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From: IAB Chair
Date: January 28, 2009 9:54:11 AM GMT+02:00
Subject: [IAB] IAB Response to an Appeal from J-F C. Morfin dd 29 September 2008

IAB Response to an Appeal from J-F C. Morfin.

On 29 November 2008 the IAB received an appeal from J-F C. Morfin,
related to an earlier appeal from Mr Morfin to the IESG that the IESG
rejected on 29 September 2008.

Mr Morfin’s appeal includes significant background material, as well as
details of the original appeal to the IESG. In the section “Matter of the
appeal”, Mr Morfin appears to accept the IESG’s decision in this specific
case, and raises a number of points related to it.

The IAB understands the relevant points to be these:

1. The IETF should be watching out for the good of the Internet, and when
something comes up in that regard — particularly related to
interoperability — it should supersede the charter of a Working Group or
a decision of a WG chair or an Area Director.

2. Challenges to Working Group deliverables on interoperability grounds
should never be considered off topic.

3. Some documents should have a “Precaution Considerations” section that
discusses what precautions have been taken to “preserve present and future
interoperabilities as well as users’ requests”.

There does not appear to be anything in the IESG’s response to Mr
Morfin’s original appeal that Mr Morfin is directly contesting. Further,
the IAB, in reviewing that appeal, finds the IESG’s response to be
correct. Therefore, the IAB’s direct response to this appeal is to
support the IESG’s earlier decision.

Beyond that, the IAB considered Mr Morfin’s points:

The IAB considered Mr Morfin’s allegation that IETF participants are
unconcerned with the needs of end users, and found this allegation to be
baseless and without merit. To the contrary, the needs of Internet users
are very important to the IETF, to ensure the relevance of its output, and
that importance is reflected in IETF processes and practice. The role of
the IETF is to provide a venue for individuals working on networking
hardware or software (whether commercial or free) to get together and
agree on how those networking devices should interoperate to everyone’s
mutual benefit. That benefit would not be well served by ignoring the
needs of users, and producing output that no one wants.

The IAB considered Mr Morfin’s allegation that IETF participants are
insufficiently concerned with interoperability problems that may result
from their work, and found this allegation to be baseless and without
merit. Challenges to the quality and interoperability prospects of
Working Group deliverables are taken seriously and are generally
considered to be in scope when they are first raised. Once decisions are
made — usually by rough consensus — raising the same issues repeatedly
is not accepted. This is correct: the Working Group must make progress in
its work, rather than spend its time revisiting old issues when there’s
nothing new added. In fact, in the case that prompted this appeal, Mr
Morfin agrees that the upholding of the Working Group chair’s decision was

The IAB considered Mr Morfin’s allegation that IETF participants are
unconcerned with supporting multilingual text and the needs of
non-English-speaking network users around the world, and found this
allegation to be baseless and without merit. IETF participants are
actively working in areas related to multilingual text, enabling more
multilingual use of the Internet. As to multilingual participation in the
IETF: any organization doing the sort of work that the IETF does must have
a lingua franca in which to work. Most engineering and scientific
organizations use English as that language, and it seems best for the IETF
to do so as well. It is our judgment that IETF participants generally do
make a strong effort to understand those whose written or spoken English
skills are imperfect. Being a worldwide organization, the IETF welcomes
engineering contributions from individuals everywhere, both from native
English speakers and from those for whom English is not the first

The IAB considered Mr Morfin’s allegation that end users are “banned”
from IETF participation, and found this allegation to be baseless and
without merit. The IETF is open to anyone who has access to email and
makes the effort to participate and contribute, and the IETF welcomes and
actively encourages participation from any individual who wishes to
contribute in good faith.

The IAB notes that making a worthwhile contribution does take effort.
Showing up unprepared and espousing uninformed opinions takes little
effort, but such behavior rarely amounts to a useful contribution.
Similarly, repeatedly raising the same issues or pursuing a specific
agenda that differs from that of the Working Group disrupts progress. To
safeguard against such disruptive behavior, the IETF has procedures,
outlined in RFC 3683, for banning a disruptive individual from posting to
Working Group mailing lists, but this is uncommon, and has only happened
twice since RFC 3683 was published in March 2004.

For the IAB,

–Olaf Kolkman,
IAB Chair.