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Re: [wg-d] WG Principles
On Tue, Aug 03, 1999 at 11:01:09AM -0700, Karl Auerbach wrote:
> My proposal: Rather than using the IETF process in which working group
> output is reviewed by increasingly smaller bodies, we ought to be adopting
> a process in which working group output is reviewed, re-evaluated, and
> explicitly re-accepted by increasingly larger bodies.
Do you propose a final global plebiscite on every issue?
> DNSO working groups ought to have the ability to form on their own, be
> chartered, or otherwise come to exist. There ought to be no particular
> barriers to working group formation.
I agree with this, but the devil is in the details...
> These working groups ought to be able to come up with proposals that they
> submit to the DNSO GA. (Indeed, any individual should also be able to
> submit a proposal, working groups need not have the sole perogative to
> make proposals.)
You can do that now -- submit a proposal to the GA list.
> The DNSO GA should have the ability to take a proposal and rewrite it
> fully and adopt its own rewrite without ever sending it back to any
> working group if it feels that that is the right thing to do.
It already has that ability. Of course, there is the little matter
of how you actually *organize* the GA to write proposals -- the
conventional answer is that a WG is formed...but apparently you want
to create yet another organizational structure embedded in the GA...
> And the NC, since its job is to "coordinate" ought to simply watch and do
> nothing more than "coordinate". And that means, if the GA adopts a
> proposal, the NC merely "coordinates" the transfer of that proposal to the
> ICANN board.
Whatever that means.
> Now back to IETF processes...
> > and a significant proportion of drafts go back for wg changes after iesg
> > review.
> As you say, the drafts can only be "rejected" and sent back.
A meaningless distinction. A rejection with comments on how it
should be improved is effectively a rewrite. The IESG isn't just
playing the "rock game". (*)
>>> But the IETF has no mechanism through which the body as a whole reviews
>>> the working group output and accepts/rejects/modifies it.
>> it is referred to as ietf last call and is a mandatory part of the formal
>> process. any person can, given issues of substance, stop a document in its
>> tracks. and it is not uncommon that this happens.
> Last call is merely a statement that "unless you object the document goes
> Last call is not a vehicle through which the IETF as a whole expresses
> approval, only that those who have objections can make a last complaint.
That is precisely the mechanism of expressing approval. "If there
are no objections, the motion is passed."
> In other words, the IETF never "accepts", it only has the ability to
> propose objections, which may or may not be ignorred.
> There is no IETF mechanism by which a working group document is put up to
> the whole body and the question asked: "Do you accept this?" or even "Do
> you reject this?"
This is a meaningless word game. The whole body participates, to
precisely the extent there is interest.
> That lack of need to have an explicit broad based acceptance of a proposal
> might work in technical areas, but it is a bad idea for these soft policy
A devastating argument, not.
>>> Soft policy, as we have here, requires that working groups be merely a
>>> source of formulations of ideas. But unlike the IETF, we ought not to
>>> allow the working group to be effectively the final arbiter of those
>>> ideas, but rather require that those ideas be deeply reviewed and subject
>>> to full acceptance by larger bodies.
>> i do not disagree with this, except for your (in my opinion) mis-statement
>> of how the ietf works.
> I don't think we are disagreeing, but simply describing the same
> mechanism. We have not disagreed that the fundamental premise of IETF
> working groups is that they produce documents which are not subject to
> revision or a clear acceptance by the IETF as a whole. Rather, I think we
> are both agreeing that the IETF working groups produce documents, that are
> reviewed by a small body, and sometimes sent back to the WG for changes,
> and that an opportunity is allowed for people to object, but that there is
> no overall up/down decision (or opportunity to alter the document) by the
> entire IETF community.
I certainly don't have the experience in the IETF that Randy does,
but from my experience, your characterization is so badly skewed as
to be devoid of useful guidance.
In particular, IETF WGs are *completely open* to anyone who wants to
participate (**). Therefore, it is a reasonable presumption that
anyone who has an opinion on a particular issue has had ample
opportunity to comment by the time last call is reached.
>>> In other words, we ought to reverse the presumptions from the IETF's
>>> presumption that WG output will result in a standard if not shown
>>> erroneous to a presumption the WG output is merely a topic for the GA
>>> consider, amend, or reject as the GA sees fit.
>> i am not sure i fully agree with this. in this model, there would be no
>> need for wgs, merely random collections of drafters. i suspect a reasonable
>> point lies in the middle, the wgs having a strong pen, but the nc and ga
>> having strong review.
> Working groups always will have a strong pen -- people who write and "do"
> generally end up having a stronger ability to get their ideas down than
> those who sit silently.
> I do not like the word "review" as that implies simple acceptance or
> rejection and sending it back to the working group.
> Rather, the DNSO GA should have the ability to take a working group
> proposal and rewrite it fully and adopt its own rewrite without ever
> sending it back to a working group if it feels that that is the right
> thing to do.
What process are you going to use to do that rewriting? Well you got
to get the interested people together to draft a document. Say --
that sounds a lot like a ... WORKING GROUP. Well, we already have
It is precisely this kind of ad hoc off the cuff thinking that causes
me to strongly support the IETF model. I am certainly not claiming
that the IETF model is perfect for our purposes, or that there
shouldn't be modifications. But the fact is that we are talking
about "rough consensus" based decision processes using email and
other online means for tools -- we are not talking about parliament.
The IETF has been doing this for a long time, and they have lots of
real, rubber-meets-the-road experience with how to do this kind of
(*) The "rock" game: "Bring me a rock". "Here's a rock". "It
isn't what I wanted. Bring me another rock."
(**) I do, however, agree that the DNSO WGs do not live up to IETF
standards. I believe that DNSO WGs should be just as open as IETF
WGs. But a completely open and fluid membership of a WG has
implications for decision processes, as well.
In particular, votes have a lot less significance, since anyone can
stack a vote at any time. The evaluation of consensus that goes on
in an IETF WG also implicitly includes an assessment of the level of
understanding of the issues. That is, in the ideal a vote of a total
informed electorate would be best, but there is no way to evaluate
It has been suggested that you can prevent vote stacking by
"freezing" the membership at some point in time. But that implicitly
excludes people -- a negative factor that must be intelligently
These and other reasons dictate that a WG cannot be considered as a
representative body. It is true that the bylaws call for a member of
each constituency to participate in a WG, but that is a vastly
different from claiming that a WG consensus is representative of
anything more than a WG consensus. If you make such claims you are
subject to being held hostage by non-participation. Therefore, it
is far wiser to simply acknowledge up front that WGs are not
representative bodies; that they produce their best cut at generally
applicable policies, but those policies are, fundamentally, nothing
more than the opinion of that particular WG.
Kent Crispin "Do good, and you'll be
email@example.com lonesome." -- Mark Twain