IETF Problem Statement
RFC 3774

 
Document Type RFC - Informational (May 2004; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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IESG IESG state RFC 3774 (Informational)
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Network Working Group                                     E. Davies, Ed.
Request for Comments: 3774                               Nortel Networks
Category: Informational                                         May 2004

                         IETF Problem Statement

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This memo summarizes perceived problems in the structure, function,
   and processes of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).  We are
   attempting to identify these problems, so that they can be addressed
   and corrected by the IETF community.

   The problems have been digested and categorized from an extensive
   discussion which took place on the 'problem-statement' mailing list
   from November 2002 to September 2003.  The problem list has been
   further analyzed in an attempt to determine the root causes at the
   heart of the perceived problems: The result will be used to guide the
   next stage of the process in the Problem Statement working group
   which is to recommend the structures and processes that will carry
   out the corrections.

Davies                       Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3774                 IETF Problem Statement                 May 2004

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction: Issues/Problems in the IETF Process  . . . . . .  2
       1.1.  Consequences of Past Growth  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
       1.2.  The Aim is Improvement, not Finger-pointing  . . . . . .  4
       1.3.  Perceived Problems - Consensus on Solutions  . . . . . .  4
   2.  Root Cause Problems  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.1.  Participants in the IETF do not have a Common
             Understanding of its Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.2.  The IETF does not Consistently use Effective
             Engineering Practices  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
       2.3.  The IETF has Difficulty Handling Large and/or Complex
             Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
       2.4.  Three Stage Standards Hierarchy not properly Utilized  . 11
       2.5.  The IETF's Workload Exceeds the Number of Fully
             Engaged Participants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
             2.5.1.  Lack of Formal Recognition . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       2.6.  The IETF Management Structure is not Matched to the
             Current Size and Complexity of the IETF  . . . . . . . . 13
             2.6.1.  Span of Authority  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
             2.6.2.  Workload of the IESG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
             2.6.3.  Procedural Blockages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
             2.6.4.  Consequences of Low Throughput in IESG . . . . . 15
             2.6.5.  Avoidance of Procedural Ossification . . . . . . 15
             2.6.6.  Concentration of Influence in Too Few Hands  . . 16
             2.6.7.  Excessive Reliance on Personal Relationships . . 17
             2.6.8.  Difficulty making Technical and Process Appeals. 18
       2.7.  Working Group Dynamics can make Issue Closure Difficult. 18
       2.8.  IETF Participants and Leaders are Inadequately Prepared
             for their Roles  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
   3.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   4.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   5.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
       5.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
       5.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   6.  Editor's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   7.  Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

1.  Introduction: Issues/Problems in the IETF Process

   Discussion started in the second half of 2002 has shown that a
   significant number of problems are believed to exist in the way the
   Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) operates.  Before attempting to
   change the IETF procedures and rules to deal with these problems, the
   IETF should have a clear, agreed-upon description of what problems we
   are trying to solve.

Davies                       Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 3774                 IETF Problem Statement                 May 2004

   The Problem Statement working group was chartered to create this
   document, which contains a description of the problems, and to use
   this analysis to suggest processes to address the identified
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