Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Mary Barnes <> Tue, 23 February 2021 22:26 UTC

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From: Mary Barnes <>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2021 16:26:16 -0600
Message-ID: <>
To: Brian E Carpenter <>
Cc: Hannes Tschofenig <>, Fernando Gont <>, "" <>, GENDISPATCH List <>, Keith Moore <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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Ditto to what Brian said.

I no longer write code although I have written LOTS of code for lots of
systems for nearly 20 years that have run in the real world for decades
(there's still Nortel DMS cranking away out there).   And, while I write
specs, I do work very closely with those implementing the specs and I don't
write specs for things that aren't being considered as potential
products/real systems.    I ask lots of questions when I'm working with
those coding, so I'm confident folks do understand what it is they're
implementing.   I worked with  contractors implementing ACME for one
company a few years back and I knew they didn't understand because I could
see the questions they were asking in the open forums and I knew they were
misinterpreting those responses.  I found the place in the Let's Encrypt
code where they needed to hook in the new code and I was almost at the
point of writing the code myself over a weekend with my son, but it was
their job.

There's far more value in my being able to educate the folks coding,
provide architectural feedback, talk to vendors to ensure that what they
are providing meets the requirements (security in particular) as well as
testing the system after it's been coded and providing feedback.   And, in
my experience, the coding is the easy part. When I was a developer, that
was the fun part - the reward after you got all the required documentation
written.   And, I always develop specs from the perspective that a
developer needs to use that as the basis for writing code, so I know how I
would want things written to facilitate that process.

So, your point about people writing specs not being the ones writing code
is a little judgemental.  I would say "elitist" and that's how it comes
off, but I don't consider those that write code necessarily to be the
elite.  But, it is this notion that there are certain types of people at
IETF that are amongst the elite that is one of the issues around


On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 3:51 PM Brian E Carpenter <> wrote:

> Hannes,
> On 23-Feb-21 22:51, Hannes Tschofenig wrote:
> > Hi Fernando,
> >
> > I just took a quick look at the document and I missed one point that
> increasingly worries me working in the IETF, namely the increasing number
> of participants who are not interested to write any code*.
> Can you justify "increasing number"? I don't mean compared to 1986, but
> compared (for example) to 2011? As long as I can remember, people have been
> concerned about participants who are "goers" rather than "doers" at
> meetings, and you seem to be adding a further concern, "doers" whose action
> is to write text rather than write code.
> Also, you don't mention operators, whose role is not to write code at all
> but whose contribution to the IETF is essential. So that's another category
> of "doers".
> I'd like to see some actual facts about these various categories of
> "doers". What % were they 10 or 20 years ago, and what % are they now? Has
> the hackathon changed the numbers? Etc.
> > I would include this aspect under diversity, particularly when talking
> about the new leadership election cycles.
> Yes, it should be on NomCom's radar. The need for enough ops people has
> long been understood, but recent development experience is also relevant.
> > Participating in some working groups I more and more get the impression
> to sit in a document writing class rather than in an Internet engineering
> organization.
> Since our principal output is text, that isn't so surprising, but I think
> there's a case for sending any spec that does not adhere to RFC7942/BCP205
> back to the WG.
> > Ciao
> > Hannes
> >
> > *: I am also including authors of protocol specifications that do not
> implement their own specifications.
> That's a bit cruel. In larger organisations, it might be totally
> infeasible. But again, RFC7942 is our friend.
> Regards
>     Brian
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: ietf <> On Behalf Of Fernando Gont
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 1:07 AM
> > To: '' <>rg>; GENDISPATCH List <
>>gt;; Keith Moore <>
> > Subject: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
> >
> > Folks,
> >
> > We have submitted a new I-D, entitled "Diversity and Inclusiveness in
> the IETF".
> >
> > The I-D is available at:
> >
> >
> > We expect that our document be discussed in the gendispatch wg (
> But given the
> breadth of the topic and possible views, we'll be glad to discuss it where
> necessary/applicable/desired.
> >
> > As explicitly noted in our I-D, we're probably only scratching the
> surface here -- but we believe that our document is probably a good start
> to discuss many aspects of diversity that deserve discussion.
> >
> > Thanks!
> >
> > Regards,
> > --
> > Fernando Gont
> > SI6 Networks
> > e-mail:
> > PGP Fingerprint: 6666 31C6 D484 63B2 8FB1 E3C4 AE25 0D55 1D4E 7492
> >
> >
> >
> >
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