Re: Planned experiment: A new mailing list for last-call discussions

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Sat, 14 September 2019 13:20 UTC

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Date: Sat, 14 Sep 2019 09:20:21 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Barry Leiba <barryleiba@computer.org>
cc: IETF <ietf@ietf.org>
Subject: Re: Planned experiment: A new mailing list for last-call discussions
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Barry,

--On Saturday, September 14, 2019 08:52 -0400 Barry Leiba
<barryleiba@computer.org>; wrote:

> I don't follow this reasoning, John: it's already the case
> that many IETF participants don't subscribe to the IETF
> discussion list, and subscribing to it is not in any way a
> requirement.  Lots of people opt out and do not think they're
> opting out of participation in IETF consensus.

I have had the impression that, despite dropouts due to volume
on the list and other factors, the vast majority of active IETF
participants (those who were contributing to focused technical
mailings lists such as WG ones and/or coming to meetings and
participating in technical work) were still on the IETF list.
That impression may well be obsolete and the proportion of
participants who are on the list and paying attention to at
least the beginning and/or end of most threads is much lower
than what I thought it was a decade ago.  Or maybe I was too
optimistic and wrong even then.

If fairly low subscriptions and involvement among active
participants is the present reality, then you are quite correct
and my concern is irrelevant to the proposed experiment.

>  Last-call
> announcements go to ietf-announce and are visible to people
> who subscribe to that, and not to this.  Last-call discussions
> are often copied to the working group, as well.
> 
> If anything, separating the lists might *increase* the number
> of people who explicitly subscribe to last-call discussions
> (but who don't want to deal with the high volume on this list).

Indeed, especially if the subscription and involvement (or at
least active observation) level by IETF participants on the IETF
list is actually low, that might be a useful outcome.  It would
be good if could figure out a way to measure that, for example,
keeping track of subscriptions to the new list by people who
were not subscribed to the IETF one before the experiment
started, ideally controlling for newcomers.

I want to be clear, in case I haven't been, that I have never
been opposed to this experiment and am not now.   I have only
wanted to raise issues and concerns we should be aware of going
into it, including matters of timing and being alert to possible
side-effects.

I'll start a different thread, I hope later today, to address
the concern about the interplay between low subscription (or
involvement or at least active observation) rates and how we
think and talk about about IETF consensus.

best,
   john