Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com> Thu, 25 February 2021 20:44 UTC

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Subject: Re: Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
To: S Moonesamy <sm+ietf@elandsys.com>, Rifaat Shekh-Yusef <rifaat.s.ietf@gmail.com>, ietf@ietf.org
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From: Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>
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Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2021 09:44:28 +1300
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On 25-Feb-21 19:13, S Moonesamy wrote:
> Hi Rifaat,
> At 04:40 AM 23-02-2021, 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.
> 
> I suggest looking at it from a different perspective.  A person who 
> is new to the IETF attends a working group session held at some 
> exotic location.  There are the usual active participants debating 
> during the session.  There isn't any significant progress on the 
> issue(s) in his/her opinion.  Would he/she commit more time to engage 
> in that working group?

That is not a simple question with a simple answer. If the person (or
their employer) has a strong interest in the topic, they will invest
the time to follow the email discussions, understand what is going on
behind the apparent lack of progress, and decide how best to engage in
and influence the conversation. Anybody with much experience in complex
debates (whether or not in SDOs) will already know that things take
time (months or years). If the person has casual interest, they may 
decide to leave the topic alone and check back a year later. Any 
choice between those two extremes is possible, depending on the case.
I've certainly chosen many points on that scale during my time
at the IETF (and the Global Grid Forum when it existed, and minor
engagements with other SDOs).

Certainly, if one is not patient, persistent and open to argument,
one will not succeed in the IETF, but that is nothing to do
with diversity and inclusiveness. How we (those already here)
treat newcomers is of course important, but that is a quite
different question from the one you asked.

We already advise newcomers to watch the discussion for a while
before contributing [1]. Perhaps that advice should be strengthened.

Regards
    Brian

[1] https://www.ietf.org/about/participate/get-started/starting/