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General Area Review Team (Gen-ART) Experiences

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 6385.
Authors avri doria , Brian E. Carpenter , Mary Barnes , Harald T. Alvestrand
Last updated 2015-10-14 (Latest revision 2011-07-06)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Informational
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state Became RFC 6385 (Informational)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Russ Housley
Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                          M. Barnes
Internet-Draft                                                   Polycom
Intended status: Informational                                  A. Doria
Expires: January 7, 2012                  Lulea University of Technology
                                                           H. Alvestrand
                                                            B. Carpenter
                                                  University of Auckland
                                                            July 6, 2011

             General Area Review Team (Gen-ART) Experiences


   The General Area Review Team (Gen-ART) has been doing Reviews of
   Internet Drafts (I-Ds) since 2004.  This document discusses the
   experience and the lessons learned over the past 7 years of this
   process.  The review team initially reviewed the I-Ds before each of
   the IESG telechats.  Since late 2005, review team members have been
   assigned to review I-Ds during IETF Last Call, unless no IETF Last
   Call is necessary for the I-D.  The same reviewer then reviews any
   updates when the I-D is placed on an IESG telechat agenda.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 7, 2012.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal

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   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
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   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Who are the Gen-ART review team members? . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Goals of Gen-ART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   4.  Gen-ART Reviews  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     4.1.  IETF LC Review Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     4.2.  IESG Telechat Review Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     4.3.  Form of Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     4.4.  Gen-ART Process Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   5.  Secretarial Process  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.1.  Maintaining review spreadsheet . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.2.  Last Call Assignment procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     5.3.  Telechat Assignment procedure  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     5.4.  Capturing reviews  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   6.  Results  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   7.  Impressions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
     7.1.  Reviewers' Impressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     7.2.  General Area Directors' Impressions  . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     7.3.  Gen-ART Secretaries' Impressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   8.  Needed Improvements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
   9.  Applicability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   10. Security considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   11. IANA considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   12. Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   13. Changes since Last Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   14. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

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1.  Introduction

   The General Area Review Team (Gen-ART) was created personally by the
   General Area Director in 2004.  The review team has been retained by
   subsequent General Area Directors.  It has no official role in the
   IETF standards process, except as a set of individuals entitled, like
   everyone, to comment on Internet-Drafts.  Its Secretary, and the team
   of volunteer reviewers, serve at the invitation of the General AD.

   Discussion of this document is intended to take place on the IETF
   mailing list <mailto:> in the absence of a better home.
   In addition, comments may be specifically sent to the gen-art mailing
   list: <mailto:>.

   Note to RFC Editor: Please remove the above paragraph prior to

2.  Who are the Gen-ART review team members?

   The reviewers are typically individuals that have a fair amount of
   experience within various IETF Working Groups (WGs), have authored WG
   I-Ds and RFCs, and are often considered to be subject matter experts
   (SMEs) in their particular areas of work.  The current review team is
   comprised of such technical experts including several WG chairs and
   past and current IAB members.  Several past and current ADs have
   served as reviewers.  Two past General ADs have also served as
   reviewers, with one currently serving.

   Members of the review team sometimes excuse themselves from the team
   for various reasons, typically due to "day job" demands.  However,
   they often rejoin (for periods of time) as their schedules allow.
   Also, some reviewers remain on the team, while their review workload
   is decreased by assigning them just one I-D (at Last Call time) to
   review each month.  Section 12 provides a list of currently active
   reviewers, along with those who have served on the review team in the

3.  Goals of Gen-ART

   The original and continuing goal of the Gen-ART team was, and is, to
   offload some of the burden from the General Area AD of IESG reviews.
   The load for the bi-weekly IESG reviews is often quite large;
   occasionally there are more than 20 I-Ds scheduled for discussion in
   a single telechat.  Thus, ADs also have less than a week's notice for
   many of the I-Ds on the telechat agenda.

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   Gen-ART was based on a model that had proved productive in the OPS
   Directorate: Quick review close to telechat time, to advise the AD on
   issues that remain serious.  By having a trusted group of reviewers
   read and evaluate the I-Ds, the General Area AD would be able to
   concentrate on those I-Ds where there was a concern expressed by the
   reviewer.  The reviewers are expected to provide feedback based on a
   whole set of criteria including the criteria summarized in
   Section 4.3.  The overall objective is to ensure that the I-Ds are
   well structured, can be easily understood, at least at a high level,
   and provides a reasonable basis for implementation (for standard's
   track I-Ds).

   While other area (and WG) directorates/review teams existed prior to
   Gen-ART and more have been established since Gen-ART, the roles of
   each are fairly distinct.  Thus, there is little overlap between the
   goals and review criteria for the various review teams.  It is also
   very valuable for these other review teams to operate independently.
   For example, when both Gen-ART reviews and Security Directorate
   (SecDir) reviews raise the same sorts of concerns, it's a clear red
   flag that the I-D needs more work before progressing.  In addition,
   due to the typical thoroughness (and objectiveness) of the various
   review teams' reviews, the sponsoring AD and document shepherd are
   often able to work with the editors/WG (and vice versa depending upon
   area and WG structure) to improve the overall quality of the final

   Statistics from the Gen-ART reviews over the past 6 + years show a
   trend of increased quality and readiness for progression of I-Ds by
   the time they are placed on the telechat agenda.  Additional
   statistics are discussed in Section 6.

