Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections

John C Klensin <> Sat, 23 January 2021 07:21 UTC

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Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2021 02:21:13 -0500
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Brian Carpenter <>, Loa Andersson <>
cc: Bron Gondwana <>,
Subject: Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections
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--On Saturday, January 23, 2021 19:18 +1300 Brian Carpenter
<> wrote:

> Agreed. The problem here is not whether incumbents are
> re-appointed, but why the pool of candidates lacks diversity.
> This is not exactly a new problem.

Well, I think we have three separate problems, none of which
require "I think Alice would be better than Betty" discussions...

(1) How we handle incumbents who are willing to enlist for
additional terms without discouraging people from volunteering
to run against them.  See my previous note for a pointer to at
least one way to mitigate the problem.  There are probably
others, but the IESG was not interested in a discussion in 2009,
so the topic dropped.  Perhaps conditions for the discussion a
better today, perhaps not.

(2) How we increase diversity in the IETF and, in particular,
among those who have whatever support is needed to stand for
leadership positions and become part of the candidate pool (and,
for that matter, part of the Nomcom volunteer pool and the WG
Chair volunteer pool).

(3) What advice we would like to give future Nomcom about the
relative importance of diversity in particular bodies vis-a-vis
picking people based on other qualifications for the relevant
positions.  I am firmly convinced that more diverse
organizations (and especially decision-making bodies) function
better and produce better results.  I have also seen the IETF
make what I believe were poor technical decisions because
everyone involved was used to very high speed networks with
substantially unlimited capacity and the very latest and fastest
local computers and other local equipment, a problem with which
a different type of diversity would help too.  But, especially
on the IESG where AD positions require specific technical
expertise and understanding my suspicion is that any simple
answer to the question of how to balance those requirements
against diversity if there is a shortage of the combination in
the IETF is probably wrong.

I do want to make a suggestion to complement Bron's.  Would it
be useful to create a repository for confidential comments to
the 2021-2022 Nomcom right now?  We could then encourage Rich
and anyone else who thinks the 2020-2021 Nomcom got some things
wrong and that we can do better to upload comments in as much
detail as they think appropriate now, while their thinking is
still fresh.  But we would treat that material as confidential
comments to the future Nomcom, using whatever degree of security
cleverness we think is needed to prevent anyone from reading the
comments until the new Nomcom Chair is appointed and the keys
turned over to them.


> On Sat, 23 Jan 2021, 19:11 Loa Andersson, <> wrote:
>> Bron,
>> I agree with John, I think it is bac practice to discuss
>> names and selections.

> On 23/01/2021 13:09, Bron Gondwana wrote:

>> > Hi John,
>> > 
>> > I would say quite the opposite.  If he'd been selected and
>> > had to work with everyone else, then this would be an
>> > unfair question, but otherwise I think it's a vital
>> > question and deserves to be addressed.
>> > 
>> > We see many claims that it would be better to increase the
>> > diversity of representation among the leadership of people
>> > along certain of the axes along which humans differ, and
>> > Rich has specifically taken the time to decry a lack of
>> > said diversity in the current leadership (both concluding
>> > and incoming).
>> > 
>> > I'm actually particularly interested to see whether Rich
>> > suggests that he would have been the best choice for the
>> > role that he applied for, despite being white, male,
>> > cis-gendered and western.  Given those facts, I'm
>> > interested in how he squares the request for increased
>> > diversity with his candidacy, given that the diversity
>> > would by definition have to be created by picking
>> > non-{western white male}s for other roles in the leadership.
>> > 
>> > You can't divorce the abstract concerns from the concrete
>> > underlying constraints.  It's nice to have those concerns
>> > in the abstract, but "rough consensus and running code" -
>> > you can't have a rough consensus that "we get more type-X
>> > person into leadership" without running "we encourage
>> > type-X people to run and we choose them when they do".
>> > 
>> > I observe a lot of "we should have more of people not like
>> > me in leadership, and yet I want to keep my place in
>> > leadership" in the world, and it's incongruent.  I don't
>> > think Rich's statement of a general goal can stand
>> > independent of there existing realistic pathways to achieve
>> > that goal, and hence I think it's fair to ask Rich what
>> > realistic pathway exists to have delivered a result that he
>> > would have been more satisfied with than this one.
>> > 
>> > Regards,
>> > 
>> > Bron.