act as our Henry Luce, with a set  of RFC streams standing in for
> Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated.
> The term 'publisher' as you define it, already implies more than I
> recommend, let alone a 'strong' one.  For example, the RSE will not, per se
> identify markets and establish their audiences. Yes, he will help discover
> groups who are already reading RFCs and then bring that information back
> to the community and the streams for further discussion, and maybe suggest
> some improvements to access if useful.  But the RSE as proposed in Version 2
> won't have anywhere near the level of control afforded a publisher, and the
> Henry Luce metaphor is too strong: Luce created publications, hired and
> fired
> editors, and even created markets that he then went after with a vengeance.
> Our working environment as style of business are very, very different, and I
> do
> not recommend Luce's level of autonomy or authority for the RSE.
So, I named this as a hyperbolic example, but that clearly didn't
help read through it; my apologies.  I also don't think the Internet technical
community would be served by Henry Luce's actual activity.  I used him
because he is so clearly on that Publication-as-a-business side of the line
where Ben Bradlee is so clearly on the
side.  (Again, recognizing that the line is much harder to draw than this
in most circumstances--this is why I went with hyperbolic examples)


> More importantly, I feel that the Executive Editor side of the line fits
> with what has worked in our history much more.  Jon and Joyce were
> editors who worked both at copy editing and at maintaining the
> series as a single conversation.   They were authors, line editors, and
> executive editors.  They covered the ground from style guide to
> ensuring that the loyal opposition had an outlet for its views.  Even
> with the splitting out  of the ISE as a separate role, retaining as much as
> possible of that model strikes me as important.  The working editors have
> developed, over time, a serious amount of throw-weight within our system.
> Can you say more about "throw weight"?  If it goes beyond edits for clarity
> and
> formal correctness - that don't touch specific content - it's already gone
> too far.

Throw weight is a slang term used in some parts of the IETF for the
level of consideration given to an individual's comments.   If Joyce told
me as an author that a term I'd used might cause confusion because other
parts of the community already had a different meaning assigned, I took
that as seriously as a comment from an AD that could block progress on
the draft.  That's throw-weight, and it reflects a recognition that the actual
editors see more of the series than any one else.  They can pick up on
issues that others would miss.  They don't select or change content, but
they do help ensure that the series can be read as a long, ongoing
conversation.  That sometimes mean holding up a flag that says "this
will be confusing if read by someone who's already read this other group
of RFCs".

> I think that's in part because they took both a document-level view and
> a global view.
> That gives a kind of insight that the closer-to-pure management role of
> managing Publisher does not have.  I think that will be valued by our
> community
> and that it can work again. To me, that means hiring on the Editorial side
> of
> that fluid line.
> 5620 and my recommendations don't preclude the RSE from occasionally
> editing a document to be sure he is aware of processes, issues, quality
> requirements, and so on.  However, there is nothing in either than has them
> doing any regular document production (editing). I believe this is exactly
> the
> right fit and don't think it's useful to expand that to return to the
> historical
> production roles of past Editors (Joyce, Josn, etc). Time has simply moved
> on, and 2010 experience demonstrates that the current division of labor
> between the RSE and RPC works well.

A person in this role may or may not do production work at this moment, but
I disagree that a background in production is not valuable.  I think one of the
reasons we originally saw "RFC author" in the list of desiderata was because
of desire to have folks with a background that included *some* view on the
production, without limiting the choice excessively.  It may be that production
experience outside our series but with a similar long-running technical
publication would be as or more valuable.

> Which brings me to the "closer-to-pure management role" you mention
> above.  I think that'ss a pretty fair characterization of my
> recommendations,
> minus a day-to-day direct production role by the RSE.

I personally disagree that a pure management role is the ideal for a
Series Editor.
Perhaps more importantly, I think we need to be
very clear on the result of the discussion.  If the community wants to
hire a manager
with a focus on contracts and a background in publication, that
needs to be titled something closer to the RFC Publication Manager
than RFC Series Editor.  We'll get better matches and the community
will have a better feel for why the incumbent has a certain focus.

Thanks for your time and attention,


Ted Hardie

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