4.  Gen-ART Reviews

4.1.  IETF LC Review Process

   While the original process was meant only for reviews just before the
   IESG telechat, it was decided to include IETF Last Call reviews in
   early 2005.  This initially seemed to be an overloading of the
   process and presented some initial difficulties.  However, over time
   it has proven to be quite effective.  Assigning the I-Ds at IETF LC
   time typically gives a reviewer more time to review an I-D.  And, in
   some cases, the IETF LC version is the one to appear on the telechat.
   Thus, by the time I-Ds are added to the telechat agenda, a majority
   (typically at least 70%) have already been reviewed.  For those I-Ds
   that have been up-versioned, the amount of time dedicated to re-
   review depends upon the review summary for the IETF LC review.

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   The assignments at IETF LC time evolved to minimize the gap between
   LC announcements and assignment time, with the secretary doing LC
   assignments every Thursday night.  This typically allows the reviewer
   at least one week and sometimes two to three weeks to complete the
   review.  The reviews are obviously most helpful when done on or
   before the end of IETF LC.

   The Last Call assignments are done on a fairly strict round robin
   basis to ensure a fair workload amongst all the reviewers.  Reviewers
   that are unavailable (vacations, etc.) during the review period
   timeframe obviously are excluded from that round of assignments, but
   remain in the same queue position for the next round.  The order is
   occasionally modified to avoid assigning an editor/author or WG chair
   their own I-Ds.  A reviewer may also NACK an assignment if they feel
   they may have some bias (although corporate affiliations are not
   considered to be sources of bias) or they don't feel they can review
   the I-D in a timely manner.

   The assignment process is completely manual, although a spreadsheet
   tremendously facilitates the process.  The details are described in
   Section 5.  Ideally, this process could be automated.  However,
   manual intervention would still be required to maintain the
   appropriate available reviewer list (unless reviewers took on the
   task of maintaining their data in some sort of database).  Further
   details on the tools necessary to automate the entire process are
   provided in Section 8.

4.2.  IESG Telechat Review Process

   The process for reviewing I-Ds when they appear on the IESG agenda:

   o  The "nearly final" IESG meeting agenda generally appears on
      Thursday night, less than one week before the IESG telechat.  The
      Gen-ART secretary uses this as the input for the assignment
   o  For I-Ds reviewed at IETF Last Call, a new review is only asked
      for if the I-D is revised.  In this case the reviewer, typically
      the person who did the Last Call review, only needs to check that
      any open issues were resolved.  Often the draft will not have
      changed between IETF LC and the IESG telechat review.  Section 4.4
      provides the step by step telechat review assignment process, with
      specific details on the maintenance of the review assignment data,
      maintained in spreadsheets detailed in section Section 5.

4.3.  Form of Review

   Rather than invent new guidelines, the Gen-ART requirements for the
   form of a review stole liberally from

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   draft-carpenter-solutions-sirs-01, making adaptations for the special
   "late, quick review" case and the nature of the General Area's

   Each review must start with a summary statement chosen from or
   adapted from the following list:

   o  This draft is ready for publication as a [type] RFC, where [type]
      is Informational, Experimental, etc.  (In some cases, the review
      might recommend publication as a different [type] than requested
      by the author.)
   o  This draft is basically ready for publication, but has nits that
      should be fixed before publication.
   o  This draft is on the right track but has open issues, described in
      the review.
   o  This draft has serious issues, described in the review, and needs
      to be rethought.
   o  This draft has very fundamental issues, described in the review,
      and further work is not recommended.
   o  Unfortunately, I don't have the expertise to review this draft.

   The length of a review can vary greatly according to circumstances,
   and it is considered acceptable for purely editorial comments to be
   sent privately if it's obvious that the I-D needs substantial
   revision.  All substantive comments, however, must be included in the
   public review.  Wherever possible, comments should be written as
   suggestions for improvement rather than as simple criticism.
   Explicit references to prior work and prior IETF discussion should be
   given whenever possible.

   Reviewers are asked to review for all kinds of problems, from basic
   architectural or security issues, Internet-wide impact, technical
   nits, problems of form and format (such as IANA Considerations or
   incorrect references), and editorial issues.  Since these reviews are
   on I-Ds that are supposed to be finished, the review should consider
   "no issue too small" - but should cover the whole range from the
   general architectural level to the editorial level.

