Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"

Tim Wicinski <> Mon, 14 April 2014 16:48 UTC

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Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:48:36 -0400
From: Tim Wicinski <>
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To: Abdussalam Baryun <>, "George, Wes" <>
Subject: Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"
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One thing I've stumbled across as WG Chair and Attempting to shepherd 
documents through the process is if you're not vigilant, that some 
comments or questions get lost in the process.

I like where httpbis WG has gone in using github for tracking issues 
raised during the document process. I think it has two useful cases: 1) 
when working with other groups outside IETF, it presents a nice 'neutral 
spot' for collaboration, and 2) their issue tracker is more lightweight 
and robust than the existing tools.

I think Ted's comment is right - we innovate when some group tries 
something to see if makes them more productive.


On 4/14/14, 12:17 PM, Abdussalam Baryun wrote:
> I was thinking of why many quit reviewing adopted IETF drafts (or
> even quit participating). In my situation there is a draft adopted in
> 6Lo WG and still the author does not answer my question reminder, and
> it may make me quit reviewing as well. I think IETF does not have
> problem of participants quit to write but participants quit to review
> and contribute more into drafts.
> AB
> On Monday, April 14, 2014, George, Wes wrote:
>     I’m surprised that no one has sent this out yet:
>     "Summary: After contributing to standards organizations for more
>     than seven years, engineer Vidya Narayanan decided it was time to
>     move on. Although she still believes that these organizations make
>     the Internet a better place, she wonders about the pace of change
>     versus the pace of organizations."
>     My thoughts-
>     There are some nuggets of truth in what she says in this article,
>     and in some of the comments. I think that the problems are real, so
>     there’s value in taking the criticism constructively, despite the
>     fact that the author chose to focus on the problems without any
>     suggestions of solutions.
>         "while the pace at which standards are written hasn’t changed in
>         many years, the pace at which the real world adopts software has
>         become orders of magnitude faster."
>         …
>         "Running code and rough consensus, the motto of the IETF, used
>         to be realizable at some point. … In the name of consensus, we
>         debate frivolous details forever. In the name of patents, we
>         never finish.”
>         …
>         "Unless these standards organizations make radical shifts
>         towards practicality, their relevance will soon be questionable.”
>     I don’t have too many big ideas how to fix these problems, but I’ll
>     at least take a crack at it in order to spur discussion. My
>     paraphrase of the problem and some discussion follows.
>     - We’ve lost sight of consensus and are too often derailed by a
>     vocal minority of those willing to endlessly debate a point.
>     Part of the solution to that is reiterating what consensus is and is
>     not, such as draft-resnick-on-consensus so that we don’t confuse a
>     need for consensus with a need for unanimity. Part of the solution
>     is IETF leadership helping to identify when we have rough consensus
>     encumbered by a debate that will never resolve itself, without
>     quieting actual disagreement that needs continued discussion in
>     order to find a compromise. I don’t have good suggestions on how to
>     make that second half better.
>     - We don’t have nearly enough focus on running code as the thing
>     that helps to ensure that we’re using our limited cycles on getting
>     the right things out expediently, and either getting the design
>     right the first time, or failing quickly and iterating to improve
>     The solution here may be that we need to be much more aggressive at
>     expecting any standards track documents to have running code much
>     earlier in the process. The other part of that is to renew our focus
>     on actual interop standards work, probably by charter or in-group
>     feedback, shift focus away from BCP and info documents. Perhaps when
>     considering whether to proceed with a given document, we need test
>     as to whether it’s actively helpful/needed and ensure that we know
>     what audience would be looking at it, rather than simply ensuring
>     that it is “not harmful” and mostly within the WG’s chartered focus.
>     Thanks,____
>     __ __
>     Wes George____
>     Anything below this line has been added by my company’s mail server,
>     I have no control over it.
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