Re: Virtual BOFs

John C Klensin <> Sun, 10 January 2016 14:39 UTC

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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2016 09:39:29 -0500
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
Subject: Re: Virtual BOFs
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--On Saturday, January 09, 2016 23:47 -0500 Phillip Hallam-Baker
<> wrote:

>> p.s. I read Phillip's note, but I see most of the issues he
>> has raised as more "bad charter", "bad WG management",
>> "failure of the IESG to supervise adequately", or even "not
>> enough mechanisms for feedback by the broader community into
>> how a WG is going" and not specifically BOF problems.
> The BOF part of the issue is what the purpose of the BOF
> should be.
> I think we spend rather too little time discussing what the
> general problem space is. There are main two ways that a WG
> can fail. The first is that they pick something so big and
> complex that they can't deliver. We haven't done that for a
> long time. The second is that they tackle a problem so small
> that either nobody cares or nobody can actually make use of it
> without the rest of the support required. We do that a lot.

I may disagree about the frequency of  the first of those and
situations in which we still do it.   In particular, I think
some of the things that you identify as "problem so small..."
result from taking on something large, discovering that its
implications and issues are too complex for at least some of the
participants (and their personal or organizational deadlines) to
think about and respond by carving off the part of the problem
they understand and can "solve" (often by finding a handy hammer
and deciding the problem is the proverbial nail) and declaring
it is the problem.  I fear that a lot of what is being proposed
or done in the name of privacy falls into that category.   Or
perhaps that is a third important failure mode.

> Having a virtual BOF and spending a day or two days
> brainstorming the problem area is probably a better use of
> people's time than a lot of other things we do.

We agree about that, at least.  I hope it was implied in my
comments to Brian, but I think one of the main advantages of a
virtual BOF, especially one well in advance of the f2f BOF
cutoff date, is the ability to say "not ready yet" and try again
(perhaps even with another virtual BOF or two) without the cost
of losing three or four months.  I don't know how often "we've
held this BOF and now the only alternative to approving a
possibly-inadequate charter is to lose four months" has led to
some of the decisions you (and I) lament, but it can't help.