   All reviews should apply generally agreed IETF criteria, such as:

   o  [RFC1958]: The Architectural Principles of the Internet
   o  [RFC3426]: General Architectural and Policy Considerations
   o  [RFC3439]: Some Internet Architectural Guidelines and Philosophy
   o  ID-Checklist: The "ID checklist" document maintained by the IESG
   o  [I-D.rfc-editor-rfc2223bis]: Instructions to RFC Authors
   o  [RFC5226]: BCP 26 - Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations
      Section in RFCs

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   o  [RFC3552]: Guidelines for Writing RFC Text on Security
   o  As well as any other applicable architectural or procedural
      documents.  It is considered important that reviews give precise
      references to such criteria when relevant to a comment.

   Of special interest to the General area, because it does not fall
   under any other area:

   o  Clear description of why the I-D or protocol is useful to the
   o  Adherence to IETF formalities such as capitalized "must",
      "should", etc. in normative statements, per the ID-Checklist.
   o  Useful and reasonable IANA considerations.  Ensure that all
      necessary registries are defined/referenced and ensure definition
      and compliance with IANA assignment criteria.
   o  Correct dependencies for normative references.
   o  That it's written in reasonably clear English.
   o  Checking the updates/obsoletes information.
   o  Running idnits and checking the output.
   o  Checking that things imported by reference especially from other
      RFCs make sense (notably definitions of terms, security
      considerations, lists of criteria)and ensure they are used as
      intended by the referenced document.
   o  Examples (eg FQDNs, telephone numbers, IP addresses) are taken
      from the right spaces.

4.4.  Gen-ART Process Overview

   The following provides a general overview of the Gen-ART process
   along with some basic rules associated with assignments.  The very
   precise details of the secretary's process are provided in Section 5.

   o  The availability of reviewers and the order of assignments for the
      next round of Last Call document assignments is updated weekly and
      is available on the directory where all the assignments and
      reviews are cached.
   o  At telechat assignment time, all previously reviewed I-Ds are
      assigned to the reviewer who reviewed them previously, assuming
      that reviewer is available.  Otherwise, these I-Ds are assigned to
      a new person in the process described below.
   o  The secretary attempts to avoid assigning I-Ds that might conflict
      with other IETF roles such as WG chairs, other directorates, etc.
      However, in the cases where the secretary doesn't note the
      conflict, the reviewer should notify the secretary and gen-art
      mailing list so another reviewer may be assigned.

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   o  It should be emphasized that assignment is never made according to
      a reviewer's technical specialty.  Even though it happens, when,
      for example, routing I-Ds fall on routing experts or MIBs fall on
      MIB doctors, it is coincidental.  To the reviewer, the choice
      looks random.
   o  There is an attempt to evenly distribute I-Ds amongst reviewers at
      LC time by using a round robin process, starting from where the
      previous week's assignments stopped.
   o  Typically, there is no attempt made to actually equalize the load
      as the length and complexity of the I-Ds is not taken into account
      in this process.  (Thus, a reviewer could end up with a couple of
      hundred-page I-Ds, but this is statistically rare.)  However, in
      the case of a reviewer that might receive more than one new LC I-D
      at one time, the secretary does try to ensure that both are not
      large I-Ds.
   o  Once the assignments are made, the web pages that list the reviews
      and the assignments are posted.  Since the telechat agenda is not
      published until the end of the day on the Thursdays prior to the
      telechats (i.e., one week prior to), the secretary needs to
      complete the assignments on that Thursday evening.  This often
      requires working later in the evening and also requires an
      Internet connection even when traveling.
   o  If the reviewers notice any problems or conflict of interest, a
      bargaining process, shifting I-Ds from one reviewer to another,
      takes place.  The secretary updates the assignment files with any
      new assignments.
   o  Once the review has been completed the reviewer sends the review
      to the Gen-ART list, ideally using the template provided in the
      review assignment emails.  Typically, reviews are also sent to
      authors, the responsible AD and the WG chairs/document shepherd.
      The only case where this might not be done is when there are no
      issues found for a re-review and none had been found on an initial
      review.  Sending the review to the authors, ADs and/or WG chairs/
      Proto Shepherds was originally voluntary but is now considered
      standard practice.  Reviewers may also send the reviews to the
      IETF discussion list, but that is entirely at the discretion of
      the reviewer, in which case the author must be copied on the
      review to ensure they see any follow-up discussion.  Reviewers may
      also send the comments to the WG, however, this typically causes
      the review to end up in the moderation queue, as most reviewers do
      not want to subscribe to the WG lists for the I-Ds they review.
      Thus, it is expected that any of the original recipients (i.e.,
      authors, WG chairs/document shepherd or responsible AD) may
      forward the review to the WG mailing list if they believe it is
      necessary.  In the past, sending these reviews resulted in
      confusion among the authors, who may not have been expecting a
      Gen-ART review and may not be familiar with Gen-ART.  Thus,
      reviewers are reminded to pre-pend the description of Gen-ART and

