Re: Proposed Revisions to IETF Trust Administrative Procedures

John C Klensin <> Fri, 11 April 2008 10:41 UTC

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Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 06:40:43 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Ted Hardie <>, Ray Pelletier <>
Subject: Re: Proposed Revisions to IETF Trust Administrative Procedures
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While I could live with this, I agree, strongly, with Ted.  The
character and volume of comments, including organized outside
interventions, in the IPR discussions of the last year or two,
should be sufficient to convince everyone how significant IPR
matters can get.   If the Trust is the holder of the IETF IPR,
and there is a <Chair of the IETF Trust>, then that person will
be seen by outsiders and the press as "official spokesperson for
the IETF on IPR matters".   While I think we can trust (sic)
that the person so designated will answer carefully or defer to
others, I don't think it is wise --for the Trust or for the
IETF-- for someone to be carrying that target around.  "Den
mother" really appears to me :-)

I also agree with Ted about the implied contradictions between
"this is an important position" and "well, it isn't".  The
problem, however, is not just in the name.   If, as section 2(d)
indicates, this position has no actual authority, then you
should clean up any other material that is consistent only with
"long-term important and responsible position".  For example,
the Chair should serve at the pleasure of the Trustees, and that
doesn't imply a supermajority vote to remove him or her.
"Pleasure of the Trustees" tells me that if a majority of the
Trustees have sufficiently lost confidence in a designated
leader (whether "Chair" or "Den Mother") to deal with the
disruption and effort to select someone else, then that person
should be out.  I would hope and assume that loss of confidence
by a majority of the Trustees would cause an immediate
resignation and that no voting would be needed.  If a vote to
remove is necessary, a  2/3 requirement sends exactly the wrong

Yes, going down to a majority increases the odds of thrashing in
that position slightly.  If the position isn't long-term
significant, that is not a problem (in the limiting case, it
just turns into a rotating chair).  Moreover, if there is
thrashing to the point that it becomes disruptive (something I
consider very unlikely, by the way), then there is a problem
that the IETF and/or ISOC should be dealing with by changing the
cast of characters.

So, again, I ask that, whatever you do, it be made internally
consistent in optics as well as in substance when read carefully
and believed (as well as preserving consistency with the Trust
Agreement, which has now been accomplished).   I do note, fwiw,
that I've seen zero support on the IETF list (including from
IAOC members) for a "strong IETF Trust Chair".  If you don't
intend "strong chair", then please clean such things as that
title and the supermajority out.


--On Thursday, 10 April, 2008 22:27 -0700 Ted Hardie
<> wrote:

> I have resisted contributing to this thread because so many of
> the salient points had already been made.  But permit me to
> make a small observation.
> This proposal has a general thrust that seems to say "This
> position is important, and we don't want to pile too much
> power in one pair of hands, so we can't let the following
> folks take the position, and we need explicit ways of removing
> someone from the position."  It also has a section (d), which
> downplays that reading by saying:
>> The Chair shall convene and preside over meetings of the
>> Trustees but shall have no other powers or authority beyond
>> his or her powers as a Trustee.  If the Trust Chair is not
>> available, then any other Trustee may convene or preside over
>> meetings of the Trustees in the  absence of the Trust Chair.
> When Brian tried to create "Vice Chairs" for the IESG, the
> IESG of the time was very concerned with both the optics
> inside the IETF, the optics outside the IETF, and the chance
> that Vice Chairs would eventually come to believe that they
> had a role  beyond chivvying folks to do get their positions
> in on time.  After much discussion, including silly
> suggestions by me, "Whips" got picked as the title instead.
> That worked, and the people doing the job helped a lot in
> taking up tasks that Brian did not have time for.
> A "Whip" is not what you're looking for here, but it seems
> clear to me that the terminology of "Chair" is going to set up
> the same kind of expectations that have caused problems
> before.  This person *will*, for example, get called for
> quotes by press looking at IPR issues in the IETF.  They can
> push those off, but believe me that there is a target painted
> on the back of the stuckee with this choice of phrase.
> Call this role a "meeting convener" or "show runner" or "den
> mother" or something else less likely to cause confusion and
> attract trouble.  That will help, at least in my opinion.
> Names matter, and the one you've chosen implies powers that
> all the sub-clauses in the document can't truly take away.
> Thanks for listening,
> 				Ted

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