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Reducing IETF Meeting Scheduling Conflicts

  • Alexa MorrisIETF Managing Director

1 Apr 2023

With many IETF participants active across a number of active working groups and limited time slots in an IETF meeting week, we aim to arrange sessions in the agenda to minimize conflicts that prevent participants from joining sessions that are of interest to them. In each post-meeting survey we ask meeting participants to comment on the scheduling conflicts they experienced in the meeting agenda and we then use this information to improve the meeting agenda.

When WG chairs request a session for an IETF Meeting, they note what other groups to avoid a scheduling conflict with. Over time, an extensive set of scheduling conflicts to avoid has been collected for use in the meeting agenda planning tool. While this avoids many conflicts, meeting participants often note conflicts in the post-meeting survey that were not included in the original meeting session request submitted by the working group chair.

Following IETF 115 London, we tallied conflicts reported by two or more participants in the post-meeting survey and shared that information directly with each working group chairs for them to review. For the first time, we are sharing the results of that process, including what action, if any, was taken.

It’s important to note that some sessions are harder to deconflict than others. For example, BOFs may appeal to a broad set of participants. Similarly, conflicts related to more general sessions such as dispatch, irtfopen, and iabopen are harder to avoid.

A copy of each session request is sent to the requesting working group, and the requests are also viewable in Datatracker to anyone in the community.  These session requests include the scheduling conflicts to avoid. If you believe that important conflict information is missing from the session request, please raise your concern with the working group chairs, ideally before the meeting. It's more helpful for a chair to understand who is raising which conflicts and why than to see the anonymized survey data after the meeting as that comes without context.

We ask that working group chairs closely review their conflict lists for each session request they make, before each and every IETF meeting. If you have requested your session prior to the BOF submission deadline, we ask that you review the list of approved BOFs and, if you see one that may conflict with your working group, please send a note to support@ietf.org prior to the publication of the preliminary agenda, so that we can update your conflict list.  

If you have any suggestions for how we might improve the scheduling process, please feel free to send them to the Secretariat at support@ietf.org or direct to the IESG at iesg@ietf.org.


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