[rfc-i] Requested follow-up from last night's plenary

Ted Hardie ted.ietf at gmail.com
Mon Nov 8 22:35:06 PST 2010

Comments in-line; as before, some snipping has occurred.

On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 12:07 PM, Dave CROCKER <dhc2 at dcrocker.net> wrote:
> Ted,
> On 11/9/2010 7:53 AM, Ted Hardie wrote:
>> I've still not caffeinated,
> As I recall there was some research many years ago about the need to
> reestablish one's psychological state when attempting to continue an
> activity involving skill.  If you learned something while under the
> influence of acid, you needed to drop some again to get back to the skill.
>  I find myself wishing you'd waited for the caffeine...

Thank you for accepting my self deprecating comment so readily.

>> On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 6:56 AM, Dave CROCKER<dhc2 at dcrocker.net>  wrote:
> Somewhere around this point, we do in fact start to get a reasonable -- if
> rough -- definition of "The /IETF/ Community".
> This then can lead naturally to a legitimate debate about the differences
> between the IETF technical community and the Internet technical community,
> and possibly about the small set of additional series that might qualify as
> "official" series of this broader community.
> (There will probably need to be a small diversion, to debate whether the
> term "IETF" covers such areas as the IRTF and IAB and Independent Stream
> and....)
> The outcome of this debate well might produce a recommendation that the
> proposal's phrasing be changed to use the more constrained "IETF Technical
> Community", but it almost certainly will produce frustration at the level of
> effort and emotion spent, to make a one word editing change that isn't
> normative.

Thank you for sharing your cost benefit analysis.  We disagree
on this point.  Some specs we rely on, for example XML, can
be produced by a part of the Internet  technical community which
does not use this publication mechanism.  I would be fine
with "IETF" technical community.

> I'll even suggest that, to the extent the broader community does not feel
> invested in these documents, the broader community has reneged on its
> responsibilities...

You can care about the topic without being invested in this set
of documents, at least in my opinion

> Ahh.  So the critical objection you have is over the word "implementation"
> and, apparently, you think that an executive's involvement in implementation
> is mundane and does not involve leadership over the relevant activity.  This
> differs from the executives' performance that I have seen or been required
> to perform.

The document gives over-all leadership to this function to the RSE;
as written, it seems to include some elements that would be policy.

The document says:

 Finally, to serve the community, the Series Editor must have the
   freedom to be professional while under contract to the IAOC and
   subject to review by the IAB -- neither of which can be expected to
   include individuals with the same level of editorial background or
   expertise.  The Series Editor must be able to balance his/her own
   initiative and decision-making with the right amount of community
   dialog, in the right way, at the right times.

I read this to say that is up to the RSE to determine both how
much community dialog is appropriate and to judge the result.
That's not implementation of community-set policy.


> Nope, but I think the contrast is important.

> Then it would have been nice if you had engaged that contrast in your
> previous note and dealt with it, or at had done that in your response.


> So it is probably good that the Proposal observed that it described a return
> to the gist of the original model, adapted to the current environment.


Do you agree that "a return to the gist of the original model" means that
the TRSE is proposing a change from RFC 5620 for community
(specifically IAB) approval?  If so, did you follow the questions from
Harald and Leslie on why motivations of what specific issues arose
during his time in office lead to this?

> More interestingly, your assertion that the base model has shifted refers to
> what occupants of the job?  Braden?  He operated under a different model?
>From my perspective, Bob operated  under two different models.

> OK.  That's was a bit challenging to extract from your previous -- and even
> current -- marginal focus.
> Certainly a concern that the RSAG members are actually lackeys of the RSE is
> worth paying attention to, for the selection process.  I'm certain that the
> long track record of having an RSAG that merely parrots the preferences of
> the RSE gives us a solid basis for worry.  In looking over the list of RSAG
> members, I can see how well founded that worry is.

Building institutional structures around the characteristics of the
current incumbents has pretty serious failure risks.

> But seriously, the conceptual basis for your concern does have a
> philosophical legitimacy, when seeking formal purity in selection processes.
>  Fortunately, pragmatics moderate that concern, as do some structures
> elsewhere in the I* community that share this bit of pragmatic impurity.
> The core requirement is that selection be performed by a diverse group with
> relevant expertise and singular focus.  (One is tempted to refer to it as a
> Design Team.)
>>>> This methodology, in which the role of the IAB is to formally
>>>> appoint rather than select and vet is, in fact, a major change; it
>>> Perhaps you missed the previous effort to hire an RSE and then to
>>> actually
>>> hire the TRSE.  In broad strokes, it largely conformed to what Glenn has
>>> described in the language you quote.

I think there is some pronoun antecedent trouble here, as the "role of the IAB
is to formally appoint" was originally tied to the process of the RSAG,
not the RSE.

>I thought I did at the bottom the mail; a much simpler model in which
>the RSE reported to the IAB implied for me that the IAB did that
>selection.  I assume that they would do so by involving others,
>but I think this is their hire.

>> 1. It's probably better to have such a key point be explicit rather than
> implied.


> As for your assertion that this arrangement was motivated by a desire to
> ensure RSE autonomy, I've no idea what the basis for that particular
> assessment is, since it doesn't match the history or the information I've
> gleaned from discussions with IAB and IAOC folk.
Very well, then leave the motivation aside.  The question
to the community is whether the reporting structure is
both clear and correct.  I don't think, personally, it is either;
the lack of clarity contributing largely to the latter.

> Perhaps you would have wished that I had gotten up to the mic and make a
> direct and explicit and strong recommendation to this effect?
> Oh wait.  I did.

Sorry, I missed the transcript of last night's plenary being
posted to the list; I'll check my filters.

>>>  For a style manual?  For xml2rfc documentation?  You really
>>> want to add that sort of review and approval to the IAB's load?
> ...
>> I don't think the number of documents in "style manual" and
>> "xml2rfc docs" is going to break the IAB.
> So the answer is yes.  You want the IAB to micromanage the work of the RSE.

Micromanage or approve publication?  I favor the latter, yes.
That does not to me imply that they would choose to micromanage.

> Your phrase "No RSE can do that now" is unanchored.  I've no idea what you
> are referring to.

An RSE might be delegated the management of a contract, but it is
still a contract relationship signed with a different  body; unless I missed
this, we are not proposing that the general contract be given to
the RSE, who subcontracts with the others.

This does have an impact; for some levels of issue, the RSE has
to kick things over to those who signed the contracts.


>> The problem is actually that it assigns responsibility for considering
>> change without granting the authority to institute the change.  That's
>> not an easy position to be in, but granting the authority to an RSE,
>> however "tempered" by consultation is not better.  The RSE has to
>> get at least the IAB on with changes, as they are the root-level
>> stuckee here.
> You appear to believe that the proposal assigns broad, unencumbered
> authority to the RSE for making sweeping, abrubt and unaccountable changes
> to any aspect of the RFC Editor they want to.  I'll bet you really don't
> mean that.
> The proposal is laced with a variety of qualifiers that make clear things
> will be much more nuanced and contingent, such as:
>     "   4.  liaise and work with the IAB so that the IAB may be confident
>       there has been sufficient community review before significant
>       policies or policy changes are adopted"

Plainer language like "IAB approves policy changes proposed based
on its confidence that sufficient community review has occured" would
be better, in my personal opinion.

> As for "publication of its own stream", I'll assume that you simply really
> did need that caffeine...

"This memo recommends creation of an RFC Editor stream".

best regards,


> d/
> --
>  Dave Crocker
>  Brandenburg InternetWorking
>  bbiw.net

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