Re: [Gendispatch] revised

Nico Williams <> Wed, 31 March 2021 19:22 UTC

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Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 14:22:16 -0500
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From: Nico Williams <>
To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Cc: Dan Harkins <>, Mallory Knodel <>, "" <>, "Salz, Rich" <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] revised
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On Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 02:53:01PM -0400, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 2:12 PM Nico Williams <> wrote:
> > On Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 10:49:28AM -0700, Dan Harkins wrote:
> > > Let me remind you again that disparate impact is not evidence of
> > > racism and it is a fallacy (specifically, the residual fallacy [1]) to
> > > claim otherwise. So, excluding disparate impact, where is this racism
> > > and bias you speak of?
> >
> > The IETF's volunteer nature, with no gatekeepers, means that the IETF
> > can neither be the cause of nor the solution to lack of diversity of any
> > kind.  Though perhaps in order for the IETF to join our brave new
> > age-of-the-hyper-ostrakon, we must have gatekeepers (who hopefully will
> > only ever discriminate on the basis of approved criteria).
> That is certainly not true. Particular since as with every other
> international standards body working in the communications space, we have
> to deal with a small number of very very well funded individuals who are
> not actually individuals at all, they work for enterprises and in some
> cases nation-state actors whose objectives are entirely malign.

They're still "volunteers" and _we_ don't yet gatekeep (at least we
don't keep anyone out proactively based on any criteria at all, but
reactively as a result of spam or harassment).  Maybe we should, but we
don't.  That part of my statement was not incorrect in the least.

> Case in point was when IETF tried to deal with spam and of course some folk
> paid by the spam kings showed up to act as wreckers.

We currently only have processes to exclude as a result of a
participant's actions (e.g., harassment).  I wouldn't call that
gatekeeping because we're not keeping people out proactively, only
reactively.  And I don't believe there's been a single allegation that
any exclusion has been motivated by racism, sexism, or any other -ism,
not even politics.

> Of course there are going to be nation state actors involved pursuing
> covert agendas. It is naive to think otherwise.

But this thread isn't about nation state actors pursuing covert (or
overt, for that matter) agendas.

> Without gatekeepers, the field is open to those of malign purpose to bully
> and disrupt.

Evidently we might need to discuss the meaning of "to gatekeep".  To me
it's mostly about keeping people out proactively, but I guess it means
more than that to others, so maybe I need to pick a better word.