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Matt, I appreciate the concerns you have expressed. I too am concerned by what could be interpreted as the Hi-Jacking of an approved WG by a large group of “outsiders” who had not participated in the earlier Study Group activities. I have heard opinions expressed that these outsiders are only there to impede or prevent the creation of a standard by this working group, an activity which clearly should not be allowed to happen. Perhaps because I tend to be an optimist and take the somewhat Pollyanna view of most situations, I believe that there are better ways to deal with this type of a problem than to try to craft a more restrictive set of rules, which could act to inhibit the openness of the 802 process. I can envision an alternate scenario which could be equally destructive, whereby a group of enthusiastic supporters for a specific approach overloads the attendance at the Study Group phase, and thereby dominates the initial meeting, the election of officers, and sets the group off on a very narrow path that excludes other viable proposals from consideration. Corporate competition is always such that it will try to rear its ugly head in an otherwise free and open process.
But that’s one of the major reasons why we (the SEC) are here: to oversee that the process is open and well-protected from corporate/organizational abuse. I think we have already demonstrated by our actions that we have some concern that there may have been some unsavory activity in what transpired at the March plenary, and that we need to implement some tighter controls in July to ensure that we can truly see what forces if any are at work. So while I share your concerns, I would prefer that we seek other remedies to the potential problems than to restrict the openness of our process. The SEC is perfectly capable of exerting its influence to ensure that abuses are not to be tolerated.
As to your seeing a lack of distinction between the SG to TG transition within a WG, compared with the ECSG to WG transition, I will merely point out that the difference is exactly based on the fact that one is done within the pre-established context of an existing WG, which already has developed a “culture”, officers, rules, and history of precedents that will guide their TGs, and must be conformed with to be a viable TG. Thus a “learning process” should be a mandatory part of gaining membership for the pre-existing WG. By contrast, when forming a new WG, there is no culture, officers, rules, or history to deal with. They will all be developed as the participants build their own culture (probably patterned after some other WGs) but the group is free to choose the patterns which work best for them. To give the preferential treatment of instant membership only to prior Study Group participants, may in fact prevent/delay the actual WG participants from be free to determine their own culture, and allow a minority to dominate the early critical period of the WG history. A brand new WG is a very different context than the a new TG in an existing WG, and we should not try to force them to be the same.
So I thank you for your gentle correction. Really, I should not be second guessing the intent of the creators of this rule. Of course, I don’t have to. I can simply say I disagree with it whatever it was. In my mind recent events have shown that the 1st meeting rule is simply too open to abuse to continue to exist. There has to be a better way. I was going to respond to your comments point by point, but I decided not to in light of recent traffic I received.
Perhaps the membership question is more complex than it sounds. Perhaps we also have to ask what is a Working Group, and what is a Study Group? Ken’s e-mail caught me off guard because it had not occurred to me that a Working Group pre-exists a PAR. Repeating from my response to Ken the SA Standards Board OM reads:
5.2 Project authorization
No formal activity shall take place after six months from the day of the first meeting of the working group
without formal submittal of a PAR to the IEEE-SA Standards Board and assignment of a project number (see
6.1.1 Project Authorization Request (PAR)
As part of the initial PAR procedure, the committee or working group shall appoint a chair (or official
reporter) who shall sign a Copyright Agreement acknowledging that the proposed standard constitutes a
“work made for hire” as defined by the Copyright Act, and that as to any work not so defined, any rights or
interest in the copyright to the standards publication is transferred to the IEEE.
In addition Joanne Wilson of ArrayComm hit me with some side traffic that highlighted the fact that Study Groups exist within Working Groups as well as at the EC level. When a Study Group transitions to a Task Group, there is no membership issue. Members of the SG were already WG members. Only WG members who show up at the first TG meeting get’s to vote in elections. Anyone else who suddenly shows up must first develop membership in the WG to participate. However the decision on where to put a PAR developed by an SG is made by the EC. They could take that same PAR and put it in a new WG. Suddenly, a whole different process is followed, and everyone get’s instant membership just for showing up at the first meeting. Is forming a new Task Group really that different? Why must new TG members first develop WG status while someone walking in for potentially the same task in a new WG gets instant membership? This does not seem right.
So I’m going to get a bit heretical here. The concept of a Sponsor SG does not exist at the SA level. It is an 802 construct that I feel is very useful. Most PAR’s for new work (aside from Maintenance and similar activities) are proceeded by a study group. Most new Working Groups (hope I’m not wrong again) are proceeded by a Study Group. It seems to me that the 802 SG fills the role of the pre-PAR WG. The rules in the SG are different in than in the WG and perhaps more appropriate for a group that suddenly appears out of nothing. I’d rather see all new “WG” transition through a SG phase rather than pop into existence. I’m sure there are aways exceptions, and I suppose the EC should be able to waive WG into existence for those exceptions. But I believe it is better for people to become aquainted with each other and the work at hand before appointing a leader. Having the EC appoint a chair and a little later having elections seems like a better process for me. So I like this concept of a pre-PAR WG being an SG. Perhaps I am way off base, but this is my view at the moment.
