meta-list (was Re: New Non-WG Mailing List: CACAO)

Andrew Sullivan <> Thu, 13 September 2018 03:24 UTC

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Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2018 00:23:55 -0300
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From: Andrew Sullivan <>
Subject: meta-list (was Re: New Non-WG Mailing List: CACAO)
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Dear colleagues,

On Thu, Sep 13, 2018 at 03:55:09AM +0100, Stephen Farrell wrote:

> Only other thing to note is that this happens so
> often (new list for who knows what) that maybe the
> tooling's a bit wrong and encourages folks to ok
> or ask for lists without considering that others
> don't have the same (or any) context.

While I think that is part of a possible explanation, I will note some
other things that may be leading to these meta-whether-list-should-be

1.  People try to discuss a draft in a place where others don't want
to hear about it, at which point they are told that getting a list is
easy and they should just go do that.  Not unreasonably, they do, and
given the story they've been told it is hard to justify saying no.

2.  IETFers complain that "the leadership" is doing too much, making
too many decisions, or otherwise being to gatekeeper-y.  If we send
others constant negative feedback about them turning down things they
might have accepted with a few adjustments, their natural response
will be quite naturally to approve more things, particularly when it
is relatively low cost such as the creation of a mailing list.  (It is
worth observing that the combination of 1 and 2 means that people who
are approving lists might be thought of as appearing in a Joseph
Heller book.)

3.  IETF has in fact become rather gatekeeper-y.  There used to be
_lots of_ lists that were not hosted on, and that required
absolutely no permission from anyone to get set up (you could do it
yourself on your own box).  This turned out to have some occasionally
negative consequences (for instance, that a long-lived WG could rely
on a list that could be deleted out from under the WG chairs while
they were flying to, say, China).  Now, it might be that people are
treating the creation of a mailing list as a sort of
proto-proto-chartering decision, rather like the way BoFs have become
such a Big Deal, but I am not sure that outcome is desirable.

It might be worth asking whether everyone who might care about the
IETF really needs to know what every mailing list is for.
If you don't know whether something is worth following, and there's no
history in the archive, what are the chances that learning about it
later is going to be fatal for your ability to say something useful
about the work?

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan