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First annual IETF community survey

  • Jay DaleyIETF Executive Director

6 May 2021

The IETF is launching its first annual IETF community survey.

To help better understand our community and its makeup, gather views on the IETF and how well it works for participants, and gain insight into how we compare to similar organisations, we are launching our first annual IETF community survey. The request to participate will be sent directly to the ~56,000 email addresses subscribed to at least one IETF mailing list. 

The survey has 32 questions spread across 5 sections and we estimate that it will take about six minutes to complete.  All of the questions except one are optional and the survey is anonymous with no client metadata (e.g. your IP address) collected. 

The questions and survey format were developed by the IETF LLC on behalf of the IESG and in collaboration with the IAB:

  • Demographics. This goes into more depth than we have asked before in our meeting surveys, as we want to better understand the makeup of our community.  All the questions except one, “Do you participate in the IETF?” are optional.
  • Participation. Here, we ask about how much time participants put into the IETF, what motivates them and their level of engagement.  For those that no longer participate or have never actively participated, we have some different questions to help understand why that is.
  • Preferences. We then ask a couple of short questions about how people prefer to participate, provide feedback and be communicated with.
  • Perceptions. This is the most detailed part of the survey.  Here, we ask how true you think a wide variety of statements are about the IETF, about your experience in participating, and what you think of the Working Groups you participate in.
  • Comparisons. Finally, we ask some brief questions about what other standards organisations and related efforts you participate in and how we compare to them.

One thing to note is that there are no free text questions in this survey.  We are hoping to receive thousands of responses, and analyzing such an amount of free-form text would be challenging.  IETF participants are always welcome the IETF Executive Director or the IESG with any detailed feedback they may have

To distribute this survey, we took all ~56,000 email addresses subscribed to our mailing lists, removed duplicates from the use of the ‘+’ suffix notation, and silently subscribed the addresses to a new announcement-only list, ietf-surveys@ietf.org.  We chose to distribute the survey this way rather than via existing lists to avoid sending people multiple copies of the same email.  We decided not to use ietf-announce@ietf.org, because that has less than 4,000 subscribers and so would not reach the entire community.  When the survey is closed, everyone will be silently unsubscribed from the ietf-survey list.  For those wondering about the GDPR implications of this, we took legal advice and we are fully complying with the applicable laws.

As with all of our surveys, we will publish the full results in an interactive dashboard that will be publicly available.  We will also distill the key findings into a report.  Over time, we will reference the survey as we respond to the findings.

If you haven't received an email invitation you can respond to the survey here.


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