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      the purpose of the review.  This information is part of the
      standard template provided in the review assignment emails.
   o  The secretary gathers the reviews, sometimes edits them for
      format, records the review in the spreadsheet on the web pages,
      including the synopsis.  This is typically done on Thursday.  This
      is one aspect of the process that can be easily delegated such
      that one volunteer uploads all the reviews and then the secretary
      need only update the fields in the spreadsheet.  If the reviewer
      has not provided a synopsis ("Summary" field in the template), the
      secretary makes a best guess based on the review details.  Note
      that in most cases the reviewers do include a synopsis.
   o  Ideally the reviews should be posted to the gen-art mailing list
      by close of business on the East coast on Tuesday.  This is
      necessary to allow the General AD time to consider the reviews
      prior to the telechat.  If the reviews are received after Tuesday
      the review may not be read by the AD before the IESG telechat.
      Due to time constraints, the spreadsheets containing review
      summaries/assignments are only updated on Thursday evenings when
      the new LC assignments and upcoming telechat assignments are done.
      Ideally, the reviews would get uploaded on the Tuesdays prior to
      the telechat along with the updated spreadsheets.
   o  If the AD concludes that the concerns raised by the reviewer
      warrant placing a DISCUSS comment on the I-D, the AD will do so,
      and the DISCUSS must be resolved before the I-D advances.
      Usually, the reviewer will be involved in the resolution process,
      but the responsibility for the DISCUSS rests with the AD.

5.  Secretarial Process

   This section summarizes the details of managing the review materials,
   including the spreadsheet used to track all reviews and the HTML
   files containing the review assignments.

5.1.  Maintaining review spreadsheet

   A spreadsheet is used to enter all the I-Ds at the time of assignment
   and to capture all the reviews.  For IETF LC assignments, the
   assignments are completed before adding the I-Ds to the spreadsheet
   as described in Section 5.2.  For telechat assignments I-Ds are
   obviously only added in the cases where there is no previous LC
   assignment.  For the other I-Ds, the appropriate fields are updated
   as described in Section 5.3

   All the reviews can be accessed from the spreadsheet via hyperlinks
   from specific fields as summarized below.  The following information
   is maintained in the spreadsheet (in the order listed):

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   1.  "Chat/LC Date": indicates either the date on which the LC review
       is due or the date of the telechat.
   2.  "Document": Filename for the I-D, which includes a hyperlink to
       the IETF I-D tracker.
   3.  "Assigned": Name of the reviewer assigned to that I-D.
   4.  "Category": This field contains one of the following self
       explanatory values: "Doc - WG", "Doc - Ind/AD", or "IETF LC".
       Note that Gen-ART does not review I-Ds submitted directly to the
       RFC editor.  The "IETF LC" field is entered obviously for all
       I-Ds at LC time.  It is changed to one of the other appropriate
       fields, based on the information in the telechat agenda
   5.  "Previous Review": This includes a link to any previous reviews.
       For example, when a doc appears on a telechat agenda, if an IETF
       LC review was done, this field is updated with the review summary
       for the LC review (i.e., the information from the "Current Review
       Summary" as described below is copied to this column).  The field
       is set to "New" when an I-D is first assigned/added to the
       spreadsheet.  In the case of returns, this field has a value of
       "Return" or "Return/IETF-LC" for I-Ds for which there is an LC
       review.  It should be noted that since Gen-ART started doing
       reviews at LC time, there seem to be far fewer returns on the
   6.  "Current Review Summary": This field includes the review type and
       version number of the document which is to be reviewed or has
       been reviewed (e.g., LC: -02).  When the field also contains a
       review summary after the review type/version number (e.g.,
       Telechat: -06 Ready), the active hyperlink points to the review.
       Occasionally, a reviewer will re-review an I-D prior to its
       telechat assignment, in which case it is added to the spreadsheet
       but the date does not change to maintain consistency in the date
       field, since the reviews themselves contain the review date.

   The following summarizes the steps to add a new I-D to the

   1.  In order to optimize steps, blank rows are first inserted for the
       number of new I-Ds to be added.
   2.  To minimize data entry, a row with default fields (including the
       links for the hyperlinks) is kept at the end of the file.  There
       is a separate default row for IETF LC versus Telechat
       assignments.  This row is copied into each of the new blank rows.
       The dates are then entered (this allows the double checking that
       all I-Ds are accounted for from the review assignments,
       especially LC).
   3.  The I-D name is then copied to the name field as well as being
       appended to the hyperlink for the "Review Summary" field.  The
       hyperlink is included as part of the default row.  This minimizes
       the steps in enter the reviews in the spreadsheet.

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   4.  The data is also sorted by "Chat/LC Date", "Assigned" and
       "Document".  The file is then saved and closed.
   5.  The file is then reopened and saved as HTML.
   6.  The file is opened a second time and sorted by "Assigned",
       "Chat/LC Date" and "Document" to provide the I-D reviewers an
       easy way to find any outstanding assignments.

