Re: Wow, we're famous, was WG Review: Effective Terminology in IETF Documents (term)

Bron Gondwana <> Sun, 18 April 2021 06:11 UTC

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Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2021 16:11:07 +1000
From: "Bron Gondwana" <>
Subject: =?UTF-8?Q?Re:_Wow, _we're_famous, _was_WG_Review:_Effective_Terminology_in?= =?UTF-8?Q?_IETF_Documents_(term)?=
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Not sure if deliberate misunderstanding or not - but I believe this is about my comments since I was the main proponent of "a lack of consensus in the NY Times comment section supports a hypothesis of a lack of consensus in wider US society".

And none of your long comments here address that, they instead conflate it with IETF consensus (which I never claimed that the NY Times comment section has any bearing on).

I would claim there isn't rough consensus on whether particular technical-English terms should be retired in the US population, let alone in the rest of the world.  I doubt there's even rough consensus within the English-speaking technical world, most of whom are just keeping their heads down and trying to do their jobs.

So I believe your source of frustration is a misunderstanding of what I wrote.  I guess at the furthest analysis that is my fault for being unclear, and I apologise that I wasn't able to make my point sufficiently.



P.S. Your example shows that it's all about how you phrase the question - what's the burden of proof here - that the sidebar design was good, or that it was bad.  Flip the logic and you also don't have consensus that it's a good idea to have the navigation on the sidebar.  Consensus would be all 6 finding it easy to use.  33% disagreeing is not consensus by any definition of the word, even the IETF Tao would say "you need to understand and address their objection" or something to that effect.

On Fri, Apr 16, 2021, at 02:34, Ofer Inbar wrote:
> I'm not writing to express an opinion about what TERM should or should
> not recommend; I'm writing to express frustration that people think the
> NY Times comments section is applicable as a form of "lack of consensus".
> I'm going to make three points, ordered from least to most important:
> First of all, not only is the NY Times readership not representative
> of the US population, but also the comments section is not
> representative of NY Times readership - it is a small and
> systematically different subset.  And, neither the US population nor
> the NY Times readership is representative of potential IETF
> participants or potential technologists who may use IETF documents.
> So this population's relationship to the population we should care
> about is vauge and indeterminate, which makes this inapplicable.
> Even for the negative case.
> Secondly, IETF consensus isn't based on the potential population as a
> whole; it's supposed to be the consensus of the group that has spent
> time working on and studying that specific issue and are very familiar
> with all of the reasoning in various directions, and the pros and cons
> of each decision.  It's their consensus we care about, not random
> others - who may even be active IETF members - who just looked at a
> brief summary and gave their opinion.  Those random others can give
> very useful insights and if they make valid points we should consider
> them, but they're not part of the consensus call, nor should they be.
> I'm sure that there are many times when an IETF working group has come
> to consensus even while plenty of less informed people leaned in a
> different direction, and that's how the system is supposed to work,
> for a reason.
> Thirdly and most importantly, this discussion is blatantly conflating
> "consensus" on completely different matters anyway.  I'll make an
> analogy to usability testing to illustrate.
> I once worked at social media web startup, before they launched, and I
> instituted usability testing and organized the first several rounds.
> We initially had a navigation bar down the left side plus another bar
> on the right side that had some important links.  In one of my first
> sessions, we brought six users in to try a series of simple tasks, at
> least one of which called for using a feature whose link was on the
> right.  4 of the users quickly clicked on the link, since its text
> matched the task we asked them to do; 2 of the users searched around
> the page for a while and gave up and said they couldn't figure out how
> to do what we asked.  When shown the link by the tester (me) so we
> could proceed, one said "oh I ignored all that section, it looked like
> an ad" and the other wasn't sure why they didn't notice it, but they
> had spent more than 60 seconds searching and mousing around the page.
> If we went by the logic I've seen in this thread, I would have
> concluded that there was no consensus that putting navigation links on
> a colorful sidebar on the right was a problem, and in fact preponderance
> of the evidence suggested it was not a problem because 4 out of 6
> users had no trouble with it.
> When it comes to what TERM is supposed to be doing, we are NOT looking
> for "consensus" on whether you want terms changed or whether they're a
> problem for you personally.  We're looking for the consensus of informed
> people on whether changes in terminology can on balance make things
> better, and that depends in part on whether existing terms are a
> problem or barrier for *some* relevant people, as well as on other
> things (such as what kinds of changes to recommend and the costs of
> those recommendations), but absolutely does NOT require that any
> particular terminology is a problem or barrier for a *majority* of
> relevant people in order to recommend changes.
> I leave it to the people in the group to spend the time to actually
> study the issue and determine what the issues and tradeoffs are, in
> the context of IETF documents.
>   -- Cos

  Bron Gondwana, CEO, Fastmail Pty Ltd