Re: The Next Generation

Nico Williams <> Wed, 11 September 2019 19:47 UTC

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Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2019 14:47:24 -0500
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From: Nico Williams <>
To: S Moonesamy <>
Cc: Rob Sayre <>,
Subject: Re: The Next Generation
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On Wed, Sep 11, 2019 at 11:22:39AM -0700, S Moonesamy wrote:
> Hi Rob,
> At 05:35 PM 03-09-2019, Rob Sayre wrote:
> > I noticed there were some parts of the last IETF meeting (105) that were
> > sparsely attended. And, the attendees of those meetings tended to be
> > [removed]. There's nothing wrong with that: no one chooses their
> > [removed].
> > 
> > Although there is value in experience, maybe the IETF should work to
> > hand off some duties to more diverse younger people.
> > 
> > As a start, I propose identifying some current groups that could be
> > better-handled by
> My reading of the relevant rules is that the message which I am sending is
> off-topic for this mailing list.  For what it is worth, one of the points in
> your message (re. newcomers) was discussed [1] on this mailing list about a
> decade ago.

Did the SAAs call out Sayre's post as off-topic??  I didn't notice.  But
you know, there's so much noise on this list lately...  If they said
nothing even privately, then frankly that would be another stain on
their recent performance.  We can't quite know if they objected
privately, of course, so it's hard to say.

> There has been various proposals over the years about newcomers.  Those
> proposals do not set a metric for success.  Some time ago, I chose a number
> as part of an effort to get new people interested in working for free.  I
> reached half that number at the end of that endeavor.  Based on that, I
> would describe the venture as a failure.
> The person selecting people for the various roles is the Area Director.  It
> is his/her responsibility to assess whether the Area is attracting new
> people and whether there aren't any obstacles which prevent or discourage
> those new people from staying around.

Not quite so.  We're a VOLUNTEER organization.  That means we're
self-selected.  ADs don't get to select participants.  ADs may get to
select or help select chairs for WGs, but that's about it.

Now, some volunteers are asked by their employers to work on IETF
matters, some by their customers, and others do it for other reasons.

In principle the IETF could ask employers to be more, er, discriminating
as to who they assign to work at the IETF.  I wonder what the EEOC in
the U.S. would think of that, were the IETF to do such a thing.  I can
imagine lawsuits.  So before the IETF does any such thing, I'd recommend
talking to lawyers.  In any case, that leaves all other self-selected
volunteers free to self-select.

IETF leadership is another story.  Though again, one wonders what the
EEOC would think of the NomCom discriminating on bases for which
discrimination in employment is forbidden -- the NomCom isn't an
employer, so perhaps "nothing" is what the EEOC would think, but maybe
Congress would think something else entirely.  Again, speak to a lawyer
before you think of engaging in such discrimination at the NomCom!

Even so, the NomCom selects from among the group of self-selected

We can have a self-selected volunteer organization with zero control
over its volunteers diversity scores, or we can have a non-volunteer
organization that might be able to have an effect on the diversity of
its actual participants through bylaws and governance that would have
to..  not run afoul of American laws (the IETF, ISOC, and related
entities being American legal entities).

Who here can imagine the IETF no longer being a volunteer organization?

I can, with effort anyways.  I can imagine the IETF being like the
Unicode Consortium, the IEEE, OASIS, ISO/ANSI, ITU-T -- pay-big-bucks-
to-play.  It's somewhat surprising that the IETF has not yet become a
pay-to-play organization, or that it exists at all instead of the ITU-T
taking over its functions.  The IETF becoming pay-to-play would be the
simplest way to put an end to all the recent bickering on this list, so
there's that.