Re: Please welcome the facilitators at

Dave Crocker <> Thu, 10 November 2016 19:20 UTC

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From: Dave Crocker <>
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Subject: Re: Please welcome the facilitators at
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Organization: Brandenburg InternetWorking
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Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2016 04:19:49 +0900
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On 11/10/2016 7:53 AM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> I would say that the notion of a truly opinion-neutral facilitator will
> not work in most cases, especially during a debate on a divisive topic.


For a facilitator to work, there are a number of conditions that need to 
be met:

   *  There has to be a clear understanding of the role of a 
facilitator.  I think Brian's phrase "opinion-neutral" gets at one of 
the core requirements.  There are others about how that neutrality is 
applied and when.  Facilitation is a profession, with lots of associated 
documents and training.  But starting with a simple, factual 
"opinion-neutral" seems like a good foundation to me.

   *  There needs to be an institutional commitment to the exercise of 
that role.  That's more than just naming some folk.  The relatively easy 
part is that it means ensuring that facilitators have the skillset and 
it means training others to appreciate that skillset.  But 'training' is 
not enough, but there also needs to be the application of leverage over 
those who contribute in a fashion that works against the facilitation. 
Unfortunately, the IETF has a deep and persistent unwillingness to apply 
such pressures.  So folk who misbehave persistently do not, themselves, 
get trained to change their behavior.  (Folk are likely to disagree with 
this assessment, especially because of various, recent documents and 
discussion --as well as the very rare interventions along the lines of 
"folk, we can do better" spread amongst multiple contributors privately 
or an entire list publicly, although such interventions have no training 
effect, long term -- but the fact that people continue to feel 
permission to attack others, on a regular basis, serves as a visible 

   *  The role needs to be exercised extremely actively.  And this is, 
indeed, an enormous amount of work.  Worse, the nature of email and the 
fact of 7/24 traffic on IETF list email, make the need for immediate and 
continuing facilitation especially daunting.  And the fact that the 
trigger for that need can happen at any time, even more so.  One 
possible aid might be to get other participants to solicit facilitation 
as soon as they see the need.  This means we all have to have a sense of 
the conditions that warrant making the request.

and so on...



   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking