Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 16:24:49 -0500
From: Rob Austein <>
Subject: Faith and Practice of the IETF

Several recent conversations have drawn my attention to the extent to which my own perception of the IETF's decision making process has been influenced by the practices of another group that uses a similar decision process. It would be difficult to translate that group's practices into input suitable for the IETF, but given that the other group has running code which they've been debugging for more than 300 years, I'm tempted to try.

A few excerpts which seem especially relevant to certain behavior patterns that we've been seeing on some IETF mailing lists:


Quaker Business Meetings: how Friends make decisions

An introduction to the way in which the Society of Friends runs "meetings for business" (discussions of secular matters). Includes fair amount of practical advice, at least some of which strikes me as relevant to some of the problems facing the IETF.

Yes, this description mentions religion occasionally. Sorry if that bothers anybody, it's a side effect of the beliefs which motivate Friends to use this decision process. I've yet to find any purely secular written descriptions of their decision process.

How many Quakers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Worth reading for giggle value even if the rest of this strikes one as utter hogwash.