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On Consensus and Humming in the IETF
draft-resnick-on-consensus-07

Document type: Active Internet-Draft (individual in gen area)
Document stream: IETF
Last updated: 2014-04-15
Intended RFC status: Informational
Other versions: plain text, xml, pdf, html

IETF State: (None)
Consensus: Unknown
Document shepherd: No shepherd assigned

IESG State: Approved-announcement to be sent::AD Followup
IANA Action State: None
Responsible AD: Jari Arkko
Send notices to: presnick@qti.qualcomm.com, draft-resnick-on-consensus@tools.ietf.org

Internet Engineering Task Force                               P. Resnick
Internet-Draft                               Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Intended status: Informational                            April 15, 2014
Expires: October 17, 2014

                  On Consensus and Humming in the IETF
                     draft-resnick-on-consensus-07

Abstract

   The IETF has had a long tradition of doing its technical work through
   a consensus process, taking into account the different views among
   IETF participants and coming to (at least rough) consensus on
   technical matters.  In particular, the IETF is supposed not to be run
   by a "majority rule" philosophy.  This is why we engage in rituals
   like "humming" instead of voting.  However, more and more of our
   actions are now indistinguishable from voting, and quite often we are
   letting the majority win the day without consideration of minority
   concerns.  This document explains some features of rough consensus,
   what is not rough consensus, how we have gotten away from it, how we
   might think about it differently, and the things we can do in order
   to really achieve rough consensus.

      Note: This document is quite consciously being put forward as
      Informational.  It does not propose to change any IETF processes
      and is therefore not a BCP.  It is simply a collection of
      principles, hopefully around which the IETF can come to (at least
      rough) consensus.

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 http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   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 October 17, 2014.

Resnick                 Expires October 17, 2014                [Page 1]
Internet-Draft                On Consensus                    April 2014

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2014 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
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) 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
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Lack of disagreement is more important than agreement . . . .   4
   3.  Rough consensus is achieved when all issues are addressed,
       but not necessarily accommodated  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Humming should be the start of a conversation, not the end  .   9
   5.  Consensus is the path, not the destination  . . . . . . . . .  12
   6.  One hundred people for and five people against might not be
       rough consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   7.  Five people for and one hundred people against might still be
       rough consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   8.  Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   9.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   10. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18

1.  Introduction

   Almost every IETF participant knows the aphorism from Dave Clark's
   1992 plenary presentation [Clark] regarding how we make decisions in
   the IETF:

      We reject: kings, presidents and voting.

      We believe in: rough consensus and running code.

   That is, our credo is that we don't let a single individual dictate
   decisions (a king or president), nor should decisions be made by a
   vote, nor do we want decisions to be made in a vacuum without
   practical experience.  Instead, we strive to make our decisions by
   the consent of all participants, though allowing for some dissent

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