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IETF process: "draft darwinism"

From: Lisa Dusseault <lisa@xythos.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 08:21:39 -0800
To: "'Webdav WG'" <w3c-dist-auth@w3c.org>
Message-ID: <000101c28b30$bef91080$620afea9@xythoslap>


The IETF WG chairs mailing list has been having some interesting
discussions about IETF process.  There will likely be continued
discussions at the IESG Plenary in Atlanta next week, too.  Although
people are discussing changes, it's way too early to know what, if
anything, will change.

I got permission to forward some email from Edward Lewis in the
discussion, because I thought it describes some aspects of the existing
process really clearly.  

> Harking back to my earliest IETF experience, the thought that got me 
> in was that this organization had implemented technological 
> darwinism.  By the mere fact that ID's time out, any idea may come 
> along, but only the good ones prosper.

And from another email:

> ... If consensus isn't reached it's
>  best to walk away from declaring any solution.  It's happened in
>  provreg (we've had about 9 documents[0] so far enter the WG - 1 has
>  gone to RFC, 5 are in front of the IESG, 3 have been dropped and just
>  1 still under consideration).  I.e. 33% of our documents to date have
>  been killed because no consensus could be reached.  (Whether because
>  of "I don't like" or "I don't care" sentiments.)
>
>  My rationale is that consensus means that the group has found common
>  ground.  If there is no common ground, then we don't have
>  interoperability - and that is the single most important feature of
>  an IETF standard.  If interoperability isn't the overriding goal,
>  then the WG ought to be conforming to some other standards body
>  anyway.
>
>  As far as "closing the WG" - that's not always the solution.  I've
>  seen individual issues (DNS is loaded with them) that fail to achieve
>  consensus and then wither away without closing the group.  (I suppose
>  that the intent in school 1 was not to always result in a fatal error
>  for the WG, but when I first read the message, I didn't recognize #1
>  as my solution because of the "closing" phrase.)
>
>  [0] 2 are knocking at the door but haven't been allowed in.
>  --

The point of this is that the WebDAV WG naturally tries to "complete"
each of its drafts, as if they are assignments that must be handed in or
we'll get a bad grade.  That's not the case.  We can also drop work,
even work that is in our charter, and it doesn't mean we've failed as a
working group.  

Lisa
Received on Wednesday, 13 November 2002 11:21:41 GMT

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