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[council] Managing working groups

  • To: "Council GNSO" <council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [council] Managing working groups
  • From: "Bruce Tonkin" <Bruce.Tonkin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 18:49:43 +1000
  • Sender: owner-council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Thread-index: Acd834QJyfg5MMk8Q76dnxbuzaJa8Q==
  • Thread-topic: Managing working groups

Hello All,

I recommend that all read the following document, particularly those
involved in chairing working groups:

It is RFC2418 IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures - dated Sept

From: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2418.txt

It has sections dealing with disruptive behaviour as well as determining
when rough consensus is reached.

"As with face-to-face sessions occasionally one or more individuals
   may engage in behavior on a mailing list which disrupts the WG's
   progress.  In these cases the Chair should attempt to discourage the
   behavior by communication directly with the offending individual
   rather than on the open mailing list.  If the behavior persists then
   the Chair must involve the Area Director in the issue.  As a last
   resort and after explicit warnings, the Area Director, with the
   approval of the IESG, may request that the mailing list maintainer
   block the ability of the offending individual to post to the mailing
   list. (If the mailing list software permits this type of operation.)
   Even if this is done, the individual must not be prevented from
   receiving messages posted to the list.  Other methods of mailing list
   control may be considered but must be approved by the AD(s) and the

"3.3. Session management

   Working groups make decisions through a "rough consensus" process.
   IETF consensus does not require that all participants agree although
   this is, of course, preferred.  In general, the dominant view of the
   working group shall prevail.  (However, it must be noted that
   "dominance" is not to be determined on the basis of volume or
   persistence, but rather a more general sense of agreement.) Consensus
   can be determined by a show of hands, humming, or any other means on
   which the WG agrees (by rough consensus, of course).  Note that 51%
   of the working group does not qualify as "rough consensus" and 99% is
   better than rough.  It is up to the Chair to determine if rough
   consensus has been reached.

   It can be particularly challenging to gauge the level of consensus on
   a mailing list.  There are two different cases where a working group
   may be trying to understand the level of consensus via a mailing list
   discussion. But in both cases the volume of messages on a topic is
   not, by itself, a good indicator of consensus since one or two
   individuals may be generating much of the traffic.

   In the case where a consensus which has been reached during a face-
   to-face meeting is being verified on a mailing list the people who
   were in the meeting and expressed agreement must be taken into
   account.  If there were 100 people in a meeting and only a few people
   on the mailing list disagree with the consensus of the meeting then
   the consensus should be seen as being verified.  Note that enough
   time should be given to the verification process for the mailing list
   readers to understand and consider any objections that may be raised
   on the list.  The normal two week last-call period should be
   sufficient for this.

   The other case is where the discussion has been held entirely over
   the mailing list.  The determination of the level of consensus may be
   harder to do in this case since most people subscribed to mailing
   lists do not actively participate in discussions on the list. It is
   left to the discretion of the working group chair how to evaluate the
   level of consensus.  The most common method used is for the working
   group chair to state what he or she believes to be the consensus view
   and. at the same time, requests comments from the list about the
   stated conclusion.

   The challenge to managing working group sessions is to balance the
   need for open and fair consideration of the issues against the need
   to make forward progress.  The working group, as a whole, has the
   final responsibility for striking this balance.  The Chair has the
   responsibility for overseeing the process but may delegate direct
   process management to a formally-designated Facilitator.

   It is occasionally appropriate to revisit a topic, to re-evaluate
   alternatives or to improve the group's understanding of a relevant
   decision.  However, unnecessary repeated discussions on issues can be
   avoided if the Chair makes sure that the main arguments in the
   discussion (and the outcome) are summarized and archived after a
   discussion has come to conclusion. It is also good practice to note
   important decisions/consensus reached by email in the minutes of the
   next 'live' session, and to summarize briefly the decision-making
   history in the final documents the WG produces.

   To facilitate making forward progress, a Working Group Chair may wish
   to decide to reject or defer the input from a member, based upon the
   following criteria:

   The input pertains to a topic that already has been resolved and is
   redundant with information previously available;

   The input is new and pertains to a topic that has already been
   resolved, but it is felt to be of minor import to the existing

   The input pertains to a topic that the working group has not yet
   opened for discussion; or

   The input is outside of the scope of the working group charter."

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