5.2.  Last Call Assignment procedure

   The secretary can cache the Last Call assignments as they are
   announced and/or check the IETF announcement mailing list archives.
   The assignments are done on Thursday evening, along with any telechat
   assignments.  This optimizes the process in terms of batch changes to

   The assignments are listed in an HTML file.  The following are the
   steps in creating that file:

   1.  The order of assignment is actually created the week before, with
       the details below.  Thus, before starting the new assignments the
       current file is saved for editing for the following week.  The
       current filenaming convention is "reviewersyymmdd-lc.html" (e.g.,
       for July 8th, 2010, the file reviewers100708-lc.html was created
       and the file for the following week is named reviewers100715-
   2.  Since the file is already prepared with the appropriate ordering
       of reviewers, the assignments are done in the order of due dates.
       The link to the I-D in the datatracker is copied into the
       assignment file along with the intended RFC status for each of
       the new LC I-Ds.
   3.  The "Due Date" paragraph from the Last Call announcement is
       shortened as follows: "IETF LC ends on:", keeping the date.
   4.  Once the assignment file is complete, the new I-Ds are added to
       the spreadsheet as described in above.
   5.  The assignment file for the next week is then updated to reflect
       the next reviewer in the round robin process, by simply cutting
       and pasting the names in the list in a block and removing any
       "one doc per month" reviewers (annotated with an "*") that have
       already received their monthly assignment.  If the next round of
       assignments occurs at the beginning of a new month, the "one doc
       per month" reviewers are added back into the list (in the normal
       "by first name alphabetical order").
   6.  The assignment files and updated spreadsheets are then cached on
       the Gen-ART server.
   7.  An email providing a link to the assignment file, along with the
       updated spreadsheets is sent to the gen-art mailing list.  This
       email has a standard form, such that the reviewers can simply cut
       and paste the template to include the Gen-ART context statement

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       and link to FAQ.

5.3.  Telechat Assignment procedure

   Since LC assignments are now the starting point for Gen-ART I-D
   reviews, the telechat assignments are generally straightforward as
   the majority of the I-Ds are already in the spreadsheet.  The
   following details the steps:

   1.  The telechat agenda is typically available around 6PM PDT.  In
       order to create the assignment HTML file, the agenda is created
       from the email announcing the upcoming telechat agenda.  The
       filename has the following format, with the date corresponding to
       the telechat date (versus the data of assignment as is the case
       for last call assignments): "reviewersyymmdd".html.
   2.  Rows are added to the agenda for the reviewer's name.
   3.  The reviewers names are then added to the weekly assignment file.
   4.  As each reviewer is added to the assignment file, the review
       spreadsheet is updated as follows:
       *  "Chat/LC Date" is changed to the telechat date.
       *  The link to the LC review, if available, is copied as the link
          for the "Previous Review" column.
       *  The "text" for the "Current Review" is updated to reflect the
          new review type (i.e., Telechat) and version.
   5.  In the case of an I-D that did not go through IETF LC, a reviewer
       is assigned using the order in the file to be used for Last Call
       assignments for the next week.
   6.  Once the reviewer(s) have been determined, the LC assignment file
       for the next week is updated.
   7.  Any new I-Ds are then added to the spreadsheet (and the updates
       saved) per the steps as described in Section 5.1.
   8.  The assignment files and updated spreadsheets are then cached on
       the server used for Gen-ART.
   9.  An email providing a link to the assignment file, along with the
       updated spreadsheets is sent to the gen-art mailing list.  This
       email has a standard form, such that the reviewers can simply cut
       and paste the template to include the Gen-ART context statement
       and link to FAQ.

5.4.  Capturing reviews

   As noted in Section 4.4 the spreadsheet is typically updated with the
   review summaries on Thursday evenings just prior to entering the data
   for that week's LC and any Telechat assignments.  The following
   summarizes the steps to capture the reviews:

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   1.  Currently, a volunteer is assisting the secretary in caching the
       email reviews as they arrive.
   2.  In the cases where the review is included inline in the body of
       the email, the review is cut and pasted into a text file and
       saved with the reviewers last name appended to the filename -
       e.g., draft-ietf-xyz-00-smith.txt .
   3.  In the case where the review is included as an attachment to the
       email, the file can be directly saved and uploaded.
   4.  The volunteer uploads the reviews by around 5pm CST on Thursdays,
       thus they are available to the secretary at the time that weeks
       assignments are done.  This sequence is necessary to ensure the
       information for I-Ds on the upcoming telechat is up-to-date.
   5.  The review summary is entered into the the "Current Summary"
       field.  Noting that the hyperlink to the review (added at
       assignment time) will automatically work when the file is
   6.  Once all the reviews have been entered and the spreadsheets
       formatted, the review spreadsheet is saved and files uploaded per
       the last three steps in Section 5.1.

