Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom ELEGIBILITY

Joel Halpern <> Thu, 12 February 2015 20:57 UTC

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Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:56:59 -0500
From: Joel Halpern <>
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To: Michael Richardson <>, ietf <>
Subject: Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom ELEGIBILITY
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Taking this out of order, I think I had one person fail qualification, 
and one person withdraw because they should not have been allowed, 
although the rules at the time would have allowed him.  So your having 
to reject 1/3 of your volunteers is interesting.  I wonder if this is a 
consequence of our pushing so hard for folks to volunteer?

With regard to nomcom qualification and diversity, I wonder if this is 
in part a consequence of our conflating two things.  On one side we have 
actual eligibility to serve on the nominating committee.

On the other hand we have a (small, but significant) number of processes 
which treat nomcom eligibility as essentially membership for having 
standing of various kinds.  This update is probably not the place to 
disentangle the two.  But I think trying to relax nomcom criteria in 
order to solve that problem is putting things the wrong way around.  We 
may well have taken too much of a shortcut in other cases.

I really don't think that relaxing nomcom membership rules is an 
effective way to address our (very real) leadership diversity issue. 
That being said diversity is clearly of value for the nomcom itself, in 
addition to the value for our leadership bodies.  I have no idea whether 
the proposed rules would actually qualify a more diverse set of people. 
  Larger, yes.  More diverse?  Maybe.  But given that all of these rules 
are very rough approximations for what we need, I am concerned that 
relaxing them without sufficient relationship to our needs has a too 
high a probability of making things worse in important ways.

All of which is why I want to see a specific proposal.  And why I have 
said that in the abstract I would like to see improvement.


On 2/12/15 3:16 PM, Michael Richardson wrote:
> Joel Halpern <> wrote:
>      > I am starting to sympathize with Mike.  What is our goal here.
> I wrote a long email last night, but I did not press send, because I wanted
> to try to be clear, and I know that I tend to be long winded and
> rambly. {"Oops, I did it again"}
> The goal is, I think, to have an I* which is make up competent people, who
> spend a reasonable amount of time, but not 100%, making the Internet a better
> place for everyone on the planet.  That means not just having a diverse group
> of people in charge, but making sure that it's clear to everyone on the
> planet that we welcome them: that we desire their participation.
> A major feedback from the confirming bodies into the nomcom is about
> diversity of all sorts: gender, age, culture, geography.   The ISOC board
> really cares about this (and that discussion is one reason the IAB
> announcement took longer, btw).  How can we have more diversity without
> sacrificing any of the other things that are also important: like being able
> to work well together.
> People have been upset during the past two nomcoms (both of which I was on),
> about the resulting diversity coming out of the selection process.  The
> reality is that the nomcom can't produce diversity; it only filter the input
> for the best people.  That means we if we want diversity, we have to feed the
> pipeline at the bottom.  That presents a bit of an innovator's dilemma
> because the current group of people have been doing things this way for a
> long time, and it has supposedly been "working"...
> Yet, notice how hard it is to get younger people in?
> How has the average age of IETF participants grown?
> The nomcom eligibility is about as close as we have to a membership process.
> The nomcom eligibility really says to most people: this the minimal amount of
> resources we expect a person to have (and expend) in order to participate.
> Right now that criteria significantly excludes people for whom:
>     - travel is expensive for them and/or their company
>     - obtaining a US visa is hard. *this is really a huge diversity killer*
>     - being away from home and/or office for ~10 days is a challenge
>       (remember that operators have other events, and if we want people
>       who write the code to be enfranchised, we have to remember that they
>       have other *code* related events)
>     - travel is just physically difficult for all sorts of reasons
>       (we have a regular and recurring thread on this)
> Furthermore, the current criteria, essentially leads to a kind of oligarchy.
> People who are present are the people who decide who shall make the
> decisions, and can essentially only select among those who are present.
> The remote participation process is poor in part because nobody of
> significance uses it regularly (and it doesn't enfranchise you).  Since the
> people who make the decisions are never remote, and the people who make the
> decisions about who makes the decisions are also not remote participants.
> We claim that we are an open, no-membership required, inclusive organization.
> But, the "cabal" that runs the IETF is the group of ~600 people who attend
> essentially every meeting, and I think that about 100 of those people are
> possibly "Elmers".  Of the other 600, I suspect 300 attend regularly, but
> below the 3/5 level, are sometimes above/sometimes below thus too busy
> to volunteer, and 300 were proximal to the meeting, so they came (even if it
> wasn't their first meeting).
> But, I note that the nomcom doesn't get 600 volunteers, and of the 233 names
> that I did get, about 80 were rejected: half were very new and surprised at
> the criteria, and the other half were surprised to realize that they were not
> eligible.  Perhaps Joel, you still have your list from when you were chair;
> it would be interesting to compile those statistics into a graph.
> I also want to repeat what Ted said this morning about "carbonfest".
> --
> Michael Richardson <>ca>, Sandelman Software Works
>   -= IPv6 IoT consulting =-