Re: [Diversity] 'Paywall, ' IETF self-sufficiency, increasing participation (was Re: Remote participation fees)

Brian E Carpenter <> Sun, 01 March 2015 19:38 UTC

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Date: Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:38:27 +1300
From: Brian E Carpenter <>
Organization: University of Auckland
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To: Pranesh Prakash <>
Subject: Re: [Diversity] 'Paywall, ' IETF self-sufficiency, increasing participation (was Re: Remote participation fees)
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On 01/03/2015 15:04, Pranesh Prakash wrote:
> Brian E Carpenter <> [2015-03-001 14:15:05
> +1300]:
>> Additionally, the IETF interprets each person's input as individual,
>> whether it is or it isn't. That in itself is quite effective in
>> disenfranchising employers.
> Is there an RFC that states this?

The fact that we participate as individuals is documented in BCP 95 (RFC
The way we evaluate consensus is discussed (informationally) in RFC 7282.

> Further, regardless of how the IETF treats inputs in theory, the reality
> is:
> 1) A large percentage of IETF participants are paid by their employers
> for participating in IETF proceedings and meetings.
> 2) Employers are in no way, shape, or form discouraged from putting
> forward their views through their employees.
> 3) A sizeable number of IETF participants do so using their work e-mail
> addresses.
> 4) Employers' names are mentioned in each RFC to indicate an
> individual's pedigree.

I don't know what the word "pedigree" means in this context, and some people
prefer not to state their employer's name. However, yes, as a matter of
fact people's participation, their technical perceptions and their
are affected by their employment. It would be delusional to imagine that
else is possible.

> I would like to know how employers are disenfranchised when this is the
> reality.

I am not sure that you have any experience in other SDOs where participation
and decision-making are entirely determined by corporate membership. If you
had any such experience, I think you would understand that while the IETF
system is not perfect, it largely resists corporate bullying.

> I find this entire, "we are all individuals" line to be the foundational
> fiction of

It's a shame that sentence got truncated, but since the IETF started
(years before I was involved) as a meeting of 21 indivduals, some of
whom still participate in the IETF despite numerous changes of employer,
individual participation is a foundational fact of

>> Also we do, all of us, know how to recognise when someone is parrotting
>> the BigEvil Corporation's party line, and we all know that if six people
>> with the same affiliation have identical opinions on a contentious
>> point, that's roughly equivalent to one individual opinion.
> My worry isn't BigEvil corporation.  My concern is that pretending
> individuals who are paid for by their employers and those who
> participate purely in their personal capacity are somehow equal because
> of their equal capacity to hum is fallacious and harmful towards
> achieving diversity.  

There's no fallacy. It is commonplace to see interventions by self-
employed consultants knock down arguments by BigEvil Corp employees.
The IETF is a technical meritocracy, by design.

> The first step towards achieving diversity is
> recognizing that a) there is a lack of diversity; b) there are reasons
> preventing diversity.

But you'd better be right about those reasons. I see nothing in the IETF
model of individual participation that prevents diversity; rather the
opposite, in fact.

>> The rough consensus process is actually quite good at resisting gaming
>> by BigEvil Corporation; see sections 6 and 7 of RFC 7282.
> Again: my concern isn't gaming of consensus, nor do I believe
> corporations who sponsor their employees' IETF work are evil.  My
> concern is diversity within the IETF and within the larger sphere of
> Internet governance.

Those are two entirely different questions. As far as the IETF goes,
we need to attract and welcome top class engineers who have the
capacity *as individuals* to join the technical meritocracy. As far
as "the larger sphere of Internet governance" goes, the more time
passes, the less idea I have of what that means or why it matters.

And I remind you that this thread started around the question of how
can we fund a model with more emphasis on remote participation and
less emphasis on face-to-face meetings. It's a sad fact that without
money at the level of a few $M per year, we can't fund any model at all.