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Versions: 00 01                                                         
Network Working Group                                      M. Kuehlewind
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Informational                                   M. Duke
Expires: 19 November 2021                              F5 Networks, Inc.
                                                             18 May 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 guidelines 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
   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 19 November 2021.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 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 (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  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Guidelines for Online Meeting Planning  . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.1.  Time Zone Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       3.1.1.  Rules for selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.2.  Number of Days and Total Hours per Day  . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.3.  Session/Break Length  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.4.  Number of Parallel Tracks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     3.5.  Full vs. limited agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   5.  Chances and Lessons Learnt  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   6.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   7.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7

1.  Introduction

   In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the IETF to move all its
   plenary meetings 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 meetings.  But as the IETF has done for in-person meetings,
   changes to the organization of the meetings and the meeting agenda
   should be experimented with in the process of establishing future
   meeting guidelines.

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2.  Some History

   When the WHO declared a world-wide pandemic in March 2020, the IETF
   had to quickly cancel its plenary meeting 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 administrative plenary in order to organize the official
   hand-over procedures that occur at the March meeting.

   With that reduced agenda, it was possible to organize the meeting
   within roughly 2 sessions (about 4 hours) a day and a maximum of two
   parallel tracks.  This was possible as all working group meetings
   were instead moved to interims which were then distributed over the
   coming six weeks.  However, this was often perceived as increased
   load over a longer time.  But at that point of time there was not
   necessarily an expectation that the situation would continue as long
   as it did.

   For the following meetings in 2020, the online schedule was retained
   in a fashion similar to an in-person meeting (1-2 hour slots and 8-9
   parallel tracks as described below), however, still with a reduced
   total length of initially 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 led to overcrowded
   agendas and sessions going over time (which is often also observed at
   in-person meetings).  In general, the total number and hours of
   interim meetings has probably also increased in 2020, potentially
   indicating a change in the way people work as well as increased
   comfort participating in 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.

   All fully online meetings in 2020 have followed the time zone of the
   planned in-person meeting location, but starting roughly around noon
   instead.  Some flexibility with the start time to be "around" noon
   has been used to mitigate the worse possible time slots, even though,
   given the distribution of participants it is not possible to avoid
   certain hours entirely.  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.

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3.  Guidelines for Online Meeting Planning

3.1.  Time Zone Selection

   All fully online IETF plenary meetings begin at 0500 ("Asia"), 1200
   ("Europe"), or 2100 ("North America") UTC.  The names are not meant
   to imply that all participants in a given region will find the times
   convenient given their personal schedules, but are useful for the
   selection rules below.  These location names are consistent with the
   venue selection criteria in [RFC8719].

   The selected slots have been proposed to minimize inconvenience while
   not excessively penalizing any time zone.  Effectively, there is an
   early morning and a late afternoon meeting for two of the three
   regions in each slot.  E.g. the "Asia" 0500 UTC slot would be 0600
   CET (early morning) and 1300 China Standard Time (afternoon).  Since
   fully online meeting days are expected to be shorter then in-person
   meetings, this slot is roughly within the "usual" working hours of
   both regions.

   The intent of rotating between these three slots is to scatter
   meetings throughout the course of the global day, to maximize the
   ease of participants to occasionally attend regardless of their
   location and what time of day is optimal for their schedule.

3.1.1.  Rules for selection

   The IETF will select a start time from these three choices according
   the following rules, applied in order.

   1.  Eliminate all regions that had an in-person meeting in that
       calendar year.  If one region remains, select the time slot
       mapped to that region.

   2.  Eliminate all regions that have a planned in-person meeting that
       calendar year.  If one region remains, select the time slot
       mapped to that region.

   3.  Select the region that has least recently had an fully online
       IETF plenary in its slot.  For the pandemic cancellations of
       2020- 2021, the original host cities are used to determine the
       host region.  Therefore, at the time of writing the most recent
       selections are Asia in November 2020, Europe in March 2021, and
       North America in July 2021.

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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 administrative 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 practice 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 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 chances are 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 further recommended 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 meetings 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 stay 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>.

Authors' Addresses

   Mirja Kuehlewind

   Email: mirja.kuehlewind@ericsson.com

   Martin Duke
   F5 Networks, Inc.

   Email: martin.h.duke@gmail.com

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