Re: [RAI] RAI processes for handling work effectively

Harald Alvestrand <> Thu, 18 July 2013 11:57 UTC

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Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2013 13:57:14 +0200
From: Harald Alvestrand <>
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Subject: Re: [RAI] RAI processes for handling work effectively
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let me make a radical proposition....

Standing working groups are useless. All of them.

What we have been doing in the IETF for 10+ years is to create things 
that we call working groups, which sometimes are used as places to do 
work, but really are places where people go to get a review and a stamp 
of approval.

This isn't the role of a working group. It's a review panel.

Working groups need a task they can complete. They need chairs that are 
willing and able to get the hard questions asked, get a decision out, 
Review panels need to have competent people on them, and they need to be 
able to say NO at need.

The drivers for these 2 kinds of activity are orthogonal-to-opposed, 
they are not aligned.
And by using WG procedures for both kinds, we are doing a disservice to 

I'd suggest that among the requirements for a working group to be formed 
- AND for it to continue to exist - there should be:

- A definition of the problem that needs solving
- A definition of the work that needs to be done
- A sign that one can look at in order to tell that it's finished

(Picking on MMUSIC not because it's the only one, but because I'm 
working in it at the moment)

In contrast, the MMUSIC working group includes statements like "Various 
extensions to SDP will be pursued to remedy the most urgent of SDP's 
shortcomings". How do we tell that we'll achieve that?

To my mind, SCTP-in-SDP could have been a working group. Once there are 
two working implementations that can successfully negotiate SCTP, its 
work is done and can shut down.

Trickle ICE could have been another. The day we have 2 implementations 
interworking - done.

Both need to have competent review and input from people who are aware 
of the architectural issues of SDP, and the people who provide that 
input need to talk to each other so that each reviewer is in sync with 
the others.

But that isn't the role of a WG. It's a review panel.