Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom ELEGIBILITY

Michael Richardson <> Thu, 12 February 2015 20:17 UTC

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From: Michael Richardson <>
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Subject: Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom ELEGIBILITY
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Joel Halpern <> wrote:
    > I am starting to sympathize with Mike.  What is our goal here.

I wrote a long email last night, but I did not press send, because I wanted
to try to be clear, and I know that I tend to be long winded and
rambly. {"Oops, I did it again"}

The goal is, I think, to have an I* which is make up competent people, who
spend a reasonable amount of time, but not 100%, making the Internet a better
place for everyone on the planet.  That means not just having a diverse group
of people in charge, but making sure that it's clear to everyone on the
planet that we welcome them: that we desire their participation.

A major feedback from the confirming bodies into the nomcom is about
diversity of all sorts: gender, age, culture, geography.   The ISOC board
really cares about this (and that discussion is one reason the IAB
announcement took longer, btw).  How can we have more diversity without
sacrificing any of the other things that are also important: like being able
to work well together.

People have been upset during the past two nomcoms (both of which I was on),
about the resulting diversity coming out of the selection process.  The
reality is that the nomcom can't produce diversity; it only filter the input
for the best people.  That means we if we want diversity, we have to feed the
pipeline at the bottom.  That presents a bit of an innovator's dilemma
because the current group of people have been doing things this way for a
long time, and it has supposedly been "working"...

Yet, notice how hard it is to get younger people in?
How has the average age of IETF participants grown?

The nomcom eligibility is about as close as we have to a membership process.
The nomcom eligibility really says to most people: this the minimal amount of
resources we expect a person to have (and expend) in order to participate.

Right now that criteria significantly excludes people for whom:
   - travel is expensive for them and/or their company

   - obtaining a US visa is hard. *this is really a huge diversity killer*

   - being away from home and/or office for ~10 days is a challenge
     (remember that operators have other events, and if we want people
     who write the code to be enfranchised, we have to remember that they
     have other *code* related events)

   - travel is just physically difficult for all sorts of reasons
     (we have a regular and recurring thread on this)

Furthermore, the current criteria, essentially leads to a kind of oligarchy.
People who are present are the people who decide who shall make the
decisions, and can essentially only select among those who are present.

The remote participation process is poor in part because nobody of
significance uses it regularly (and it doesn't enfranchise you).  Since the
people who make the decisions are never remote, and the people who make the
decisions about who makes the decisions are also not remote participants.

We claim that we are an open, no-membership required, inclusive organization.

But, the "cabal" that runs the IETF is the group of ~600 people who attend
essentially every meeting, and I think that about 100 of those people are
possibly "Elmers".  Of the other 600, I suspect 300 attend regularly, but
below the 3/5 level, are sometimes above/sometimes below thus too busy
to volunteer, and 300 were proximal to the meeting, so they came (even if it
wasn't their first meeting).

But, I note that the nomcom doesn't get 600 volunteers, and of the 233 names
that I did get, about 80 were rejected: half were very new and surprised at
the criteria, and the other half were surprised to realize that they were not
eligible.  Perhaps Joel, you still have your list from when you were chair;
it would be interesting to compile those statistics into a graph.

I also want to repeat what Ted said this morning about "carbonfest".

Michael Richardson <>ca>, Sandelman Software Works
 -= IPv6 IoT consulting =-