Re: I-D Action: draft-rsalz-termlimits-00.txt

Brian E Carpenter <> Wed, 20 October 2021 20:34 UTC

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Subject: Re: I-D Action: draft-rsalz-termlimits-00.txt
To: John C Klensin <>, IETF discussion list <>
References: <> <> <56F811BE6546B57096E171B6@PSB>
From: Brian E Carpenter <>
Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2021 09:34:48 +1300
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Well, I am not convinced. *Guidance* to NomCom along these lines
would be a fine idea, but a firm rule, IMHO, would over-constrain
an already constrained solution.


On 21-Oct-21 09:29, John C Klensin wrote:
> --On Thursday, October 21, 2021 08:32 +1300 Brian E Carpenter
> <> wrote:
>> Well, this is a bad idea that was repeatedly rejected in the
>> past.
> Brian, I believe that hard limits were rejected in the past for
> two reasons:
> (i) There will certainly be specific cases for which they are
> the wrong answer.  We can imagine many such cases.
> (ii) There has been at least a suspicion in the community that
> the IESG is opposed to anything that would put additional
> constraints on incumbents (e.g., themselves).
>> Why? Because it's always hard to fill all the positions, and
>> this would make it harder.
> I suggest there is a different way to look at that.  If we have
> a position that cannot be filled by someone able, willing,
> competent, and with adequate time and resources, a Nomcom would
> be doing the community a big favor by not filling it and thereby
> forcing a review of whether we need that position, whether the
> role that position is supposed to satisfy is correctly defined
> for needs at the time or whether some reorganization would serve
> us better, whether our ambitions for what should be done are
> realistic, and so on.  Probably the same principle should apply
> when there is only one candidate whom the Nomcom (or other
> appointing body) would not consider acceptable if there were any
> other choices.
> As a specific example that has come up before, if there is an
> area with two ADs and one of those slots cannot be filled, it
> should trigger a review of whether that area can get by on one
> AD, whether we need the Area at all any more (so that the remain
> AD should be charged with winding it down), whether some of the
> WGs in the Area should be trimmed, and whether the IESG is in
> need of a reorganization.  
> Moving forward with a least-bad candidate because it was hard to
> recruit people may help patch a problem but I suggest it is bad
> for the IETF in the long term.
> And that suggests there is actually value in term limits:  if we
> know, a year in advance, that a position will be open, it allows
> far more time to think about candidates, twist arms, line up
> resources, etc.,  and even whether some of the above thinking
> about the organization or the Area or the IETF would be in
> order.  in addition, telling organizations who support
> Nomcom-selected people during their terms that it for a maximum
> of two such terms might make it easier to get agreement than if
> it is a potential lifetime commitment (assuming, of course, that
> organizations are not supporting people for those positions
> because of a belief that having people in them brings prestige,
> credibility, or power to the company).
>> If someone is incompetent, NomCom will not reappoint them even
>> once, let alone twice.
>> We all agree that ossification is unwelcome, but artificial
>> turnover is not the way to avoid that.
> I think we have seen people who have ossified in place but who
> are then selected for an additional term before retiring or
> being forced out.  I agree that rigid term limits are not the
> right solution, but hoping the Nomcom will figure it out may not
> be the optimal solution either.
> Finally, the "one term out" rule in Rich's proposal ensures
> rotation, not retirement, and there is a difference.  Even a
> person who has done a great job might benefit from some time in
> the community between terms... and the community would almost
> certainly benefit from the more recent and closer to bottom-up
> perspective on what it takes to get work done in the IETF.
>    best,
>     john