RE: Let's talk (was: DMARC: perspectives from a listadmin of large open-source lists)

"MH Michael Hammer (5304)" <> Wed, 16 April 2014 03:44 UTC

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From: "MH Michael Hammer (5304)" <>
To: S Moonesamy <>, "" <>
Subject: RE: Let's talk (was: DMARC: perspectives from a listadmin of large open-source lists)
Thread-Topic: Let's talk (was: DMARC: perspectives from a listadmin of large open-source lists)
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Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:44:45 +0000
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: S Moonesamy []
> Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:36 PM
> To: MH Michael Hammer (5304);
> Subject: Let's talk (was: DMARC: perspectives from a listadmin of large open-
> source lists)
> Hi Mike,
> At 13:30 15-04-2014, MH Michael Hammer (5304) wrote:
> >My experience with regard to working groups is that it is
> >(technically) easy to participate and does not necessarily involve any
> >particular costs. I don't go to IETF meetings but have participated in
> >WG sessions during IETF meetings through jabber. Not the optimal
> >solution but it works. I think that the notion of 8000lb gorillas
> >somewhat misrepresents the situation. Some of the active participants
> >in the working groups I've been involved with continue their
> >involvement even when they change employers. With that in mind, I
> >believe that in many cases it truly is the individual and not the
> >individual as mouthpiece for the organization. I also believe that the
> >8000lb gorillas have many of the same interests as smaller
> >organizations and individuals even though there are times where
> >interests may diverge. It's also clear to me that there is not
> >uniformity of interests across constituencies within large
> >organizations. It's complex. So let's talk.
> It is, as you mentioned, complex.  I'll be one-sided in this comment.  There is
> a cost to participation on the mailing lists and to attend meetings.  There is a
> higher burden for a small company or an individual.  People from small
> companies sometimes get ignored or it is like the minority view (see Dave
> Cridland's message at
> archive/web/ietf/current/msg87389.html ).

I think this conflates two different issues:

1) Cost to participation. While I may work for a larger organization, much if not most of my participation is in addition to my other work obligations. I know of other folks in a similar situation. I participated before I worked at a large organization, I participated when I had my own small business and I may choose to participate in the future if my circumstances change. There are other people whose occupation consists solely of standards work. I don't have any meaningful answer to your comment. Quite frankly, I'm asking myself why I should personally continue to engage with the IETF process at all. It's not as if my employer is demanding it. Do I really want to be engaging with IETF after a 16 hour day working on other stuff? It must be masochism.

2) Getting ignored or minority view. I don't believe it is simply a function of company size - at least for the WGs I've participated in. I'd assert that at least in the email/email auth WGs it's more a function of long term participants, many of whom have calcified positions (across the spectrum). I can think of at least one person from a relatively large company who gets ignored a fair bit, so size is not necessarily a factor. I've been in the minority view on various issues in the WGs I've participated in. That's life - I chose Betamax. To a certain extent it's also a function of who is wrangling the WG and how they manage the WG. I don't really think about whether a person is with a large company, a small company or an individual - I'm more interested in the quality and practicality of their ideas. I'm more of a security and operations guy and that colors my perspective.

I'm not sure if you are looking for a response to Dave Cridland's message in the context of DMARC specifically. As I noted when I first posted to this group, I don't speak on behalf of DMARC and my comments are on a personal basis. When DMARC came along, as a sender I only had to publish a p=reject policy. We (my employer) had done the heavy lifting in terms of changing our mailing practices back in 2007 before there was a or a spec. I had some concerns about a wide open WG but wasn't necessarily against it. My concerns were more along the line of how much of a grind it might be on a personal basis (after my experiences with other WGs). I do recognize that others made a significant investment in implementing running code to make things work. I think a lot of people underestimate what was involved and overly discount concerns about radical modifications to the spec. When I did my original effort in 2007 it was a five month project involving quite a few people to change how our websites handled mail to accommodate strong authentication for SPF and DKIM. I'll also point out that the interoperability event for DKIM didn't take place until 2008 which meant I was somewhat going out on a limb. I'm sure that for others to do their DMARC implementations on the mailbox provider side several years later it was a larger effort than what I went through. My personal belief is that nobody was looking to get an IETF rubber stamp. Perhaps the concerns might have been communicated differently and perhaps there might have been a little less skepticism as to intent.

So on to the mail list issue. On one level I want to say not my issue. I don't publish p=reject for any domains with users that send to mail lists so as I've said, my ox isn't getting gored. There were plenty of discussions in the DKIM working group about 1st party signatures vs 3rd party signatures and trust and reputation and who should do what and who wouldn't do what. At the end of the day the can was kicked down the road. So here we are. I don't have any answers for this group. I've already stated in a previous post how I think it will play out. I'm leaning towards just walking away and spending cycles on something as that is more productive from my perspective. The juice just isn't worth the squeeze.

> I can understand that an individual is not the mouthpiece of the organization
> if that individual sometimes speaks up to say that management is saying X
> but he or she does not think that it is a great idea.  You have tried to be
> positive by discussing about this publicly, politely and without resorting to
> marketing language.  Let's see who else would like to talk.

I don't think you are likely to see someone speaking up in that particular way. "My boss has bad ideas" posted to a public forum is not a career enhancing move even if phrased politely. Those sorts of issues would likely get resolved internally or the person would likely choose to move to another roost if it is a significant issue. That's just common sense. At least for me, in the WGs I've participated in, I've had a lot of latitude because the issues are technical and it is more me keeping management apprised of what is happening and what I'm doing than me getting directives. I can't speak for others or other organizations. I don't have anything to sell or market so I have no reason to use marketing language. My goal is to protect end users from maliciousness that tries to leverage our domains and brands - things like SPF, DKIM and DMARC help do that in conjunction with other efforts such as takedowns, blocking, prosecutions, etc. I also get involved in other anti-abuse efforts that have nothing to do with my employer - because I believe it is the right thing to do. Standards are just one piece of the puzzle.

It's been a long day and I've rambled on more than enough.