So Buzz, how I would respond to each of your points is as follows:
1) Having an SG as a “Pre-Par” WG I think is a better process. I would not think it is easy to make intelligent decisions about your leaders and the proper approach to developing your work without any guidance prior to the first WG meeting. So I think moving slower at the first meeting is better than moving faster (if in fact the group has limited experience with 802).
2) Why is this so much different than the transition of a SG to a TG? If it is people involved are going to change so much, then a Task Group should permit anyone to become a member at their first meeting too. I don’t think this is what we want, and I don’t accept that the membership in the change over from an SG to a WG changes that radically in general. If so, they should be stuck with the same rules as for a SG transitioning to a TG.
3) Agreed. But we still need to guard against abuse as a community. I believe in flexibility. But there is such a thing as too much flexability. We need a balance, and right now I feel that balance is not to base initial membership on the first meeting. I’m not sure why this would be considered more flexible than some other rules.
4) Again, the folks joining a new task group also are developing a new context for a new task. And yet they can live within the requirements of prior establishment of membership. I don’t see why new WG could not live with the same requirement given the existence of a Pre-WG SG.
Talk to you soon,
Matt, Where I sincerely appreciate your attempting to follow the intent of the framers of the Bylaws, I think you may be making a assumptive error in believing that the reason for the start-up rule was one of convenience or oversight, rather than design. My recollection of the intent as discussed and agreed during the drafting of the rule centered on the following primary points:
1. In order to begin the work of the new Working Group, it is necessary to have bona fide members who can elect officers and participate in votes on early substantive matters to help set the course and future direction of activities. Early consensus of the WG participants allows them to move forward expeditiously, and begin to focus on the issues where the real work needs to be done.
2. The make-up and character of those officially committing (by their attendance at the 1st official session) to participate in the work defined by the PAR, as approved, can change dramatically from that of the Study Group participants and that therefore basing membership requirements on prior Study Group participation might very well cause an unfair bias to the early membership and control of the committee that could lead to major problems and power struggles further down the road. Indeed where there has been shown to be a division of a large Group into two or more diametrically opposing factions, the tendency has been to divide the group and let each faction pursue its preferred direction, and let the market and ongoing support determine the eventual winner. One has only to look back at 802’s history to see several cases where serious technology splits lead to several standards, which ultimately failed to win enough market share to survive in the long-term (e.g. 802.4, 802.5, 802.6, 802.9, 802.12, 802.14, and FDDI to name a few).
3. WGs in start-up mode have many problems to deal with and it is the make-up of the actual participant group that will shape the tone and character of the Group. Each 802 WG tends to have its own “culture” and style. What works perfectly for one WG, may be anathema for another. So we have to be willing to allow the actual participant set to establish its own culture & traditions; no “One-Size-Fits-All” set of rules will do the job here. Diversity is the rule, rather than the exception. Our rules need to establish a common framework that is necessary and sufficient to achieve meaningful results, but there must be plenty of latitude to permit the diversity which has made 802 such a rich and productive environment.
4. The intent of the 3-meeting rule is to ensure that those joining an established WG have sufficient time and experience to learn the history, culture and style of the WG before becoming an active participant. However, in the case of a new WG, they will be establishing their culture and style as they go along (under tutelage from other WGs), so there is no need for the learning period. Later-comers, however, will need the time to “catch up” on the history and style of the WG as set by the original participants. The 3-meeting rule was also viewed as a serious deterrent to factions attempting to bring in a horde of supporters to influence the outcome of votes during a single session, since it would require a lot more cost and pre-planning under the rule. So far it seems to be working well in that respect. The fact that our rules allow sufficient latitude that there are occasional disputes over interpretation is a necessary evil to permitting the diversity we want and need. This is one of the primary reasons we need an SEC: to help resolve such disputes on a fair and equitable basis. We just need to be ready to step up when the time arrives.
I recollect no mention of any convenience or bookkeeping factors in selecting the start-up rules. The players get to choose the game and adjust the rules to fit their needs. If there is too great a division of large opposing factions to permit forward progress, then it is better to divide into independent groups that can each move forward independently. Splinter factions tend to find a mainstream camp to join and work with.
