Minutes of the
User Services Open Area Meeting
IETF - Minneapolis, MN - March 1999
Recorded by April Marine.
The User Services Area held its first open area meeting in Minneapolis. This was an experiment to see whether having such a meeting would cause people who were somewhat curious about the Area to attend and, if so, to elicit their points of view as new people on USV topics.
The experiment worked to a limited degree. It did attract some new people, but as a whole it was sparsely attended. The "regulars" in the USV area know that the USWG working group, which always meets on Monday, acts as the umbrella overview group for the area. However, it is difficult to conclude whether the limited attendance was due to limited interest or competition with the other meetings.
The meeting started with April Marine, the USV Area Director, giving an overview of the Area, its goals and current activities. Goals of the USV can be found on its web page, which is linked to from the IETF Working Group web pages at http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/wg-dir.html. In a nutshell, the USV:
- provides an international forum for people interested in all levels of users services
- identified methods to improve the quality of information available to Internet users
- initiates projects designed to assist individuals and organizations that support Internet users, and
- maintains the FYI subseries of RFCs
She then provided an look at what the current working groups and BOFs are, and what the relevant drafts were. The chairs of the WEIRD and FYIUP BOFs provided a quick introduction to what those meetings would try to accomplish.
After that overview, the meeting was thrown open for discussion. In particular, feedback was requested on whether this type of activity was what people expected, and what suggestions they might have for the Area to address.
Some suggestions made were:
- The area should represent the end-user perspective in ongoing protocol development work. This was an interesting point because that is considered one of the goals of USV, but was not captured in the goals statements!
- The area should notice and document problems users are having and provide feedback to the developers. Some of the examples given related more to user interface issues than underlying protocols, such as how the function of many icons is not intuitive and that icons can be difficult just to see for some people.
- The area could survey users to find what works and what doesn't and what problems are common. (presumably in a certain topic area)
- The area could collect "war stories" of mistakes and document them.
- The area could capture how IETF Working Groups interact. (This falls under the WEIRD area, actually.)
- The area could document privacy issues, such as use of transparent proxies. (The WREC working group has put privacy issues out of scope for them.)
Some of these suggestions are a bit vague, which was interesting in itself. The chair (AKA the Area Director) concluded that it looked like the WEIRD group would address those items of initial concern that are repeatedly mentioned. Other working groups were addressing some of the other points, so the WEIRD web pages that might provide some WG overview would be useful. The chair felt that the Area was not overlooking any large holes, but that the meeting might not have had enough people to conclude that totally.
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