[rgchairs] Re: 63rd IETF Agenda - DRAFT

Jeffrey Hutzelman <jhutz@cmu.edu> Wed, 13 July 2005 05:22 UTC

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Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 23:22:38 -0400
From: Jeffrey Hutzelman <jhutz@cmu.edu>
To: Thierry Ernst <ernst@sfc.wide.ad.jp>, Brian E Carpenter <brc@zurich.ibm.com>
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Subject: [rgchairs] Re: 63rd IETF Agenda - DRAFT
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On Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:49:53 AM +0900 Thierry Ernst 
<ernst@sfc.wide.ad.jp> wrote:

> It's notorious that people try to arrange their flight in advance in
> order to get cheaper prices,

There's nothing wrong with doing this.  The dates and locations of IETF 
meetings (if not always the exact hotel) are announced well in advance. 
The problem arises when people want to buy tickets far in advance to get 
the cheaper price _and_ tailor their trip so they are there only for one or 
two sessions.  The two just aren't compatible, and making them compatible 
would probably require pushing the whole scheduling process so far out that 
many WG's wouldn't know whether they need to meet or how much time they 

It seems we have this discussion about three times a year, usually on the 
main IETF list, and the arguments rarely change.  You can consult the 
archives to see how the discussion generally goes, or I can summarize for 

A: Please don't schedule me in <time X>; I'll only be there on <day Y>
B: We can't schedule meetings around people's flights; you should plan
   on being there for the entire week of the meeting.
A: But I only want to be there for my meeting, can't you schedule things
   earlier so that I can just fly in for my timeslot?
B: We don't want people to only show up for their one meeting; we want
   them to stick around, attend other sessions, talk to people, etc.
   One big strength of the IETF is bringing together people from a wide
   variety of backgrounds and specialties, and we want to encourage that.
A: But lots of people don't have the budget to stay for a week, or can't
   afford the time away, or their employer won't send them.  Aren't we
   excluding these people?
B: Yes, but what else can we do without fragmenting the IETF into lots
   of little isolated groups.  Besides, scheduling is complicated and
   time-consuming already, making a final agenda early enough would be
   too hard.
A: But you should try, because it would be really useful to me.
B: Lots of WG's won't know that far in advance whether they need to meet
   or how much time they need.  And we don't care about helping people
   who aren't going to contribute outside their one WG.
A: You just want everyone to be forced to come the whole week, and don't
   care that you're screwing the people who can't do that!
B: You don't really care about the IETF, you just want to do whatever
   the hell you feel like doing.
A: You're a fascist!
B: You're an anarchist!
A: You're a Nazi! (*)
X: OK, so much for that thread, time to move on.

At this point, the discussion turns to an equally stimulating topic such as 
whether the IESG has too much power or why last week's major process change 
hasn't yet resulting in either a dramatic improvement in the time it takes 
to go form first-draft to full Standard or the complete implosion of the 
IETF, the Internet, the Universe, or all three.

Seriously folks, a couple of key points:
- We are in the middle of an experiment related to changing the timeline
  for meeting scheduling.  We only do this three times a year, so it is
  far too soon to have enough data to draw conclusions.  Give it some time.

- The process of scheduling an IETF meeting is really hard -- much harder
  than your average conference with several "tracks" of related talks.
  There are a huge number of constraints, a limited number of rooms and
  timeslots; there's not much time in which to get the job done, and
  whatever the outcome, someone will be unhappy.  By all means, point out
  any conflicts you see, and ask for changes you think might help.  But be
  prepared to accept that some conflicts are unavoidable, and some changes
  simply cause too many problems.

- Marcia and the other folks at the IETF Secretariat who work on this
  generally do a fabulous job making it all work out.
  Please cut them some slack.

-- Jeff

* see <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law>

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