On Consensus and Humming in the IETF (RFC7282)
Original Publication Date: 2014-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2014-Jun-24
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
Almost every IETF participant knows the aphorism from Dave Clark's 1992 plenary presentation [Clark] regarding how we make decisions in the IETF:
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) P. Resnick Request for Comments: 7282 Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Category: Informational June 2014 ISSN: 2070-1721
On Consensus and Humming in the IETF
The IETF has had a long tradition of doing its technical work through a consensus process, taking into account the different views among IETF participants and coming to (at least rough) consensus on technical matters. In particular, the IETF is supposed not to be run by a "majority rule" philosophy. This is why we engage in rituals like "humming" instead of voting. However, more and more of our actions are now indistinguishable from voting, and quite often we are letting the majority win the day without consideration of minority concerns. This document explains some features of rough consensus, what is not rough consensus, how we have gotten away from it, how we might think about it differently, and the things we can do in order to really achieve rough consensus.
Note: This document is quite consciously being put forward as Informational. It does not propose to change any IETF processes and is therefore not a BCP. It is simply a collection of principles, hopefully around which the IETF can come to (at least rough) consensus.
Status of This Memo
This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is published for informational purposes.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has received public review and has been approved for publication by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Not all documents approved by the IESG are a candidate for any level of Internet Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.
Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7282.
Resnick Informational [Page 1]
RFC 7282 On Consensus June 2014
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