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Versions: 00 01 02                                                      
Network Working Group                                      M. Kuehlewind
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Informational                             16 March 2021
Expires: 17 September 2021

        Guidelines for the Organization of Fully Online Meetings


   This document provides guidelines for the planning and organization
   of fully online meetings, regarding the number, length, and
   composition of sessions on the meeting agenda.  These guideline are
   based on the experience after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Discussion Venues

   This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

   Discussion of this document takes place on the Stay Home Meet Only
   Online Working Group mailing list (manycouches@ietf.org), which is
   archived at https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/browse/manycouches/.

   Source for this draft and an issue tracker can be found at

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
   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 17 September 2021.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (https://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.  Some History  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Guidelines for Online Meeting Planning  . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     3.1.  Time Zone Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     3.2.  Number of Days and Total Hours per Day  . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.3.  Session/Break Length  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.4.  Number of Parallel Tracks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.5.  Full vs. limited agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Chances and Lessons Learnt  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   6.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   7.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic forced the IETF to move all its plenary
   meeting to online only events.  This document mainly records the
   experience gained by holding all three plenary meetings in 2020 fully
   online and noting down the guidelines that have been followed since.
   The aim of this document is to determine rough consensus of these
   guidelines in the sense that the most participants are sufficiently
   satisfied with the current organization of fully online events.
   These guidelines, however, document only one option of running fully
   online meeting and, similar as done for in-person meetings, changes
   to the organization the meetings and the meeting agenda should be
   experimented with.

2.  Some History

   When the WHO declared a world-wide pandemic in March 2020, the IETF
   had to cancel its plenary impromptu and organize an online
   replacement instead (within less than two weeks).  At that point for
   this first online only meeting, the agenda was reduced to a set of
   sessions that benefits most from cross-area participation, like BoFs,
   first time meetings of a new working groups, or dispatch sessions, as
   well as the plenary in order to organize the official hand-over

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   procedures that occur at the March meeting.  With that reduced agenda
   it was possible to organize the meeting within roughly 2 session
   (about 4 hours) a day and maximum two parallel tracks.  However, all
   working group meetings were instead move to interims distributed over
   the coming six weeks and therefore was often perceived as increase
   low of the a longer time.  Also at that point of time there was not
   necessarily an expectation that the situation would continues as long
   as it did.

   For the following meetings in 2020, the online schedule was retained
   in a more similar fashion as for in-person meeting (1-2 hour slots
   and 8-9 parallel tracks as described below), however, still with a
   reduced total length of first 5 hours a day and then 6 hours with
   longer breaks.  As with in per-person meetings, the total number of
   sessions depends on the number of requested sessions by working and
   research group chairs, which were encouraged to request rather
   shorter and less slots.  However, this in some cases also let to
   overcrowded agendas and session going over time (which however is
   often also observed at in-person meetings).  In general the total
   number and hours of interim meetings has probably also increase
   since, indicating maybe a change in the way people work and getting
   more used to online meetings in general.  More interim meetings are
   sometimes also perceived as increased load but may also help to make
   more continuous progress.  This discussion is on-going and not in
   scope for this document.

3.  Guidelines for Online Meeting Planning

   This section records what has be evolved as practise during the fully
   online meetings held in 2020.

3.1.  Time Zone Selection

   All fully online meetings in 2020 have followed the time zone of the
   planned in-person meeting location, but starting roughly around noon
   instead.  The in-person meeting location follows the 1-1-1 rule as
   documented in RFC8719 to rotate between Asia, Europe, and North
   America.  While the exact time slot used had let to various
   discussions, following this 1-1-1 rule to share the pain has/seems to
   have rough consensus.

   Some flexibility with the start time to be "around" noon has proven
   useful to mitigate the worse possible time slots, however, it's
   impossible to avoid certain hours entirely.  There have not been
   enough online only meetings yet to potentially converge to a fixed
   set of 3 time slots, one for each region (potentially different for
   summer and winter time though) but that might be an option to
   consider to avoid repeating discussions about the exact start time.

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3.2.  Number of Days and Total Hours per Day

   Online meetings have converged to run over 5 days with 6-hour meeting
   days, roughly.  Only, the plenary, which concludes with multiple open
   mic sessions, is not necessarily time-bounded.