6.  Results

   Over the past 7 years, the Gen-ART has provided reviewing services to
   3 ADs and has done around two thousand publicly available reviews.
   The reviews have been executed with a team of around a dozen full-
   time reviewers and other reviewers receiving one I-D assignment each
   month.  There are currently 9 reviewers in the latter category.  The
   full-time reviewers receive 2-3 assignments each month.  In terms of
   improving quality, the number of I-Ds that are now ready at the time
   of the telechat since the reviews are now initiated at LC time has
   increased.  Based on the data from 2007, there were over 250 I-Ds
   that were assigned at LC time that went through IESG review.  Of
   those 250 I-Ds, 80% of the LC reviews were completed (205 I-Ds).  Of
   the completed reviews about 75% (144 I-Ds) were "Ready" at the time
   of the telechat.  Of those 144 I-Ds, roughly 1/4 had been deemed
   "Ready" (with no nits) at LC time (based on a sample of 50 reviews).
   For the I-Ds that were not reviewed at LC time, only about 1/4 of
   those were deemed "Ready" when they were reviewed for the telechat.
   So, doing the gen-art reviews at Last Call time does seem to improve
   the quality of the I-Ds for the telechat.

7.  Impressions

   This section is divided into 3 subsections, the impressions as
   gathered from the Gen-ART, the impressions of the ADs for whom they
   worked, and the impressions of the secretaries of Gen-ART.

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7.1.  Reviewers' Impressions

   The following list of comments are excerpted and edited from comments
   sent in by the reviewers of Gen-ART in response to the request:

   "We'd like to ask you each to write a few lines about your personal
   experience and lessons learned as a Gen-ART reviewer."

   o  We really do find problems, but we don't find problems with most
   o  Comments seem to be in three areas: editorial/grammar, editorial/
      what-the-heck-does-this-mean, and actual problems.  I'm seeing
      fewer reviews in the first category, which is a good thing.
   o  It is becoming rarer that we hear back "these guys have suffered
      enough, I'm voting no objection" (I'm remembering an LDAP I-D that
      had been around so long it had 2119 referenced AS A DRAFT - some
      people suffered a lot).
   o  The direct assignment of reviews is necessary and effective.  It
      does not matter much as far as I can tell what scheme is used to
      actually do the assignment.
   o  Folks are very open to the reviews that come out of Gen-ART.  This
      somewhat surprised me because I have seen resistance to outside
      reviews in other cases.
   o  The improvements that have come about (for example one of my
      latest, the sipping conference draft - whatever the outcome) have
      made a big difference to the comprehensibility and usability of
      the I-Ds - and provide a useful incentive to keep going.
   o  Some form of review like this is desperately needed.  While most
      of the stuff we see is good, every once in a while really bad
      errors have made their way all the way to IESG vote.
   o  Reading this stuff is interesting.  I like having a reason to read
      a wide range of materials.
   o  I am more than convinced that this can be and is a valuable
      process.  It is IMO a pity that SIRS and so on did not take off,
      because this late stage reviewing is a poor substitute for doing
      the same thing at a much earlier stage.  Very few of the drafts
      that have come past my screen are truly fully ready for IESG
      review.  It is actually a joy to find the occasional nugget that
      is both well written and is a proper technical job, such that the
      review really can say 'This is ready'.
   o  I have certainly found the process intellectually stimulating!  It
      encourages me to take a wider interest in what is going on in the
      IETF, but consumes a fair bit of time to do a proper job, and
      requires a very wide knowledge to be able to properly catch the
      cross-area implications: I hope (believe!) that this is something
      that one gets better at with experience and doing a few of these

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   o  There are probably a very limited pool of people who have both the
      time and the inclination to keep on doing these reviews.  It does
      require a fair bit of dedication.
   o  It is difficult to avoid correcting the English, even if that is
      not really the point: Often really bad English (whether as a
      result of non-mother tongue authors with limited grasp or mother
      tongue authors using informal language) obscures/corrupts what is
      being said or just makes it impossible to read.
   o  Mostly authors welcome the comments: I think most of them
      understand the concept of 'ego-free reviewing' and we have
      generally been constructive rather than destructive.
   o  Part of the job of Gen-ART is to think the unthinkable from
      another point of view, to challenge (apparently undocumented)
      assumptions and apply experience from other fields.

7.2.  General Area Directors' Impressions

   It should be noted that these impressions are from multiple General
   Area Directors' thus the "I"s are not necessarily associated with a
   specific AD.

   o  It's essential.  The reviewing load for the IESG <shout>DOES NOT
   o  Without Gen-ART, I would be a much less effective General AD.
   o  On a single fortnight example, the IESG had 21 drafts on the
      agenda.  It is just impossible (to conscientiously review all the
      documents), and no wonder we sometimes miss serious issues.
   o  So I think a distributed review team with o(30) trusted reviewers
      needs to be institutionalized.  I suspect that will need to be
      formalized in a BCP sooner or later - with their reviews having a
      formal position in the standards process, and the expectation that
      the whole IESG truly reviews all I-Ds being relaxed.
   o  We've learned that polite, well reasoned, constructive reviews are
      very positively received by authors and WGs.  Dismissive reviews
      are counter-productive.  And reviews sent in private eventually
      show up in public, so it's better to go public at the start.
   o  Normally, LC reviews are available in good time for the draft to
      be revised before reaching the IESG agenda.  It is important that
      this happens, except for an emergency situation where the
      responsible AD has good reason to place the draft on the agenda
      immediately.  In that case it would be preferable for the AD to
      inform the Gen-ART team, so that the review can be expedited.
   o  The other problem is a big detail - between late Thursday or early
      Friday when the secretary sends out the assignments, and Wednesday
      when the General Area AD likes to start filling in ballots based
      on the reviews received by COB on Tuesday, there are only three
      work days (plus possible volunteer time over the weekend).  Now
      even with only one I-D to review, that may be a real challenge.

