Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Vittorio Bertola <> Fri, 26 February 2021 11:56 UTC

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Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2021 12:56:27 +0100 (CET)
From: Vittorio Bertola <>
To: Eric Rescorla <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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>     Il 25/02/2021 21:49 Eric Rescorla <> ha scritto:
>     I do think it made it easier for people to get involved, in part because it was easy to offer small changes without subscribing to a list, etc. It certainly made it easier to accept such contributions.
My experience is the exact opposite - there were a number of times in which I wanted to propose text for a document, but then I was pointed at Github, and I am not at ease with it and did not have a lot of time for it. So I gave up or, rather than working on actual text, I just replied on the mailing list making my points and suggestions in a more general way. Unfortunately, this makes your points less likely to be included, since the authors would have to make the effort to write the text for you, or, even if you provide text on the mailing list, the effort to copy and turn it into a pull request.

Some do, some don't; and even if they do, you are placed in the difficult position to ask someone else to do "your" job. Even admitting that you may need help with the tools, in this environment, is a bit scary - it's like admitting in public that you are not "good enough" to participate in the IETF. This gets even worse if you know that your contribution is "diverse" enough for you to expect that some of the regular participants will not receive it well.

In the end, as Lars correctly pointed out, this is a tradeoff. There are instruments that are easier to use for some groups but harder for others. There are instruments that work better with certain types of contributions, and other instruments that work better with other types. So, the choice of instruments is not neutral - it can tilt the balance in participation.

It may indeed be that Github is optimal, maximizing contributions from the people that have more to say. It may also be that it is functional to the preservation of the current leadership and culture of the organization, making it difficult for people with other backgrounds to participate effectively. I do not feel expert enough in the IETF to make a judgement on this, but the issue is clearly there.


Vittorio Bertola | Head of Policy & Innovation, Open-Xchange 
Office @ Via Treviso 12, 10144 Torino, Italy