Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?

Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com> Mon, 19 April 2021 21:00 UTC

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Subject: Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?
To: Leif Johansson <leifj@mnt.se>
Cc: ietf@ietf.org
References: <0b63d094-8c95-409f-282e-86231128f7b5@network-heretics.com> <1C5B7B67-27E5-41F5-89D4-765A407C1FC6@mnt.se> <1d7995d4-f193-2316-9052-d22c2961ac14@network-heretics.com> <8a1b6b42-d085-0b79-19e3-589b4e921b95@mnt.se>
From: Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com>
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Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2021 17:00:02 -0400
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On 4/19/21 4:09 PM, Leif Johansson wrote:

> On 2021-04-19 21:46, Keith Moore wrote:
>> On 4/19/21 11:51 AM, Leif Johansson wrote:
>>
>>>> In other words, they can spend all of their time politely explaining in detail why proposals are Bad Ideas, instead of getting useful work done.
>>> Point to where the useful work will be done if we don’t stop this.
>> I don't want to either dismiss your concern (which I share) or sound flippant, but I also wonder where the useful work will be done if we DO stop this.
> I appreciate your attempt to keep sticking to your point and trying to be serious
> about it but... I just don't buy the IETF as the group of brilliant but tortured
> souls who have "snarl" at each other to make themselves heard over the din of "Bad
> Ideas".

Well, again, I'm not even sure we're all talking about the same thing 
when we use the word "snarling".   And while I'm pretty sure that we 
need a way to push back on Bad Ideas, I'm not sure that what people are 
calling "snarling" is only or even mostly about discouraging Bad 
Ideas.   Maybe, for example, some of it is about "baggage" - old 
resentments for hard-fought battles lost, perceived insults, or even 
genuinely bad behavior.

> Where is this apocalyptic horde of Bad Ideas that is sucking up all of our precious
> resources?
One doesn't have to look very far to find some, just follow ietf@ or any 
of several mailing lists.   In theory at least, the situation would be 
worse if we didn't try to discourage them.
> The IETF meetings are growing smaller. Clearly we have figured out how
> to turn people away at the door.

With respect, it doesn't follow from just that information.  I'm sure we 
have surveys which have shown that some people have stopped attending 
because of what they perceived as rudeness, but there may be many more 
reasons than that.

What is IETF doing these days that's exciting, that helps make the 
Internet generally better in a way that's obvious to most participants, 
that gives participants a sense of purpose and makes them proud to work 
with IETF?   I don't think it's the null set, but it's certainly not 
like it was 30 years ago when there was a general sense of excitement 
about making this wonderful resource available to the world.

In conversations with IETFers I often get a sense of futility, as in 
"sure we could theoretically improve X, but we'd have to deal with these 
technical constraints and/or these people and/or these Big Companies".   
There's a lot more inertia around many kinds of Internet development 
than there used to be.   It's probably not IETF's fault, so much as a 
symptom of success.   But it has changed the landscape and how we feel 
about our work.

And yet, conditions have changed enough that the constraints around 
deployment of new features in some applications protocols and some 
layers of the stack may be less than they once were. Understanding where 
we can make a positive difference may be as important as understanding 
what limitations there are.

Keith