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      Sometimes, a lucky reviewer will get 130 pages (e.g.
      draft-ietf-nntpext-base-27).  That doesn't compute.
   o  There are some mechanical issues.  The process followed is far too
      manual.  Everything needs to be robotic except for the judgment
      calls about which reviewer gets which draft.  Similarly, the
      reviewer should be able to just paste the review into a web form,
      click, and it's sent off to everyone appropriate and posted to the
      review site.

7.3.  Gen-ART Secretaries' Impressions

   Serving as the secretary of Gen-ART is a worthwhile experience.  From
   a personal point of view, it gives the secretary an easy way to track
   all of the work going through the IESG review process and see how the
   work flowed through that process.  Also, by reviewing and sometimes
   creating the one line abstracts that go on the review web page, the
   secretary has an opportunity to really get a survey of the work being
   approved by the IETF.

   The nature of these reviews is informal, and originally the reviews
   were only intended for the General Area AD, though they were made
   public.  During 2004 there was little if any interaction between
   authors and reviewers.  There was some discussion during 2004 about
   trying to expand the role of Gen-ART to a more formal, early review
   model, i.e to evolve it into a form of SIRS.  The original Gen-ART
   secretary was against such a transformation because she felt it would
   risk something that worked.  She believed that the risk was inherent
   in formalizing the reviews and in adding mechanisms for standardizing
   the review mechanisms that would resort from formalization.  Another
   concern involves the interaction between reviewers and authors.  As
   discussed above, it has become the practice to send reviews to the
   authors with an explanation about the nature of Gen-ART reviews.
   While it is clear that this has resulted in improved RFCs, it has
   also resulted in increased work load for the reviewers.

   The secretary thinks that Gen-ART as an experiment that works well,
   but the secretary believes it is fragile.  The secretary is often
   concerned about overburdening reviewers, and feels it is her
   responsibility to keep them from burning out.  Adding additional
   reviewers to the review team would help to alleviate this concern.
   In terms of the process, adding additional reviewers has minimal

8.  Needed Improvements

   The current size of the review team introduces a fairly heavy
   workload for the individual reviewers that are not on the "one doc

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   per month" assignment cycle.  Additional reviewers would be really
   helpful to alleviate this workload.  It is also important to note
   that having additional reviewers adds minimal workload to the
   secretary's process, thus the only blocking point is finding the
   right folks that are interested in this type of volunteer role.  As
   noted in Section 7.2, 30 would be a good size for the review team.
   This would cut the workload for an individual reviewer in half (given
   the current model of 9 reviewers on the "one doc per month"
   assignment cycle).

   Obviously, automation of the process would be a good thing.  However,
   Gen-ART secretaries are not necessarily highly motivated to
   transition to a more automated approach until a significant part of
   the process is automated.  In more recent consideration of this
   situation, it likely would be best to first automate the process of
   entering the reviews, as that benefits the review team as a whole.
   This automation should allow the reviewers to enter the reviews via a
   web interface that would automatically generate the appropriate
   emails - quite similar to how the draft "Upload" tool currently
   works.  Also, given consistent naming conventions for the review
   forms, this step would automate some of the process for the
   secretary, as the reviews would automatically appear via the
   spreadsheet hyperlinks, although there would still be a need to
   manually enter the summary.  But, this would eliminate the need to
   edit/normalize and upload files.  And, hopefully, eliminate the
   problem encountered with unflowed text in emails and getting the
   review properly formatted using some text editors.

   Section 5 was written to facilitate the process of determining tools
   requirements, by providing the very detailed steps currently applied
   to the process.  As noted above, automating the upload of the reviews
   could be a good first step.  This is somewhat starting at the end of
   the process.  However, it seems that by automating in this direction,
   we may have optimal results, since one of the earliest steps in the
   process is the task of assiging reviewers it likely needs the most
   manual intervention, even with tools available.

   The current SecDir secretary does use some tools for assignments and
   generating assignment emails.  These tools could be considered for
   use by the Gen-ART secretary.  Since the SecDir reviews are not
   cached and the information maintained for those reviews is less
   detailed, there would be no reusability of that aspect.  However, if
   the Gen-ART spreadsheet can be automatically populated (with
   assignments and completed reviews), the SecDir may be able to make
   use of that same tool.

