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Versions: 00 01 02                                                      
shmoo Working Group                                        M. Richardson
Internet-Draft                                  Sandelman Software Works
Intended status: Best Current Practice                  28 November 2020
Expires: 1 June 2021

        How often and how long should IETF virtual meetings be?


   This document recommends a model for IETF virtual meetings that
   emphasizes new work, community building and cross-area concerns.

   This document recommends virtual meetings be planned a reduced amount
   of overlap among sessions, with short sessions with generous gaps.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on 1 June 2021.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  IETF 107 experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.2.  IETF 108 experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.3.  IETF 109 experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  Suggestions for future meetings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.1.  Principles for for Recommendations  . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Recommendations on meeting structure  . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.1.  Encourage Virtual Interim meetings for ongoing
               work  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.2.  Allow IETF Virtual meeting week to focus on
               community-wide activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.3.  Number of Tracks for virtual meetings . . . . . . . .   8
   3.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   5.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  Changelog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   7.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9

1.  Introduction

   IETF107 (Vancouver) was the first pandemic IETF virtual meeting held
   in March 2020.  IETF108 (Madrid) was the second pandemic IETF virtual
   meeting held in July 2020.  IETF109 (Bangkok) was the third pandemic
   IETF virtual meeting held in November 2020.

   IETF110 (Prague), will be held as a virtual meeting in March 2021.
   It is unknown at the time of this writing whether IETF111 (San
   Francisco) will be possible.

1.1.  IETF 107 experience

   IETF107 consisted of a light week with no more than about 4-hours of
   sessions over Monday to Thursday.  There were multiple tracks
   simultaneously, but not more three sessions at any one time.
   Priority was given to newly formed WGs that had not yet met, to Birds
   of a Feather session, and to cross-community sessions including
   specifically "dispatch" sessions.

   These sessions were done with XXXX (webex? right?)

   The timezone was approximately "Vancouver"-ish.  Most sessions
   started in late morning, which turned into mid-evening in Europe
   (going into midnight), and middle of the night in Asia.

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   All other WGs were assigned a day in the weeks following IETF107 from
   March 30 to April 30.  The WGs were asked to pick a time (and time
   zone) convenient to them, and they scheduled webex meetings on
   "ietf.webex.com", although a few WG chairs decided to use "Zoom".
   Many meetings occured in the North-America/Europe optimal time slot
   of 1500UTC ("10am EDT").

   Despite the "pick a time", a small number of WGs managed to pick
   times when other WGs were meeting, and there were in fact collisions.

   IETF 107 would be best described as a marathon rather than a sprint.

1.2.  IETF 108 experience

   IETF108 consisted of a very heavy week.

   Eight simultaneous tracks were scheduled, although with slightly
   shorter meeting times of 50 minutes and 100 minutes.  The plenary
   occured at the normal Wednesday afternoon time, and other constants
   like "saag" being on Thurdsay afternoon were also maintained.

   The day started in late-morning "Madrid" (Central Enropean) time and
   ended before dinner time.  The longest break was a 30 minute break
   after the first session.  Other breaks were in the 10 minute range.

   This accomodated East-coast North-Americans, but Pacific coast
   participants had to get up for 4am.  The schedule accomodated those
   in Asia slightly better, but it was still middle of the night in New-
   Zealand for all but the first sessions.

   All WG sessions used meetecho with additional features having been
   added to support things like humming, and some slightly better queue

   Many participants experienced a typical number of conflicts.  See,
   for instance https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/suit/

   Some WGs declined to schedule meetings at IETF108.  This was due to a
   combination of scheduling, timezones and the fee to attend.  WGs that
   did this usually had a healthy and regular set of virtual interim
   meetings that were ongoing.

   To some, IETF 108 felt like a sprint: others felt that the pace,
   while intense was okay if one paced oneself well.

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1.3.  IETF 109 experience

   IETF109 consisted of a heavy week similiar to IETF108.

   Eight simultaneous tracks were scheduled.  Each day had a two hour
   slot, a thirty minute break, a one hour slot, another 30 minute
   break, and then a two hour slot.

   Survey feedback said that participants perferred that the meeting
   time be as compressed as possible, so the total meeting duration was
   6 hours long.

   The day started in afternoon "Bangkok" (UTC+7hours: 1pm) time and
   ended before dinner time.

