[rfc-i] RSE qualifications (was: Re: RSE role)

John Klensin john+rfc at jck.com
Fri Jan 21 12:06:40 PST 2011

--On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:54:55 -0800, Ted Hardie
<ted.ietf at gmail.com> wrote...
> So, I think the key point here is that cross-stream
> coordination role that the RSE has is specific to editorial
> and publications points, since content has been explicitly
> ruled out.  Leading discussions on those points actually
> requires pretty significant expertise with them, or the policy
> that's returned may be unimplementable and/or way out of the
> mainstream.
> Ideal from at least my perspective is someone who has both that
> experience and IETF experience, but that's a pretty limited
> set and the number of hours/pay may well make it the null set.
> So we're left with the question:  is it easier to grow a
> member of the community in this domain, or easier to get
> someone with this domain knowledge to build a reputation
> inside the community?  As long as we're clear that we want the
> intersection at the end of the day, I think we can reach this
> point, but it will take time either way.
> My personal take is that absent the ideal case, it will be
> better to hire someone with publication experience and grow
> their knowledge of the community they will serve.  The risk in
> the other direction is that we will have a respected member of
> the community who becomes increasingly familiar with the way
> we already do publication, with little to know exposure to how
> others do it.  That might limit our ability to evolve the
> series to meet new needs.

I think Ted has nicely summarized the key point and tradeoff.
While the ideal might be an expert protocol designer and RFC
Author who is also a publications expert, we are unlikely to
find such a person.  If we have to make the tradeoff --which I
think is inevitable-- we had better recruit for the publications
background because we otherwise are unlikely to get it.

That doesn't make the choice easy.  Glenn says that it took him
six months to figure out the community.  I hope that he won't be
offended if I suggest that "nine months and counting" would be a
better estimate.  But the nice thing about someone who is more
or less "from outside" learning the community is that there is
no shortage of people who are willing to supply advice and
corrections when someone gets that wrong.  If we start with a
community leader who doesn't know much about publications, there
are not a large number of people around who have the expertise
needed to apply the similar corrections.

Several people have argued against that point of view by noting
that Jon Postel never had much formal background in
publications.  I agree.  But it arguably took Jon 15 or 20 years
to come up to speed on the issues and he may never have gotten
fully up to speed on some of those that face us today.
Selecting someone from the community and then expecting to wait
a decade or two for on-the-job training to take effect would not
be, IMO, a wise option.

I also agree with Ted's translation issue and think it is part
of a broader problem that I'll address in separate notes.


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