F2F vs email (was: FIXED: RFCs with page numbers (pretty please) ? (was: Page numbers in RFCs questions / preferences))

Matthew Kerwin <matthew@kerwin.net.au> Wed, 28 October 2020 22:23 UTC

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From: Matthew Kerwin <matthew@kerwin.net.au>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2020 08:23:03 +1000
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Subject: F2F vs email (was: FIXED: RFCs with page numbers (pretty please) ? (was: Page numbers in RFCs questions / preferences))
To: Warren Kumari <warren@kumari.net>
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I'm picking up on a point here, hence the completely new thread:

On Thu., 29 Oct. 2020, 06:03 Warren Kumari, <warren@kumari.net> wrote:

> ... but the thing that is worrying
> me is the underlying "and you should feel bad" tone in much of this
> discussion.
> Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive (or that I just miss seeing IETFers
> in person), but it feels to me like the "and you should feel bad"
> subtext seems to be cropping up more and more. We used to generally
> assume that someone who had a bad or silly idea just had a bad or
> silly *idea* - but it now we often seem to be implying that the person
> is bad or silly.
> Other than being able to meet in person again, I'm not sure how we get
> back to where our base assumptions are that other IETFers are friends,
> and are also trying to do the right thing...
As someone who has never been able to afford to attend an IETF in person,
my interactions are almost entirely through written media.

If I wake up really early (or if time zones align) I can sometimes hear
voices in a one way broadcast-type format. But that's the closest thing to
personal "human" interaction. Usually it's email messages, or occasionally
github tickets.

What I've seen and read in these threads is not remarkable in any way:

To start with, it's something that doesn't really matter very much, so
according to the bike shedding principle people will have strong opinions.
It also opened with a poll, which raised the hackles of those to whom "no
votes, consensus and running code" is fundamentally important. A
potentially personally charged discussion.

Then some number of people interpreted the topic in different ways, asking
for related but different features. In the height of that confusion,
someone arguing against feature-x could be read as arguing against
feature-y. That was a mess, and I think we're still not entirely out of it

Because a lot of the discussion is about things that are personal
preferences, any rebuttal potentially becomes personal. Any "this is bad or
silly" is very easily interpreted as "YOU are bad and silly". Personal
preferences and feelings are hard to argue at the best of times. But
reading dispassionately from the sidelines I've seen very little that I'd
interpret as ad hominem. Some raw issues from the past have come up, but
most of the here-and-now discussion has been about the merits and risks of
tooling and document structures and media and processes.

I don't know what it says about IETF culture (if it says anything) that you
detect animosity in a discussion that is really quite mundane and common,
and your initial reaction is to use in-person meetings as a salve. That's
not to say anything about (or against) you as a person, but your view of
the IETF and its people is formed very differently from mine.

I'm also not sure how we get back to where our base assumptions are that
other IETFers are friends, and are also trying to do the right thing,
except for us to individually decide to assume as much, and give people the
benefit of the doubt if it feels like their dismissal of our personal
preference is a dismissal of us as a person. I really don't want that to
sound like "you are wrong for feeling bad", because that's not what I'm
trying to say; rather more like, inspect our emotional reactions and see if
there is an underlying cause for them that we can take action on, and if
not, then we can move on.

I think Julian Reschke did a good job in the message 'An attempt to
summarize the "page numbers in ToC" situation' on the rfc-interest list of
summarising the features as actionable requests, and logging tickets where
there was something that seemed valid.

Matthew Kerwin