The features of the current IAAF-proposed system that I unqualifiedly like include:
-That it ties to world championship qualifying. A frequent complaint about "regular season" meets is that there are no stakes so they don't mean anything. This ranking system adds meaning to them--an athlete has incentive to fight for every place to hold onto those bonus points for finishing, say, 4th rather than 5th in the Monaco 1500m.
-The "last 12 months count fully, 12-24 months ago count with a discount" system. Off the top of my head, both golf and triathlon use similar rankings systems which count recent performances more heavily but still allow older performances to count at a discounted rate. It seems to appropriately reward the hot hand while not overly-penalizing established recently-injured athletes.
The features of the current IAAF-proposed system that I like but that I have some reservations about or see room for improvement in include:
-That there have been references to the idea that in order to gain or maintain a certain category of ranking an athlete must be subject to a certain number of anti-doping tests. I haven't seen this idea fully explained, so the devil is in the details, but this is a good and necessary thing. To compete at the top level and be remunerated commensurately, athletes MUST be subject to stringent anti-doping controls.
-That there are minimum numbers of performances required in order to be ranked is a good thing (the current system that allows an athlete to pop a qualifier, know they'll get selected by their federation, and then hole up and train until Worlds isn't good for the sport). If performances from the last 24 months are accepted, though, the minimum numbers are a bit low. 7 for most events, 5 for the 5,000m and steeplechase, and 3 in the 10,000m wouldn't be out of line, and having higher minimums would encourage athletes to compete more. (The flip-side of this would be keeping the minimums, but allowing athletes to score in up to the above-proposed number of competitions and using the above-proposed number as the denominator to calculate the ranking score--so if you're short a competition or two you can still score but are at a severe disadvantage in the rankings.)
-This is a nitpick, but having discount rate done on a sliding scale by percentage for performances more than a year old (like performances in the most-recent 12 months counting 100%, performances 12-15 months ago being discounted 10%, performances 15-18 months ago being discounted 20%, and performances 18 months-24 months ago being discounted 30%) would be better than using a raw number discount. Also, the discount absolutely should not kick in for 12 months, as a performance at an annual meet should not be discounted until that edition of the meet has happened again (I believe the original rules had the discount kicking in after 9 months), and something special will need to be done about meets that only happen every two or four years.
-I'm not sure if this is the current plan or not (but it should be), but if a Federation has a qualifier based on World Ranking (as opposed to an "Automatic Qualifier/Wild Card" . . . more on those below) that spot should be considered to be the Federation's spot, not the athlete's spot, and the Federation should be free to select any athlete ranked in the top certain-number (my gut says top-300, but it may vary per event) in the event in the world with that spot. This would be true for all three of a Federation's spots (assuming the Federation had the maximum three qualifiers).
The features of the current IAAF-proposed system that I dislike include:
-This is kind of a nit-pick, but I don't like the adjustment to the label names. I think you should stick with the established "Gold," "Silver," and "Bronze" labels and then add a "Regional" or "Area" label.
-The above reflects a belief that I share with many others, that the current system may make it difficult for runners to break through into the top levels. I think it is worth it to establish a parallel set of "Regional" or "Area" rankings based on performances in a lower tier of Federation- and/or Area-sanctioned meets/races, and promote a guaranteed number of top performers from the "Regional" or "Area" ranking to the "Bronze" ranking every year.
-The initiation of this rankings system should be used as an opportunity to de-emphasize the Diamond League Final, turning it into something more like an All-Star Game or Tennis's ATP Finals--a celebration of the year's top performers--but making clear that the World Championships/Olympics are the top meet every year. If this isn't done, it's a missed opportunity.
-This rankings system should also be used to phase in a World Championship every year (beginning in 2022, if possible, and 2026 at the latest). Not having a championship one out of every four years leaves the sport without meaningful structure that year, and makes it irrelevant (see the "no stakes" comment, above).
My three largest concerns, in order:
3) there are too many categories and labels for meets. There should be the same categories for meets/races as there are for athletes--"Platinum," "Gold," "Silver," and "Bronze" (with the exception of adding a category above platinum for World Championships and Olympics). Too many different categories of meets/races overly-complicates things and will also assuredly lead to many more better point-scoring opportunities for athletes from certain Federations, Areas, or regions, which will make the system inherently unfair.
2) In Championship meets (World Championships, Area Championships, National Championships, and other special championships like Commonwealths, and World University Games) the bulk of the score should be determined by place, and a bonus should be given by time. A system like granting the winner of top-tier championships a "Base Score" equal to the top time/mark on the previous year's descending order list's score on the IAAF Performance Tables and a bonus of 10% of what their time/mark would be worth on the IAAF Performance Tables, and second-place "Base Score" of 50 points fewer, plus a bonus of 5% of their mark's IAAF Performance Table score, etc, seems right to me. (And doing something similar for second-tier championships like attaching the winner's "Base Score" score to the 11th-best time/mark on last year's descending order list, and third-tier championships to the 31st-best, etc).
1) The new "Automatic Qualifying Standards" for the World Championships and the Olympics aren't being done right. It shouldn't be a moving annual target based on last year's descending order list. It should be used to get the defending champion and this year's absolute hottest hot hands into the event. There should be four "Automatic Qualifiers" per event, period: the defending champion and the top three athletes on the current season's descending order list. All of these athletes should be granted a wild-card entry that would give their country an extra slot in the Championship in the event (capped at four).
That being said, despite my complaints, I believe using these rankings as a qualifying system, as proposed (inasmuch as there has been a specific proposal), is already a step in the right direction. I also believe that this sort of "soft roll-out" of posting the rankings for at least a year before utilizing them and making some adjustments based on stakeholder feedback, is very smart. Getting this right is more important than doing it fast. If that means not implementing it for qualifying purposes until after the 2020 Olympics, so be it.
I have already informally talked about this just a bit (primarily as it relates to road races) with a couple IAAF-affiliated people, but I would happily provide this or any other desired additional feedback through whatever direct mechanism you think is best, as well (possibly that email address listed above). Happy Thanksgiving from this American who clearly has too much time on his hands while avoiding family on the holiday . . .