I think you at least partially misunderstand my intent in the changes I proposed. Your arguments seem to focus strongly on the officers of the group, and not the general membership. So let me ask you this. Why do we have the “3 session rule” that normally applies to achieving membership? If one meeting is enough for anyone to follow what is going on technically, and understand the procedures in place, why don’t we just let every expert act as a member the moment they walk in the door?
A WG is not a virtual particle popping in and out of a vacuum. On day one, it has a context that it evolved in and is continuing to evolve in. That context is the Study Group it evolved from, and 802 itself. To properly participate even in an election, I believe participants need to have a solid sense of what they are there to do, and how it is normally done. Not to mention some level of familiarity with the candidates. I don’t think one meeting or even one session is enough. And I don’t think the creators of the 3 session rule did either. While the EC may be able to mentor the leadership of a new WG, I don’t think they can effectively mentor the membership itself if it is completely green along with the leadership.
I firmly believe that the creators of the “first meeting” rule chose to let everyone in because it was convenient and easy to do the book keeping. I am sure they saw the potential flaws, but presumed those potentials were generally remote and could be neglected. They probably did not believe these remote possibilities justified the inclusion of a more complex initial membership process. I think we now see that those potentials are larger than may have originally been anticipated. I for one now see a need for a more complex start up process which better preserves the intent of the 3 session rule for gaining membership. So again I ask, in your mind why have the 3 session rule if 3 sessions are not required to participate intelligently in a group?
I vote DISAPPROVE on this ballot.
I believe that including any criterion related to experience with LMSC, its working groups, or study groups as a prerequisite to holding office is a path to constant judgment calls by the SEC as to how much experience is enough, what experience is relevant, and how recent that experience must be. So, must an officer candidate hold a working group office prior to running a study group, in order to be qualified? Which positions? How long?
If we are going to require an experience criterion to be met, I want it to be explicit, concrete, and measurable. It must NOT be subject to interpretation. Given that the current proposed change lacks this specificity:
In 220.127.116.11 delete:
"In no case should a person who is not a member in good standing of IEEE 802 by the end of the first session of establishment of a WG be considered to Chair a WG, as they are unlikely to have sufficient familiarity with the Policies and Procedures of IEEE 802, as well as the IEEE 802 Standards Association (IEEE-SA), and IEEE Computer Society."
and replace it with:
"Candidates for the positions of working group chair and vice chair(s) shall be members of the working group."
I believe that the SEC has the obligation to mentor the officers that are chosen by the working groups. It is the membership of the working group that is best situated to evaluate the qualifications of its leadership. The SEC, at best, is second guessing the working group decisions.
I also don't agree with the substitution of study group participation for credit toward working group membership. This is a hack to try to give preference to study group participants, on the theory that they have more "experience" with 802 by having attended a study group meeting or two and, thus, would make better officers. Or, possibly, this is a misguided attempt to prevent "loading" the membership at the first meeting and electing a slate that is "distasteful" to some constituency. This is unsubstantiated.
The nature of the work of a study group and a working group is fundamentally different. The task of a study group is basically administrative and marketing, to get a PAR and 5 criteria document approved. The task of a working group (at least initially) is mostly technical, evaluating technical proposals and writing a standard. The types and numbers of people that would attend the study group and working group meetings can be expected to be quite different. Why should the working group members have their choices of officer candidates limited to those that chose to perform the administrative and marketing tasks of a study group, when the character of the work changes dramatically at the formation of the working group?
In 18.104.22.168 reverse the deletion of the first sentence of this clause (i.e., put it back). This is clear and concise. The deletion is completely ineffective, since all one has to do at the first meeting is present a letter of intention to participate to the chair, in order to gain instant membership according to the sentence that is proposed to start 22.214.171.124. Also delete the first two sentences in the second paragraph.
Dear EC members,
Attached you will find the text for an LMSC P&P revision ballot on WG Membership. This ballot was approved at the Friday March 14, 2003 plenary session. It is identical to what was presented at the Plenary session except that per the minutes of that meeting I have change the Section number 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52. The purpose and rationale for the ballot are as given in the attached document.
Ballot Opens: March 27, 2003
Ballot Closes: April 28, 2003 11:59 PM
WG chairs, if you haven't already done so, please invite your WG members to comment through you. Buzz, please ensure this gets sent to the "802ALL" email list as well. While I encourage discussion on the reflector, I am trying something new this time, and have included a ballot response / comment form. Prior to the close of the ballot, please fill out the attached form with your vote and a summary of your comments. Then send it to the reflector. I will accept updated forms until the close of the ballot. I’m also open to comments on how this process works. Hopefully this will make it easier for me to compile and distribute comments, and not much more difficult for everyone else. If it doesn’t work, we will fall back to the old process the next round of ballots.
Thanks & Regards,