On Consensus and Humming in the IETF
draft-resnick-on-consensus-05

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Document Type Active Internet-Draft (individual in gen area)
Author Pete Resnick 
Last updated 2013-10-23 (latest revision 2013-10-04)
Stream IETF
Intended RFC status Informational
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Internet Engineering Task Force                               P. Resnick
Internet-Draft                               Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Intended status: Informational                          October 04, 2013
Expires: April 07, 2014

                  On Consensus and Humming in the IETF
                     draft-resnick-on-consensus-05

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 is a collection of thoughts on what rough
   consensus is, how we have gotten away from it, and the things we can
   do in order to really achieve rough consensus.

      Note (to be removed before publication): 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
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 07, 2014.

Copyright Notice

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   Copyright (c) 2013 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
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   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 . . . .   3
   3.  Rough consensus is achieved when all issues are addressed,
       but not necessarily accommodated  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Humming should be the start of a conversation, not the end  .   7
   5.  Consensus is the path, not the destination  . . . . . . . . .  10
   6.  One hundred people for and five people against might not be
       rough consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   7.  Five people for and one hundred people against might still be
       rough consensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   8.  Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   9.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   10. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15

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 make the
   decisions, nor do we let the majority dictate decisions, nor do we
   allow decisions to be made in a vacuum without practical experience.
   Instead, decisions are made by (more or less) consent of all
   participants, and the actual products of engineering trump
   theoretical designs.  Our ideal is full consensus, but we don't
   require it: Full consensus would allow a single intransigent person

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