On Consensus and Humming in the IETF

The information below is for an old version of the document
Document Type None Internet-Draft (individual in gen area)
Last updated 2013-10-23 (latest revision 2013-10-04)
Stream IETF
Intended RFC status Informational
Expired & archived
pdf htmlized bibtex
Additional URLs
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd None
IESG IESG state Unknown state
Consensus Boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date
Responsible AD Jari Arkko
Send notices to presnick@qti.qualcomm.com, draft-resnick-on-consensus@tools.ietf.org

This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


The IETF has had a long tradition of doing its technical work through a consensus process, taking into account the different views among IETF participants and coming to (at least rough) consensus on technical matters. In particular, the IETF is supposed not to be run by a "majority rule" philosophy. This is why we engage in rituals like "humming" instead of voting. However, more and more of our actions are now indistinguishable from voting, and quite often we are letting the majority win the day, without consideration of minority concerns. This document is a collection of thoughts on what rough consensus is, how we have gotten away from it, and the things we can do in order to really achieve rough consensus. Note (to be removed before publication): This document is quite consciously being put forward as Informational. It does not propose to change any IETF processes and is therefore not a BCP. It is simply a collection of principles, hopefully around which the IETF can come to (at least rough) consensus.


Pete Resnick (presnick@qti.qualcomm.com)

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)