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Versions: 00                                                            
None                                                      B.E. Carpenter
Internet-Draft                                         Univ. of Auckland
Intended status: Informational                        September 11, 2020
Expires: March 15, 2021

          Open Letter to the 2020-21 IETF Nominating Committee


   This is a personal open letter to the IETF Nominating Committee for

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 https://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 March 15, 2021.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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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   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
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   provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Internet-Draft            Letter to 2020 NomCom           September 2020

Table of Contents

   1.  Letter  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3

1.  Letter

   Dear NomCom members,

   Thank you for serving on NomCom.  It's not an easy task.

   This is an open letter.  These are general remarks intentionally
   exposed to the whole IETF community, by posting as an I-D.  I do not
   intend to update this I-D, although of course community comments are

   The IETF is at a critical moment.  Various pressures have been
   building up for several years.  They have been made worse by COVID-
   19, since face-to-face contact reduces misunderstandings.  Clearly,
   change is needed.  You are therefore possibly the most important
   NomCom since the first one in 1992.

   We should not blame the individuals currently in service for the
   pressures that have arisen.  Everybody has tried to do their best.
   But nevertheless, your choices for the empty seats in March 2021
   matter a lot.

   Of course, we need technical experts.  The IETF will no longer be the
   IETF if you appoint people to the IESG and IAB who are not highly
   competent engineers.  But in addition, we need people with a deep
   understanding of and belief in the IETF's approach to standards-
   making.  We need people who believe in rough consensus as the best
   way to make effective standards, who will never use their leadership
   position to bias the consensus, yet will use their technical skills
   to achieve the best possible result.  They must be open to change,
   and also act as agents of change themsleves.  And of course, they
   must leave loyalty to their own employers at the door.  If this
   sounds like an impossible target, that's because it is, but we must

   A specific problem I have noticed in recent years is that the barrier
   for Proposed Standard publication has been pushed ever higher.  Often
   this is due to IESG "DISCUSS" positions that arguably breach the
   IESG's own criteria for a DISCUSS, and that do not correspond to the
   RFC2026 definition of Proposed Standard:

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Internet-Draft            Letter to 2020 NomCom           September 2020

  "A Proposed Standard specification is generally stable, has resolved
   known design choices, is believed to be well-understood, has received
   significant community review, and appears to enjoy enough community
   interest to be considered valuable.  However, further experience
   might result in a change or even retraction of the specification
   before it advances."

   In other words, a PS must be good enough, but not perfect.  A PS
   might contain errors and might fail.  It is important that all IESG
   members understand and practice this.  If not, IETF progress is
   severely slowed down; to get running code, we need rough consensus,
   not perfection.

   Another general problem I have sometimes noticed among IESG and IAB
   members is a failure to treat their roles as servants of the
   community and its consensus, but rather to behave as if they are in
   charge.  I don't want to give specific examples, because that might
   seem to point at individuals, and that is not my goal.  But it's
   important that (however the outside world views their roles) they
   remember every day that they are the servants and the community is in

   It's very hard work being an IESG member, and demanding work to be an
   IAB member.  The community should be grateful that there are always
   people willing to take on these roles.  However, I urge NomCom to
   carefully verify that all the nominees understand their roles, and
   that they are motivated to change and improve the IETF.

   Best wishes for your work, and again, thank you.

         Brian Carpenter

2.  Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

3.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no request of IANA.

Author's Address

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Internet-Draft            Letter to 2020 NomCom           September 2020

   Brian E. Carpenter
   The University of Auckland
   School of Computer Science
   PB 92019
   Auckland 1142
   New Zealand

   Email: brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com

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