'Paywall, ' IETF self-sufficiency, increasing participation (was Re: Remote participation fees)

Eric Burger <eburger-l@standardstrack.com> Wed, 25 February 2015 14:11 UTC

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Subject: 'Paywall, ' IETF self-sufficiency, increasing participation (was Re: Remote participation fees)
From: Eric Burger <eburger-l@standardstrack.com>
In-Reply-To: <287EAD95-42D4-449C-8A7C-E8B3A14C8C21@nominum.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:10:56 -0500
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Mea culpa!

My fault for not being articulate. I was responding to the discussion thread, and happened to chose this one to staple the reply to. I in no way meant to infer that Ted (or Dave or anyone else) was advocating that the IETF should be excluding people. In this case, the impression (which Ted pointed out to me) was that I was saying that he wanted to exclude people based on ability to pay. Ted and I discussed this off-list, and we are in violent agreement. I did not think he was advocating for that, and I do not want anyone to advocate for that.

Moving forward, what I was hoping to avoid was for people to think that because the IETF conference fees defer the costs of operating the IETF (the meeting itself, the secretariat, and a portion of the RFC Editor), that we have to try to squeeze every penny from all sources. That is not necessarily a bad mindset to have: we should be striving to be independent on the largesse of the Internet Society and their contributors if we can manage it. That is not an infinite pot of cash, and no one wants to be beholden to a single funding source. However, what I wanted to get out to the community is the message that the Internet Society believes deeply in expanding access to the IETF and the IETF process. If charging for remote access inhibits participation (the unfortunate ‘paywall’ comment), then I would have no problem at all suggesting the IETF (IAOC in specific) ask the Internet Society to fund remote participation. I think the Board (speaking as an individual, NOT in my role as an Internet Society Trustee) would treat such a request sympathetically.

I can see this could be a dynamic situation. I can envision a time when we as the IETF are truly successful and develop fantastic real-time communication protocols that are easy to deploy, cost almost nothing, and are secure. At that point, one would *hope* in-person IETF meetings become a relic of history. Maybe we would meet once per year or every other year to reminisce about how the only way to get work done was to spend thousands of dollars of cash per year and an uncountable amount of cost for travel time to physically meet in the same location. How 20th Century! At that point, I would expect surpluses from meeting fees would be nonexistent, and we would need to figure alternate means of funding. However, that day seems to be far enough away that charging for remote participation should be a remote possibility for the foreseeable future.

> On Feb 24, 2015, at 9:24 PM, Ted Lemon <Ted.Lemon@nominum.com> wrote:
> On Feb 24, 2015, at 8:32 PM, Eric Burger <eburger@standardstrack.com> wrote:
>> The last thing we need as we are just beginning to have success reaching out beyond North American, European, Japanese, S. Korean, and Australian mid-size to large corporations is to toss up a paywall, some as much as a month’s salary or more, for the ‘privilege’ of contributing to the IETF.
> You know, it's really frustrating when you participate in a discussion, try to contribute helpfully, and then essentially get accused of being a blithering idiot by someone who didn't bother to consider the possibility that you might not be.   I'm sure you've had that experience too.   Heck, I've been the one who assumed the other person was an idiot too, so I can relate.
> Anyway, if you think I was proposing a paywall, please go back and re-read what I actually wrote, and the rest of the discussion that followed, with the presumption in mind that I did _not_ mean to propose any such thing (because I didn't!), and see if the discussion still works, or if you find something I or someone else said that contradicts that assumption.
> Thanks.