Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Carsten Bormann <> Wed, 24 February 2021 06:37 UTC

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Subject: Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
From: Carsten Bormann <>
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Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2021 07:36:55 +0100
Cc: Keith Moore <>,
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>> (Though I also remember that when I first started writing drafts, the notion of "shepherd" did not exist yet.   I definitely had supportive comments and constructive suggestions from other participants via private email after I submitted my initial draft, and I had been on the working group mailing list since before the group was chartered so I was familiar with the conversation. IETF was smaller then than it is now, but not that much smaller. What's changed is that we have more bureaucracy, more rules, and a much wider and more diverse range of increasingly narrow interests.)
> If the sort of “shepherd” you’re referring to is a Document Shepherd, by the time one is assigned many newcomers would have long since given up. My experience is that a shepherd is assigned once a document has reached WG rough consensus and wants to advance the document. Of course the document isn’t finished at that point and still has to pass muster with IESG, but a lot has had to happen to get to that point.
> The various mentor programs do more to promote diversity and inclusiveness than document shepherds, IMO.

Shepherd maybe wasn’t the best choice of word (no, I didn’t mean the document shepherd).

A mentor is someone who helps a person becoming more productive in the IETF.
In our current program, this is more of a temporary arrangement, for an IETF or so.

What is really useful for a new technology to come in is someone who is rooted in the IETF, but also understands that new technology and helps the promoters of that technology to frame their proposal in a way that it makes sense in the IETF.  Somewhat different from a mentor.

If it is clear where the new technology is to go, a WG chair can sometimes do that job.
When there isn’t a good fit, that technology shepherd is more sorely needed, and more difficult to find.

Grüße, Carsten