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9.  Applicability

   As implemented today, the process has no formal role in the IETF
   standards process.  But as trust in the review team has built, and as
   the team itself has learned to deliver reviews that are generally
   well received, they have had a significant impact on I-D quality and
   on timeliness.  Rather than becoming a roadblock, they have (in
   general) allowed the General AD to feel more confident in reaching
   decisions and be more precise in resolving issues.  Since reviews now
   typically appear during IETF Last Call, the reviews like the SecDir
   reviews are now generally expected.  So, the role of the team has
   evolved to be more formal than in the past (i.e., when this I-D was
   first published in 2005).  However, the handling of the reviews
   remain entirely within the scope of the ADs, document shepherds, WG
   chairs and authors as they deem appropriate.

10.  Security considerations

   Since this is an informational I-D about an open process, the
   security considerations are specific to the process and users
   involved in the process.  The primary concern would be to limit the
   people that have the ability to create and update the Gen-ART data/
   files to ensure that the integrity of the data is maintained.  For
   example, each Gen-ART reviewer should have a unique user name/
   password, just as folks do to access any other IETF maintained data,
   as appropriate.

11.  IANA considerations

   As this is an informational I-D about an IETF process, there are no
   IANA considerations.

12.  Acknowledgments

   Initial comments were received from the members of the Gen-ART team
   and the experiences discussed in this I-D were derived from their
   hard work over the last 7+ years.  We thank the past reviewers of the
   Gen-ART team:
      Mark Allman
      Harald Alvestrand (creator of Gen-ART)
      Ron Bonica

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      Scott Brim
      Gonzalo Camarillo
      Sharon Chisholm
      Spencer Dawkins
      Lakshminath Dondeti
      Avri Doria (past secretary)
      Pasi Eronen
      Dorothy Gellert
      Eric Gray
      Avashalom Houri
      Glenn Kowack
      John Loughney
      Lucy Lynch
      Enrico Marocco
      Michael Patton
      Stefan Santesson
      Robert Sparks
      Tom Taylor
      Sean Turner
      Christian Vogt
      Suzannne Woolf

   As well as the current team of reviewers/secretary:
      Mary Barnes (past secretary, 2005-2010)
      Richard Barnes
      David Black
      Ben Campbell
      Brian Carpenter (past GEN AD)
      Elwyn Davies
      Francis Dupont
      Roni Even
      Miguel-Angel Garcia
      Vijay Gurbani (assisting secretary to upload reviews)
      Wassim Haddad
      Joel Halpern
      Suresh Krishnan
      Peter McCann
      Jean Mahoney (secretary as of Jan. 2011)
      Alexey Melnikov
      Kathleen Moriarty

13.  Changes since Last Version

   Changes between 03 and 04:

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   1.  Updates based on pre-publication review including:
       *  Editorial.
       *  Changing the terms "documents" and "drafts" to "I-Ds".
       *  Removed all references to "PROTO".
   2.  Updates to reflect changes in the spreadsheet format and general
   3.  Removing the name of the spreadsheet tool as any spreadsheet tool
       should work.

   Changes between 02 and 03:

   1.  Updated to reflect current practices such as another volunteer
       uploading the reviews, the spreadsheet only being updated on
       Thursdays and the movement of the reviews to another server.
   2.  Updated step by step details on the secretary's process to
       facilitate tools requirements.
   3.  Updated lists of reviewers.
   4.  Added the documents which provide the baseline for reviews to the
       informational reference section.

   Changes between 01 to 02:

   1.  Updated to reflect current practices such as assignment at Last
       Call time being the norm, standard template for reviews/emails,
       new members of team, comments from current secretary, General
       Area AD and review team members.
   2.  Removed previous comments in the "Impressions" section that are
       no longer germane such as problems with no standard boilerplate,
       problems with LC reviews, etc.
   3.  Added step by step details on the secretary's process to
       facilitate tools requirements.
   4.  Added the documents which provide the baseline for reviews to the
       informal reference section.

14.  Informative References

   [RFC1958]  Carpenter, B., "Architectural Principles of the Internet",
              RFC 1958, June 1996.

   [RFC3426]  Floyd, S., "General Architectural and Policy
              Considerations", RFC 3426, November 2002.

   [RFC3439]  Bush, R. and D. Meyer, "Some Internet Architectural
              Guidelines and Philosophy", RFC 3439, December 2002.

              Reynolds, J. and R. Braden, "Instructions to Request for

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              Comments (RFC) Authors", draft-rfc-editor-rfc2223bis-08
              (work in progress), July 2004.

   [RFC5226]  Narten, T. and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an
              IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 5226,
              May 2008.

   [RFC3552]  Rescorla, E. and B. Korver, "Guidelines for Writing RFC
              Text on Security Considerations", BCP 72, RFC 3552,
              July 2003.

Authors' Addresses

   Mary Barnes


   Avri Doria
   Lulea University of Technology


   Harald Alvestrand
   Beddingen 10
   Trondheim  7014


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   Brian E Carpenter
   University of Auckland
   PB 92019
   Auckland, 1142
   New Zealand


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