Re: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists"

Keith Moore <> Wed, 28 November 2012 15:18 UTC

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Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2012 10:18:05 -0500
From: Keith Moore <>
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Subject: Re: "IETF work is done on the mailing lists"
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On 11/27/2012 01:00 PM, Barry Leiba wrote:
> This brings up a question that I have as an AD: A number of times 
> since I started in this position in March, documents have come to the 
> IESG that prompted me (or another AD) to look into the document 
> history for... to find that there's basically no history. We see a 
> string of versions posted, some with significant updates to the text, 
> but *no* corresponding mailing list discussion. Nothing at all. The 
> first we see of the document on the mailing list is a working group 
> last call message, which gets somewhere between zero and two responses 
> (which say "It's ready."), and then it's sent to the responsible AD 
> requesting publication. When I ask the responsible AD or the document 
> shepherd about that, the response is that, well, no one commented on 
> the list, but it was discussed in the face-to-face meetings. A look in 
> the minutes of a few meetings shows that it was discussed, but, of 
> course, the minutes show little or none of the discussion. We accept 
> that, and we review the document as usual, accepting the document 
> shepherd's writeup that says that the document has "broad consensus of 
> the working group." So here's my question: Does the community want us 
> to push back on those situations?

Please, please, please push back on those discussions.

Far too many documents are being represented as WG consensus, and then 
IETF consensus, when there's nothing of the sort.   This degrades the 
overall quality of IETF output, confuses the community of people who use 
IETF standards, and potentially does harm to the Internet by promoting 
use of protocols that haven't been carefully vetted.

Simply presenting a document at a face-to-face meeting and asking people 
to raise hands or hum in approval isn't sufficient.   A necessary 
condition for IESG consideration of a WG document should be that several 
people have posted to the WG mailing list that they've read it, and that 
they consider it desirable and sound.