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[ga] Working groups / drafting documents / straw polls

Please note that this is my final posting in the current working 
group thread, and on the issue of open, on-list straw polls.  (See 
below for details.)

First of all: Working groups.  All I can do is to re-iterate what I 
have said before numerous times: If and when I believe that 
something can be gained by moving discussions off the GA's main list 
onto some sublist (possibly a newly-created on), I'll support this.

Currently, I don't see any actual benefits, and don't support moving 
the discussion to a special-purpose list.  (The benefits which have 
been listed are mostly theoretical.)

Further procedural discussion of this is pointless.

However, please don't get me wrong: I do support the idea of 
producing a GA consensus document on the deletion issue.

For such a document to be produced, consensus must exist. Currently, 
I don't see it - beyond (as I wrote earlier) a general perception 
that the actual WLS proposal is "bad" (but even that's not shared by 
all - and no, I'm not talking about Snapnames and Verisign).

Now, unlike what Abel suggests, the chair is not the wizard with the 
magic consensus spell.  I can't produce consensus on the list: Only 
you can.  All of you - by discussion, and by persuading each other. 
You'll most likely have to give up some positions on the way.

Until we have such consensus, all which can reasonably be done is to 
document what kinds of arguments have been exchanged so far.  That's 
why I wrote in an earlier message that the best I can currently do 
on this topic is to continue writing summaries.

You are certainly free to disagree with my interpretation of the 
current discussion.  You are also free (and encouraged!) to write 
down what you believe should be the consensus of this general 
assembly - maybe others agree and give up some of their positions. 
That's why I asked Abel to write down what he considers consensus 
points, and that's why I highly welcome Ross Rader's forward of the 
registrars' requirement list on deleted domain handling.  I'd also 
welcome similar input from other constituencies.

Please note that such drafting is not automatically the chair's job: 
In fact, on a working group, a very small set of individuals (two or 
three, not necessarily including the chair) would be the drafting 
group, and would be responsible for actually developping documents.

The same can be done on this list, and I'd really like to see some 
of those as a drafting group who are currently demanding a working 
group so loudly.

To put it into different words: What I've been proposing, and 
continue to propose, is that, for the time being, the GA itself goes 
into working group mode.

Now, a word on straw polls: In their current form, they are a waste 
of the list readers' bandwidth and of your own posting quota. They 
are certainly _not_ binding votes of the GA.  They are, for these 
reasons, a very bad idea.

Please stop them.

If you absolutely have to do a straw poll (which will ALWAYS be 
non-binding, as opposed to a formal GA vote), do it like this:

 - Make sure that the topic under discussion is appropriate for a 
   straw poll.  In particular, anything for which, traditionally, the 
   GA voting registry is used, is not appropriate.

 - Make sure that the choices you give are appropriate, precise, and 
   non-manipulative.  For the purpose of a straw poll on creating a 
   FUBAR working group, the opposite of "I want this working group 
   now" should certainly NOT be: "Opposed to any sort of working 
   group however constituted", but "I don't want that this working 
   group is created now".

   Give people an opportunity to comment on the questions before you 
   start taking votes.  Make sure that your straw-poll is the only 
   one on the particular subject running at a time.

   Note that manipulative straw polls always bear the risk of being 

 - Give a time frame for the straw poll.

 - Collect answers via private, off-list e-mail.  (This one's 
   particularly important.)

 - Publish a short and readable summary after the time frame set for 
   the straw poll is over.  In this summary, include a full record of 
   who (include e-mail addresses!) voted how, so participants can 
   verify that their votes were counted correctly, and others can 
   challenge individual votes when they don't believe that someone 
   really participated.

 - Make sure that the conditions under which the straw poll happens 
   are known to participants.

That way, you avoid straw poll posting clutter on the list.

If you have a straw poll which follows the above guidelines, and is 
not just abuse of everyone's time and bandwidth, you can also send 
it to me so I post it with a "GA chair" rubber stamp.

(And, no, I'm not going to post a "ga-wg-deletes" straw poll.)

Thomas Roessler                        http://log.does-not-exist.org/
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