   Participants on the West coast of North America (California,
   Vancouver, Seattle, etc.) were 16 hours behind, so the meeting time
   of 0600 UTC worked out to start at 2100 (PST) the night before, and
   went until 0300 (PST).  It was a late night for those participants.

   Participants on the East coast of North America (Toronto, Boston,
   NYC, Atlanta, etc.) were 13 hours behind, so the meeting time of 0600
   UTC worked out to start at 0000 (EST) the night before, and went
   until 0600 (EST).  Participants either slept during the day (7am to
   3pm) and then got up and spent the evening with their family, or they
   slept during the afternoon/evening (3pm to 10pm), and got up and
   joined "first thing".  Those who slept during the day usually did so
   because that's when their house was quiet (partner at work, children
   at school): they did the meeting at the end of their day.  Those who
   slept in the evening, seemed to cite being able to collaborate with
   European colleagues after the meeting, during the European "day"

   Participants in Europe found the meeting start time of 0600UTC meant
   that they had get up a bit early.  (This experience was similiar to
   the IETF108 experience for East Coast north Americans) They meeting
   then occupied most of their day.

   At the time of this writing, no feedback from Pacific/Asian
   participants was received.  Input is sought.

   Side meetings were a challenge: a few had side meetings during the 30
   minute breaks, but many people socialized on gather.town.  This was
   also used for one on one follow-up discussions.  Getting more food,
   drink, and attending to washroom needs were also important to most

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   A few side meetings were called for after the meeting time, that is
   after 1200UTC.  This was convenient for Europeans and Asian
   participants, and East Coast participants who slept in the evening,
   but it did not work for West Coast participants at all.

   IETF109 seemed much better attended than IETF108.

2.  Suggestions for future meetings

2.1.  Principles for for Recommendations

   There is great utility in having all of the IETF members present and
   available together.  Doing this in-person has many great benefits
   (and many costs internal and external), not enumerated here.

   An unconstrained meeting with few conflicts and a few empty slots in
   each individual schedule maximizes the benefit of the togetherness.
   Some call it Working-Group "tourism", others call it "impromptu
   cross-area review", but there are significant benefits to having
   "bored" participants with time on their hands wander into a WG to
   which they have little knowledge.

   To be fair, there is some significant negative experience with mic
   comments like, "I haven't read the document, but..."

   Yes, often these comments _do_ lead to significant amounts of
   friction.  Time wasted at the mic explaining that that were covered
   in the document.

   Sometimes, though, they lead to an understanding that two WGs are
   facing the same issues, and that they should work together.  And
   getting this understanding is really quite valuable.

   This is _PARTICULARLY_ the case for new work (BOFs), and for the
   first few meetings of a newly formed WG.  One of the important thing
   for many individuals to internalize what the boundaries of the new
   work is, and what the overlap with the work they are doing is.  This
   often comes about from the discussions that go around slide ware, to
   seeing who else cares about this work, and why.

   Heavily conflicted (physical) meeting schedules have been a growing
   issue, with the result that many people do not have the time (due to
   conflicts), or the energy (due to exhaustion) to pay attention to the
   new work.

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2.2.  Recommendations on meeting structure

2.2.1.  Encourage Virtual Interim meetings for ongoing work

   This document therefore recommends that the IETF encourage a healthy
   growth of virtual interim meetings which are:

   1.  heavily focused.

   2.  frequent participant-time-zone optimized

   3.  typically occur at twice-monthly to monthly intervals appropriate
       for getting work done.

   There is a significant self-selection problem with virtual interims
   and participants.

   In groups where the use of virtual interim meetings are used a lot,
   the choice of time zone in which to hold the virtual interim meeting
   can determine who attends.  When the virtual interim time zone
   selects against participants from a particular part of the world then
   they tend to participant less.  If the working group then does a poll
   of participants as to what time zone to use, then having lost
   participants from the less popular time zone, the result is likely to
   reinforce this selection.

   This suggests that virtual interim meeting time zones should not
   _always_ be chosen according to popularity (such as "doodle" poll).
   But, at the same time, a working group which is highly focused and
   doing good work should be forced to work at inconvenient times.
   There is a definite tussle here!

