[cabfpub] Ballot process

Tim Hollebeek THollebeek at trustwave.com
Thu Nov 3 00:43:52 UTC 2016

In many cases, whether a ballot will succeed or fail depends on whether it is acceptable to browsers, and so a "straw poll" that only includes CAs is in my opinion not very useful.

I think supporters of the "straw poll" optimization need to be careful not to use the word "vote" in discussions, because that means something specific for the bylaws.  Every time someone makes that mistake, we end up on a tangent.  Similarly, opponents of "straw polls" need to understand that there is nothing in the bylaws that prohibit them.  I could post a message to the public list asking for a straw poll about the results of a baseball game, for example, without violating the bylaws.

There are legitimate concerns whether participation in straw polls would be adequate, and whether a non-binding straw poll will provide sufficient information about what the final outcome might be.  My personal opinion is that people will probably behave themselves in order to return the forum to its previous level of dysfunctionality, but that might be the optimist in me.  Yes, I am optimistic we can aspire to be dysfunctional in the near future!  Call me a dreamer.

We can even define them better in the bylaws for clarity.  I think the understanding is that the question is something like "Given your current understanding of the ballot, if no IPR concerns are discovered, are you inclined to vote for or against it?"  Given adequate disclaimers about the fact that any participant can change their mind at any time for any reason (which is impossible to outlaw anyway), I can't see much harm in having straw polls.  And they do have the potential to reduce the need for IP discovery searches for ballots that have no chance of passing anyway.

If a ballot has sufficient unofficial support, we can start the official process that may result in eventual passage.  Hopefully we might even adopt a few more ballots before Earth spirals into the Sun.

Did I mention I was an optimist?


From: Public <public-bounces at cabforum.org> on behalf of Peter Bowen via Public <public at cabforum.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 6:54:27 PM
To: CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List
Cc: Peter Bowen
Subject: [cabfpub] Ballot process

This might be an insane idea, and would require a bylaw modification, but what about splitting the timing of the votes?

We could restructure the process such that CAs vote, then there is an IP review period, then the CAs vote to adopt after the review period?  That way we avoid the voting twice or “straw poll” aspect of the proposed process but we also have a reasonable assurance that we aren’t doing IPR reviews for things that are just fishing expeditions.

This allows the process to operate similar to the W3C (and IETF) multi-tier approval system.  The CAs would vote to determine if they approve.  Assuming they do, they direct the chair to initiate the Review Period of the Draft Guideline.  Upon close of the review period, the Browsers then vote to approve or reject the Draft Guideline and turn it into a Final Guideline or Final Maintenance Guideline if approved.

I propose that Browsers go second, as we clearly call out that the Guidelines are not operable unless incorporated by Browsers into their program requirements.  Additionally we know that browsers can add requirements and carve out exceptions, so their approval is the key requirement for final implementation.

I do realize this probably requires a bylaw change, but I think it may be worth doing.


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