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

Bron Gondwana <brong@fastmailteam.com> Tue, 20 April 2021 10:25 UTC

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Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2021 20:25:12 +1000
From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@fastmailteam.com>
To: ietf@ietf.org
Subject: Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?
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On Tue, Apr 20, 2021, at 01:16, Leif Johansson wrote:
> On 2021-04-19 17:14, Keith Moore wrote:
> > On 4/19/21 11:10 AM, Marc Petit-Huguenin wrote:
> > 
> >> On 4/19/21 8:02 AM, Keith Moore wrote:
> >> That's doable as part of a mentorship.
> > 
> > That way, they can learn to snarl like the rest of us :)
> > 
> > Keith
> > 
> > 
> 
> Or we assign tasks to old-timers so they can learn not to.
> 

A little late to the party but there's no better place to hang this comment.

History is littered with companies and clubs which decided that the right choice was to alienate their existing membership/customer base in order to attract a mythical new market of "grass is always greener" proportions.

Sometimes they're right, and they succeed wildly.  They were indeed stuck in a local maxima and pivoting was the right choice.  Far more often, they fizzed out.  To the point that there's plenty of advice in the business world to try to keep your existing customers satisfied as you evolve.

I think one of the key questions underlying trepidation with plans to reorganise the IETF culture along different philosophical lines are rooted in this question: is there a better maxima we can reach without dying on the way?  Will this pool dry up if we stay here (just to flip the analogy landscape here and make the "maxima" a pool instead)?

In this analogy, I'm considering people who show up and contribute to the IETF as "customers" - we pay in our time and our meeting attendance and our emotional energy to engage in debate.  We receive enough value in terms of something meaningful to us that we continue to attend - many IETFers remaining with the IETF as they change jobs, or even participating on their own recognizance.  That's a serious commitment, and it's held the organisation through meetings stretching back more than 30 years.

Some would say that this conversation has already turned away good participants.  Probably.  The more time we spend introspecting on this, the more damage it will cause.  More than any particular outcome would.  Even the most extreme outcomes of "we commit to do nothing in this area for the next 10 years" and "we have a language police who inspect every draft and censor every microagression" are not worse than killing ourselves through reflexive infighting.

It's this recognition that the current state is worse than any of the likely outcomes which led me to write a draft in the first place.

But if we drive away a bunch of people who currently contribute, or demotivate them sufficiently that they put in minimal effort, then we'd sure better have a happy diverse bunch of folks waiting in the wings with the same level of energy and same level of value received that they would stick with the IETF through changing jobs and of their own volition as volunteers afterwards, or we'll find the new pool even less nourishing than our current one.

Regards,

Bron.

--
  Bron Gondwana, CEO, Fastmail Pty Ltd
  brong@fastmailteam.com