   Based on the experience so far, 6 hours of online meetings, with two
   30 minutes breaks, appears to be potentially a natural limited of
   what is handleable for most participants.  Respectively, the meeting
   survey after IETF 109 has indicated a high satisfaction with the
   distribution of sessions over 5 days but only a medium satisfaction
   with the overall length of each day [https://www.ietf.org/blog/

   While there is a possible trade-off between shorter but more days, a
   compact and potentially intense meeting was slightly prefer from the
   beginning by the community.  And, different than for in-person
   meetings, it was never seen as a necessary option to also utilize
   time during the weekend.  So far, it was possible for all meetings to
   fit the requested number of sessions within 5 days, with the
   respective number of parallel tracks (see next section).

   While the time during an in-person meeting can be used very
   intensively, even a compact and full online schedule does often not
   prevent day-job duties to occur in parallel.  Therefore, allocating
   more days can also make it more difficult for people to join and as
   such needs to be balanced with the option to distribute load better
   over the entirely year by a more regular use of interim meetings.

3.3.  Session/Break Length

   Session length and the number of parallel tracks are handled similar
   to in-person meetings, only that there are less sessions per day to
   keep the overall meeting day to at roughly 6 hours.  The reduction to
   three instead of four sessions per day let to the pratice of offering
   chairs only two options for session length (instead of three), in
   order to make session scheduling more practical.

   At IETF-108, based on an indicated preference of the community, 50
   and 100 minute slot were used, with only 10 minutes breaks, in order
   to keep the overall day length at 5 hours.  This resulted in many
   sessions going over time and clearly indicated that only 10 minutes
   for breaks are not practical.

   The survey after IETF-109 showed a high satisfaction with 60/120
   minute session lengths and 30 minute breaks, and a significant
   improvement in satisfaction over IETF-108.

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   While the option to to shorten the breaks was discussed during the
   later meetings, a saving of in total 10-20 minutes per day might not
   balance the need to use the breaks for recreation or at least some

3.4.  Number of Parallel Tracks

   Fully online meetings are not limited in the number of parallel
   tracks by the physical restriction of a meeting venue aka the number
   of meeting rooms.  However, the more parallel tracks there are, the
   higher is the chances for conflicts.  Therefore it is desirable to
   balance the requested sessions mostly equally over the available
   slots and thereby minimise the number of parallel tracks where

   If the number of requested sessions exceeds the number of possible
   slots with the usual 8 parallel tracks, it is possible for an online
   only meeting to use more tracks.  After all, this decision is
   implicitly made by the working group chairs requesting a certain
   number of sessions and length.  While realistic planning is desired
   to avoid running over time, chairs are still encouraged to request
   plenary meeting time carefully and use interims where possible and
   sensible instead.

3.5.  Full vs. limited agenda

   The IETF-108 meeting survey asked about the structure of that meeting
   (full meeting) compared to that of IETF 107, which hosted only a
   limited set of session followed by interims in the weeks after.  The
   structure of IETF 108 was preferred by 82%
   [https://www.ietf.org/blog/ietf-108-meeting-survey/].  While the
   limited agenda of IETF-107 could have been a good one-time
   replacement, the value of cross participation and high active
   meetings weeks has been recognised as important for continuous
   progress (and not only for newly initiated work).

4.  Experiments

   Similar as for in-person meeting, it is desirable to experiment with
   the meeting structure.  Often only practical experience can answer
   open questions.  It is recommended to not experiment with a larger
   number of different aspects at the same time, in order to be able to
   assess the outcome correctly.  It is future recommend to announce any
   such experiment in advance, so people adjust to changes and
   potentially provide feedback.

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5.  Chances and Lessons Learnt

   Participation of the most recent online only meetings were rather
   high and had a quite stable per-country distribution, even though
   time zones were rotated.  This indicates that online meetings support
   a more easy and therefore potentially broader participation than in-
   person meeting where participation is often fluctuating based on the

   However, it has also been recognised that the online meeting does not
   provide an equivalent opportunity to socialize.  The observed slight
   decrease in submission of new (-00) drafts, while the overall number
   of draft submission and productivity seem to say stable, might also
   be an indication of the dismiss of these interactions.  The increase
   in interim meetings potentially compensates for these missing
   interactions for continuous work (or may even increases productivity
   there), but seems to be less adequate to spark new ideas.

   None of the data observed so far can, however, be interpreted as
   showing a significant trend.  However, these factors should be
   consider for the organization of future online only meetings in
   replacement or addition to in-person meetings.

6.  Acknowledgments

7.  Normative References

   [RFC8719]  Krishnan, S., "High-Level Guidance for the Meeting Policy
              of the IETF", BCP 226, RFC 8719, DOI 10.17487/RFC8719,
              February 2020, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc8719>.

Author's Address

   Mirja Kuehlewind

   Email: mirja.kuehlewind@ericsson.com

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