RE: Things that I think obvious....

"Tony Hain" <> Tue, 21 September 2004 15:46 UTC

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From: Tony Hain <>
To: 'Harald Tveit Alvestrand' <>,
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 08:32:02 -0700
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Subject: RE: Things that I think obvious....
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Harald Tveit Alvestrand wrote:
> I thought it would make sense for me to mention a few things I have
> regarded as "obvious" in this discussion - just to make sure nobody comes
> along later and says "you can't draw a conclusion based on that - while I
> agree with you, there might be others who don't" or something like that.
> Clarity is good.
> It is very hard to state these things in a way where nobody can quibble
> with the formulations, but I will try anyway.
> 1 - The IETF exists, and it is the IETF community.
> Even though we have carefully avoided defining its boundaries, I believe
> that we all believe that the IETF exists. 

Well at the functional level I agree, but at the legal/political level it is
clear that the IETF doesn't exist. Historically this has been intentional,
but it creates the side effect in these discussions that 'The IETF' is not
in any position to enter into a recognized business relationship or
contract. The entire discussion about incorporating the IETF vs. an entity
to manage the administration functions is wrapped tightly around this

> And it's obvious that if the
> people who do the technical work leave, the IETF is nothing.
> So the IETF is the community.

This point can not be overstated. There is no way to 'take over the IETF'
because there is nothing of explicit value, and if the community decides
outside organizations are gaining undue influence they can simply take the
work elsewhere leaving nothing behind. 

> 2 - The IETF leadership is the IESG and IAB.
> Some jobs are clearly given to the IESG in our documents; other jobs are
> clearly given to the IAB. Some jobs are not mentioned at all.
> As part of the process of change, the community may select other people or
> create new bodies for other types of leadership.
> And the IAB and IESG has to be in a continuing dialogue with the community
> in order to figure out what the right things to do are.
> But there is at present no other leadership function selected by the
> community.

The Working Group chairs are a functional leadership, but they are not
selected by the wider community so I guess your definition is still intact. 

> 3 - The community has accepted the problem description and principles laid
> out in RFC 3716.
> The most common reaction I have had from people who have read RFC 3716 is
> "it's obvious, now that you say it". And it would be hard for anyone who
> reads the IETF list or the IETF-announce list, or the most recent
> plenaries, to be completely unaware of its existence, or that we are
> basing
> further work on its conclusions.

Well the document blames the external relationships for the ambiguity, when
in fact it is the explicit lack of formality in the IETF definition that is
the root of those problems. In particular 3.1.3 is not technically possible
as written because there is no entity for the supporting organization to
enter into a contract with. To be clear, I am not arguing for incorporating
the IETF because I think there is substantial value in the ambiguity that
MUST NOT be lost. I am simply pointing out that the language being used in
the discussion is biased around the false assumption in (1) above, and
should be tempered appropriately. 


> So - if there was significant disagreement with its conclusions - I'd have
> expected to hear that before now.
> As I said - I *think* these things are fairly obvious. But it might still
> be reasonable to check that other people agree.
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