discussion style and respect

IETF Chair <chair@ietf.org> Thu, 04 June 2015 22:14 UTC

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Subject: discussion style and respect
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From: IETF Chair <chair@ietf.org>
Date: Fri, 05 Jun 2015 01:14:32 +0300
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I have participated in several threads recently where the discussion
has gotten heated, personal, or unnecessarily polarised.

Please remember to take a pause before using unnecessarily polarised
words or emotional content, condescending or combative discussion style,
being dismissive of other people’s points of view, or using ad hominem
arguments. The IETF code of conduct (RFC 7154) says: 

  The IETF strives … to create and maintain an environment in which every 
  person is treated with dignity, decency, and respect. People who participate
  in the IETF are expected to behave in a professional manner as we work
  together to develop interoperable technologies for the Internet.

This applies to all of us. And we all can fail occasionally, but we need to learn
from our mistakes. Maybe all of us can take a moment and review our
recent discussions and see what we could do to improve going forward.

There are many obvious reasons why we need to stay professional and
respectful in our discussions. We are an open organisation that should
be welcoming, open for new ideas and different viewpoints. We have
a lot of respected technologists and as such we need to set an example
not only for our technical excellence but our ability to discuss and
accommodate broad views. We also get many new proposals and
new people. Please keep an open mind in new discussions, and
do not get offended if others have differing needs or views. People
sometimes have different interests.

There is also the matter of efficiency: occasionally we see discussions
that deviate from the core topic, such as discussions that devolve into
a discussion of the discussion itself. This isn’t always helping us get to a
reasonable conclusion. And a good discussion environment attracts
more participants; negative environment pushes them away. Of course,
it is absolutely essential that we all are able to criticise proposals and
express concerns. Neutral tone works usually best: I prefer A over B
because … ” or "I believe there is a concern in C because …”

At any one time there are hundreds of questions in front of the IETF.
When we are polite, respectful, informative, and help each other
understand, we can get to conclusions faster. And more importantly,
to the right conclusions.


Jari Arkko, IETF Chair