Re: Measuring IETF and IESG trends (Was: Re: Appeal against IESG blocking DISCUSS on draft-klensin-rfc2821bis)

Marshall Eubanks <> Wed, 25 June 2008 13:56 UTC

Return-Path: <>
Received: from [] (localhost []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 91F583A6859; Wed, 25 Jun 2008 06:56:06 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from localhost (localhost []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 96B953A696D for <>; Wed, 25 Jun 2008 06:56:05 -0700 (PDT)
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
X-Spam-Flag: NO
X-Spam-Score: -103.484
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-103.484 tagged_above=-999 required=5 tests=[AWL=0.115, BAYES_00=-2.599, RCVD_IN_DNSWL_LOW=-1, USER_IN_WHITELIST=-100]
Received: from ([]) by localhost ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id N+X87FL6ERjc for <>; Wed, 25 Jun 2008 06:56:04 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ( []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 74DED3A6859 for <>; Wed, 25 Jun 2008 06:56:03 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from [] (account marshall_eubanks HELO [IPv6:::1]) by (CommuniGate Pro SMTP 3.4.8) with ESMTP-TLS id 11895056; Wed, 25 Jun 2008 09:56:05 -0400
Message-Id: <>
From: Marshall Eubanks <>
To: Jari Arkko <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v924)
Subject: Re: Measuring IETF and IESG trends (Was: Re: Appeal against IESG blocking DISCUSS on draft-klensin-rfc2821bis)
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 09:56:04 -0400
References: <> <>
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.924)
Cc: Bernard Aboba <>,
X-Mailman-Version: 2.1.9
Precedence: list
List-Id: IETF Discussion <>
List-Unsubscribe: <>, <>
List-Archive: <>
List-Post: <>
List-Help: <>
List-Subscribe: <>, <>
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; Format="flowed"; DelSp="yes"

Dear Jari;

On Jun 25, 2008, at 7:37 AM, Jari Arkko wrote:

> Bernard, Russ,
> I changed the subject line, I think the thread has continued long  
> enough :-)  Indeed, I collect a set of measurements. These are based  
> on pulling information from the tracker and the documents. The  
> reason for setting this up was to try to better understand what is  
> happening in the IETF process at various levels: for each document,  
> my own AD work, how the IESG works, where is the time spent in the  
> IETF process as a whole.
> (start page and  
> disclaimers)
> (main IESG  
> measurements)
>  (exists for each approved draft)
> The data is current and is being updated every week or so. But  
> before everyone looks at the graphs and jumps to conclusions, I  
> wanted to insert a few disclaimers. First, this is based on tracker  
> data and it does not go into that far into the past -- and some of  
> the older data might even not be all that accurate. Second, I  
> recently added a lot of measurements and I don't yet have 100%  
> confidence that my tool gets everything correct. This is  
> particularly true of the items looking at various aspects of  
> Discusses. Third, some of the measurements look at tracker  
> substates, which are not used by all ADs and no one uses them  
> completely accurately. And last but not least, I don't want anyone  
> to blindly look at the numbers without considering what's behind  
> them. There are significant variations between documents. Tracker  
> status and real world situation may be different. Areas differ.  
> There is limited amount of information about documents prior to them  
> becoming WG documents. And its not necessarily the goal of the IETF  
> to produce a large number of documents as fast as it can; I have no  
> way to measure quality in these numbers. These are so hard issues  
> that its not even clear that the statistics have more value than  
> acting as entertaining trivia about the process.

> That being said, it is beneficial to understand what is happening  
> and what changes are occurring in the process. Or understand where  
> improvements might have a negligible vs. visible impact.
> One of the things that the IESG has been concerned about recently is  
> that the number of outstanding Discusses is growing. We talked about  
> this in our May retreat and identified some actions to help reduce  
> this problem. For instance, better tool support so that the ADs  
> would better see the different things that are waiting for their  
> action, getting the document shepherds better involved in the  
> resolution process, informing authors how they should respond to  
> Discusses, using RFC Editor notes to make small changes when the  
> authors are slow in producing a new version, better checks of  
> documents before they come to telechats (e.g., to ensure that formal  
> syntax in a document is free of errors), etc. These would be in  
> addition to the usual things we'd do, like debate whether the  
> Discuss was within the Discuss criteria, whether the issue is real,  
> try to ensure that the AD and the authors are being responsive over  
> e-mail, etc.
> Another interesting area to think about is the time that our  
> processes take. For instance, documents that go through me take on  
> the average five months from publication request to approval. But  
> there is a lot of variation. This time includes everything from AD  
> review, IETF Last Call to IESG review and waiting for document  
> revisions, etc. One interesting piece of information is that  
> documents that require no revision during this process are very  
> rare, but they go through the system about five times as fast. If we  
> look at the (unreliable) substates, they appear to indicate that the  
> IESG processing time is divided roughly 1:2:1 for waiting on AD,  
> authors, and mandatory process waits like last call periods.
> I am working to extend the analysis a little bit further by  
> including individual draft and WG document stages. You see some of  
> the results of this in the third URL above, but I'd like to  
> understand what fraction of the overall draft-smith-00 to RFC time  
> is taken by the different stages for all IETF work, and how the  
> stages have developed over time.
> Comments and suggestions on what would be useful to measure are  
> welcome.

I, at least, always like looking at such statistics, so I thank you.

In my opinion, the real value of this come from trends. The IESG  
clearly should not have
Soviet style work norms, for a bunch of reasons, and it may not be  
possible to say what an approval rate should be,
but if something changes greatly over time it is generally worthwhile  
to figure out why.

To that end, I frequently find it useful to put means and standard  
deviations as horizontal lines on the plot, at least once enough data  
is available (say, 5 data points). (You can do the mean as a solid  
line and the mean + and - one or two standard deviations as dashes or  
dots or a fainter line).

The assumption is that there are underlying random (gaussian or  
poisson) processes that cause the numbers to fluctuate about the mean  
and that there is no other way to determine these means and S.D.  
except from the data. Under these assumptions, there should be fairly  
frequent fluctuations > 1 standard deviation from the mean, and  
occasional fluctuations > 2 standard deviations from the mean, but a  
string of fluctuations 2 + standard deviations from the mean probably  
should be looked into. (Of course, the underlying assumptions here may  
be faulty, and
these bounds may need to be adjusted based on experience.)

BTW, this page seems to have blank plots, which may be due to not  
enough data :


> Jari
> _______________________________________________
> IETF mailing list

IETF mailing list