Re: When to adopt a draft as a WG doc (was RE: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists")

Barry Leiba <> Thu, 29 November 2012 19:06 UTC

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Subject: Re: When to adopt a draft as a WG doc (was RE: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists")
From: Barry Leiba <>
To: "George, Wes" <>
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> If we actively *don't*
> want an IETF-wide procedure here, we can even document that the process
> for WG adoption of drafts is WG-specific and could document those specifics
> in a WG policies wiki document maintained by the chairs.

I believe that one is the case, though others can weigh in with
opinions as well.  Yes, we could change our documentation to
explicitly say that this particular decision is a management choice.
But I'll caution you against trying to do that in general: we have a
million things that are unspecified and should be unspecified and left
to management choice.  Trying to find all of those and explicitly say
so will be a frustrating exercise, and one that won't have a lot of
value in the end.  In general, we specify what we want to specify, and
what's left is up to judgment and management.

> Further, no matter how good the individuals are at their "jobs" within the IETF,
> applying undocumented policy (especially doing it inconsistently) looks to the
> outside world as arbitrary and capricious

Here's where we have a gap, you and I: what you call undocumented
policy I call a management choice.  How to assign document editors is
a management choice.  How to record track issues is a management
choice.  How much to open up general discussion, vs requiring focus on
certain things now, and others later, is a management choice.  Whether
to process one or two documents at a time, or do five or six is a
management choice.  Even whether to have a formal "working group last
call" is a management choice -- that one *is* discussed in 2418,
because it's common enough and we thought it important enough.  But a
WGC who decides it's not necessary for a particular document isn't
violating any process or policy.

We hire the best and the brightest as our working group chairs in
order to rely on their judgment and management abilities, exactly
because a lot of flexibility is necessary, so a lot of judgment is
necessary as well.

Again, trying to nail everything down isn't desirable.  And even
trying to nail down the list of things that aren't nailed down isn't,
as I see it.