   The IESG is encouraged to find ways to insert some variation in
   meeting time.  This needs to be done with care, and with some amount
   of sharing of the pain among different working groups as well.  1500UTC

   The 1500 Central European time (in whichever Daylight Savings is
   active), corresponds to 7AM Pacific, 10AM Eastern, 2PM (UK), 3PM
   (Paris), 4PM (Helsinki), and 10PM Beijing.  This time period is used
   for IESG Thursday meetings, and is popular because it accomodating to
   many participants.  It is hostile to Eastern Australia, New Zealand
   and Hawaii participants.  Fundamentally, the lack of people who live
   in the Pacific ocean biases the time zones to those which are daytime
   in Europe, which is essentially in the middle.

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   It is therefore difficult to "share the pain" -- those at the
   extremes (Pacific North America, and Asia/Pacific) will find the
   times picked to almost always be annoying.  To be clear: while a
   meeting could be planned for early evening (16:00) in San Jose, which
   is early morning in Tokyo (9AM), it would be outside of office hours,
   or even night for most everyone else in the world.

2.2.2.  Allow IETF Virtual meeting week to focus on community-wide

   While the IETF mission statement is very outcome focused, that
   doesn't mean that every activity needs to be only outcome focused.  I
   think that the IETF "plenary" meeting times should be arranged to not
   just permit, but encourage cross-working-group participation.

   This document suggests that the IETF virtual meeting week be focused

   1.  governance and meta-activites like IESG, IAB, NOMCOM

   2.  *DISPATCH activities

   3.  BOFs for new work

   4.  growing the virtual Hackathon

   5.  newly formed WG meetings,

   6.  maybe WGs who have gone through some major milestone, and are for
       instance, rechartering

   Rather than attempt to compress the schedule down so that the time
   between the beginning of the day and the end of the day is as short
   as possible, we should instead arrange the schedule with generous
   break intervals to accomodate adhoc 1:1 or rather-small-group

   That is, the "hallway session" needs some time and space to be

   In particular, having some gaps where a person can reasonably expect
   to track down someone else to chat about a specific thing, or just to
   catch up.

   We used to stimulate the "hallway" discussion using cookies and

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   Often this is the best way to talk though DISCUSSes among ADs and
   document authors.

   Those that used the gather.town system, found it was exceptionally
   useful for this.

2.2.3.  Number of Tracks for virtual meetings

   This document recommends that we have fewer tracks.  Somewhere
   between two and four.

   That is, like IETF108 and more like IETF107.  A few more tracks, and
   slightly longer days.

   This document does not recommend that the schedule be adjusted to
   accomodate all the time zones.  Because of where the Pacific Ocean
   is, that pretty much always puts noon somewhere near Greenwich.

   The 1-1-1-* process should mean that the locale chosen for the
   cancelled physical meeting defines the time zone.  Participants
   should be expected to "travel" to that time zone: many physical trips
   take 24 to 36 hours of airplane time, and asking participants to take
   a similiar amount of time to adjust their body clocks is not

   Once a year, the participants will find they have to do almost no
   adjustment, when the meeting is "near" them.

   Meetings should be restricted to between a 4 and 7 day period though,
   which gives them some time to adjust before "returning" to work the
   next week.

   Historical meetings have accomodated in excess of 200 hours of
   session time.  (Eight hours/day X 4.5 days X eight tracks = 288
   hours, minus some for the plenary).

   The virtual meeting should restrict itself to approximately 100 hours
   of session time. 6 sessions of 50 minutes, with ~30 minute breaks
   between, over 4 tracks, and over 4 days gives 90 hours of session
   time.  This calculation does not count time for a plenary where there
   is only one track.  This formula is intended to be a guideline only.

   Note that for many, conflicts mean that they have to view the session
   after the fact via Youtube.  While the "play back at 2x speed" can be
   effective for some listeners, this can result in significant number
   of extra hours of time for the meeting.

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   Rather than compete for available plenary-week WGs slots, WGs should
   compete to demonstrate that they don't need a slot.

   Having a plenary-week slot should mean that additional "supervision"
   is required :-) Either because the WG is very new, or because the WG
   is old and has lost it's way.

3.  Security Considerations

   The excessive use of caffeine and sugar to adjust jet lag may have
   health effects on the participants.  In addition, there is some
   possibility that decisions made under such influence might negatively
   affect the security of the Internet.  Multiple reviews after periods
   of "sober second thought" should catch any such poor decisions.

4.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no requests to IANA.

5.  Acknowledgements


6.  Changelog

7.  Normative References

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

Author's Address

   Michael Richardson
   Sandelman Software Works

   Email: mcr+ietf@sandelman.ca

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