Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?

Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com> Mon, 19 April 2021 19:46 UTC

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Subject: Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?
To: Leif Johansson <leifj@mnt.se>
Cc: ietf@ietf.org
References: <0b63d094-8c95-409f-282e-86231128f7b5@network-heretics.com> <1C5B7B67-27E5-41F5-89D4-765A407C1FC6@mnt.se>
From: Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com>
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Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2021 15:46:32 -0400
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On 4/19/21 11:51 AM, Leif Johansson wrote:

>> In other words, they can spend all of their time politely explaining in detail why proposals are Bad Ideas, instead of getting useful work done.
> Point to where the useful work will be done if we don’t stop this.

I don't want to either dismiss your concern (which I share) or sound 
flippant, but I also wonder where the useful work will be done if we DO 
stop this.

I wonder if there's actually no good solution - no way to be open to 
participation by everyone without having some way of filtering ideas 
that sometimes seems rude.   We may be faced with a dilemma between 
seeming rude in a way that discourages many newcomers, versus so much 
time refuting Bad Ideas in detail that we can't accomplish much that's 
useful, and also discourages participation from both newcomers and 
experienced people.   I've certainly seen signs of both.

But I haven't yet reached the conclusion that there's no good solution, 
because I think there are still things to look at.

Things that I'm wondering are:

- What is "snarling" anyway, and are we all talking about the same 
thing?   Is snarling any kind of unpleasant feedback, or what?

- Is the problem really the language we use to discourage (presumably) 
Bad Ideas, or is it that we discourage them at all? Even if we improve 
our language for discouraging Bad Ideas (which IMO is worth trying), 
will we still be discouraging newcomers? Maybe not as much?   Are there 
occurrences of snarling which aren't about discouraging (presumably) Bad 
Ideas?

- Is it possible for us to get better at distinguishing between Bad 
Ideas and promising ideas?

- Assuming that some of what people are "snarling" about is in part 
displaced frustration from something else about IETF, is there anything 
we can do about that?

- What does it take to (re)create an IETF in which we're mostly happy 
about getting to do really useful work with really talented people?

Keith