Re: Fairness and changing rules

"Theodore Ts'o" <> Thu, 02 February 2006 14:57 UTC

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Date: Thu, 02 Feb 2006 09:57:23 -0500
From: Theodore Ts'o <>
To: Sam Hartman <>
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Cc: Harald Tveit Alvestrand <>, Scott Hollenbeck <>,,
Subject: Re: Fairness and changing rules
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On Tue, Jan 31, 2006 at 09:31:08PM -0500, Sam Hartman wrote:
>     Harald> I do not want the IETF to craft rules for "X", and then
>     Harald> re-craft them for "Y", "Z" and "W" because hastily crafted
>     Harald> rules did not fit the next situation to come along. I want
>     Harald> the rules to be reasonable, and stable.  And I think
>     Harald> making up rules while considering a specific unique case
>     Harald> is harmful to such a process.
> Perhaps.  However precident-based case law seems to work well for a
> number of process systems.

There is an old saying, "Hard cases make bad law", which shows that
there are certainly times when precedent-based case law does have its
failure modes.

The real problem I see here is the fact that we are _trying_ to make
lots and lots of rules.  Strict rules make (appear to make) life
easier, because then the people applying the rules can be programs,
and can just blindly follow the rules.  Ambiguous rules that don't
cover every last possible contingency with rules for each and every
case (what we have now) makes life painful, since we have these long
and extended and tiresome debates.  So there is an assumption that the
right place to go is have rules that cover all cases.

Of course, there is a 3rd possibility which is to simply make the
rules be that we trust the IESG to use its discretion wisely, and if
they abuse that right, people can either (a) throw the bums out at the
future nomcom cycles, or (b) choose to go to another standards body.
(This is, after all, not like Soviet Russia where if you don't like
the rights and due process that you receive, you can't go anywhere
else.)  The reality is, if we don't find a way of managing disruptive
people, it will be the _productive_ people that we decide to go
somewhere else.

Presumbly it is pretty clear which possibility I think makes the most


						- Ted

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