Interim meetings - changing the way we work

t.p. <> Sun, 15 February 2015 14:06 UTC

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Subject: Interim meetings - changing the way we work
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:57:13 +0000
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There has been a marked increase in the number of  interim meetings.
as a guide, there were
18 in 2011
35 in 2012
45 in 2013
84 in 2014
13 in January 2015 alone.

With them comes a change in the way of working, perhaps rendering some
of our practices historic.

Of the 84 meetings listed for 2014, 21 left no other trace on the IETF
web site, no Agenda, no Minutes, no Proceedings.  Perhaps the WG
provided no materials, perhaps they did not happen; sometimes a
cancellation notice is apparent in the WG List Archives, other times

Of the 63 that have left a trace, 6 produced no Minutes but did produce
slides or recordings and so presumably happened.

Of the 57 that produced Minutes, 18 produced no Agenda while in 13
cases, the Minutes contained no list of Attendees (goodbye Blue

Only 26 meetings left a complete record, of Agenda, Minutes and

The meetings encompassed 30 Working Groups, of which 16 met once, 14
more than once, with one WG meeting 8 times.

What is more subjective is that, with Virtual Interims, increasingly the
only kind, there is a tendency for the WG Mailing List to no longer
provide a record of discussions, choices, consensus.  For example, they
may make greater use of github so that the minutes record a discussion
of options 1, 2 and 3 for Issue 29 with no indication of what the issue
or options are; a while later, they may record an update to option 3 so
it would now seem impossible to know what was discussed at the earlier

Even with the better minutes, they never give the same sense as posts to
a mailing list of who was or was not in favour and how strong their view

Of course, we still have WG Last Calls on the list but if at a future
date, an AD or GenArt reviewer wants to look back and see what options
were discussed and  how rough the consensus was, well, it may be

A post in another thread recently said

> I do think that the increased significance of meetings
> in IETF participation (and here, I'm not talking about
> things like nomcom but about significance to our technical
> work) is a problem, both because it tends to marginalize
> people who can't come to meetings and because it slows
> work down.

Well, I disagree about slowing the work down but certainly agree with
the marginalisation, that WGs holding multiple Interims may tend to
develop an in-crowd of those that can participate with the world at
large only seeing the end result without knowing how it was arrived at
by whom.

Tom Petch