Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"

"Murray S. Kucherawy" <> Mon, 14 April 2014 17:12 UTC

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Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:12:14 -0700
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Subject: Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"
From: "Murray S. Kucherawy" <>
To: "George, Wes" <>
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On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 8:08 AM, George, Wes <>wrote;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."
> [...]

Hi Wes,

I'm so glad you posted this.  I imagine there's a large community of
engineers, open source and otherwise, that avoid getting involved in
standards work in the first place specifically for the reasons this article
and this thread are highlighting.

There's a large part of my time in the IETF, spanning several employers of
varying sizes, that has been frustrating because there are serious pain
points that need solving, but even creative solutions are often stymied by
a wall of objection rather than curiosity and exploration.  It's exhausting
to want to make the Internet work better but be told time and again that
it's as good as it can get, and that fixing what's broken would cost too
much because any useful change would just be too disruptive (though
sometimes only to a vocal minority).  Worse, I've bought the argument, and
thus (sadly) started doing the same thing to others, in direct conflict
with my open source roots and other similar influences.

The DMARC issue at hand is possibly a good, though extreme, example.  Part
of the email community is suffering a great deal of pain because of the
abuse brought about by the fact that definitions made 30 years ago have
evidently not scaled to the modern Internet.  Previous efforts at solutions
have drawn huge investments of time and energy, but ultimately have had
limited (i.e., almost no) effect in the name of being purely incremental
and non-disruptive, brought on by a few who cling tenaciously to the status
quo.  Finally one operator had enough and did something terribly drastic,
presumably because no solution has been forthcoming in a decade or more.
>From where I sit, it looks a lot like we, the IETF, have failed to produce
workable solutions, opting instead to come to consensus on a "Sorry, it is
what it is" posture.  This is the result.

I believe in standards work, and I find the work very stimulating when it
actually makes progress.  But I also get tired sometimes of having to
explain to my employers, who foot the bill for my participation, why I'm
still going, because the impact just isn't there.