Making headway in the IETF [was Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF]

Brian E Carpenter <> Tue, 23 February 2021 21:22 UTC

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Subject: Making headway in the IETF [was Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF]
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From: Brian E Carpenter <>
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Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2021 09:20:11 +1300
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I suggest up-levelling this sub-thread away from one specific WG to a more general point, which IMNSHO is not really about diversity or inclusiveness at all.

Some newcomers to the IETF, even if they have many years of professional experience, find it hard to get started here, and a good fraction of them give up. (I dare say that we could actually measure that with a clever look at the statistics.) In particular, people with a specific goal (get WG X to do Y) are often disappointed.

I don't think that has anything to do with diversity or inclusivity. It has to do with:
a) The Internet is complicated. Problems that look simple turn out to be very hard. That can look like the IETF is being difficult.
b) The IETF has learned the hard way that narrowly chartered WGs tend to succeed (or fail quickly). If WG X isn't chartered to do Y, it won't get done there.
c) Yes, the process of building support for Y, and if necessary building support for a Y BOF and forming a Y WG, is complex both technically and sociologically. That's nothing to do with diversity or inclusiveness. It's just hard.
d) Sometimes the IETF has actually taken a strategic decision that precludes Y. I'm not sure what aspects of privacy/encryption Dominique refers to, but there's no doubt that the IETF has long-standing consensuses in those areas and *of course* that would be very hard to change. That doesn't excuse bad interpersonal behaviour, of course.

   Brian Carpenter

On 24-Feb-21 01:46, Bron Gondwana wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2021, at 23:40, Rifaat Shekh-Yusef wrote:
>> So you have never reached out to us to try to bring any work to the WG, and based on attending one meeting and hearing from a few people, you formed a strong opinion and declared that "nothing would get done"? that seems odd.
> Based on a few meetings, and having heard from many people.
>> For your information, last year we published 4 RFCs, and we already have 3 documents with the IESG and more to come.
> That's good to hear.
>> If you have anything you want to bring to the OAuth WG, Hannes and I would be happy to discuss this with you or anyone that wants to bring work to the OAuth WG.
> Thanks.  I don't mean to pick on OAuth specifically, but I also would recommend that you ask around and see whether my view of the culture of the OAuth working group is widely shared within the IETF or whether I've managed to find myself inside a small echo chamber that has a poor opinion of the welcoming-ness of the working group.
> Either way, the fact that the participants of the JMAP working group (including myself) who were all new to the IETF at the time were warned that OAuth is not a place where you can reasonably expect to get your work advanced is an indictment of SOMETHING, and that's worth having a think about in terms of making the IETF a welcoming place.
> Regards,
> Bron.
> --
>   Bron Gondwana, CEO, Fastmail Pty Ltd