Re: [105attendees] Fwd: And a third [was: A couple of opinion pieces]

John C Klensin <> Mon, 22 July 2019 14:18 UTC

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Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:18:52 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Ted Hardie <>, Brian E Carpenter <>
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Subject: Re: [105attendees] Fwd: And a third [was: A couple of opinion pieces]
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--On Monday, July 22, 2019 08:48 -0400 Ted Hardie
<> wrote:

> Just to add to Brian's note, this is more than likely, as the
> IAB is asking the community specific questions around how to
> move forward.  The questions are in the IAB report to the
> community (
> ietf-105/); as that notes, Olaf Kolkman will also present a
> review of the current RFC Editor model to help frame some of
> the timing questions.


I didn't see any substantive questions other than whether to
appoint (acting?) RSE and then start thinking through the role
or to try to just move forward with a selection process there.
Were those the questions you had in mind.

I am glad you said "asking the community" rather than "doing a
survey", but some of the same issues apply.   As others have
pointed out several times, the RFC Series (and hence the ISE)
serve much of the broader Internet Community, not just the IETF.
FWIW, one theory about the role of the IAB is that it is
supposed to serve  the broader Internet community too although I
think we sometimes loose sight of that (and the IEtF-centered
selection process doesn't help).  At least without a great deal
of caution, a survey to collect opinions is only as good as the
population being asked and how well those who respond represent
that population.  "Asking the community" isn't much better:
unless the IAB is just interested in confirming what it already
believes -- and I assume that is not the case-- the usefulness
of "asking the community" is only as useful as the parts of the
community you choose to ask and who answers and how.  In
particular, if "ask the community" is really going to be "ask
around the IETF", then those other parts of the Internet
Community who benefit from the RFC Series are effectively

I was very strongly reminded last Tuesday just how small of a
fraction of the Internet community, even the portion of the
community that is interested in the Internet's protocols or how
they are applied in practice, IETF participants represent.  If
the IETF (not just the RFE Series) are going to remain relevant,
I think we need to pay significant attention to that.

The other problem, as Brian, I, and others, have pointed out is
that the RSE position is a very specialized job, one into which
it would be no more reasonable to drop someone whose skill set
is in network engineering than it would be to expect the
managing editor of, say, a biochemistry journal to be able to
step into the IAB or IETF Chair roles or even to start designing
network protocols (unless he or she had considerable network
engineering background and experience in addition to their
biochemistry one).  I assume and hope that Olaf will explain
that in more detail on Wednesday.

I'd lay good odds that, before the recent discussions broke out,
only a small fraction of IETF participants had given any real
thought to the role of the RSE and that many were only vaguely
aware that it existed.  If that awareness level has risen,
perhaps that is a good consequence of this otherwise bad
situation.  However, it suggests that, at least in addition to
asking the community, you should be seeking out people with real
expertise and/or history and asking them rather than either
assuming that advice can come from general asking of the
community or that sufficient expertise in those matters exists
within the IAB or the present RSOC.