[comments-review] Comments on consensus and working groups
Comments on consensus and working groups
The relevant text of the report is:
"The comments received during the review process noted that there is a need
to more strongly enforced Working Group mandates, establish stronger
procedures,(39) and establish mechanisms for training Working Group chairs
to focus on a Working Group's mandate.(40)
1. WG-Review approved by majority vote the following specific proposals:
a. "Some form of task force be developed as a training ground in consensus
for ICANN and the DNSO."
b. "NC members and WG chairs should participate in consensus training
before heading a consensus-process group".
c. "A professional consensus-development consultancy should be engaged to
advise on the consensus process."
There is a substantial difference between suggestion (b) and "establish
mechanisms for training Working Group chairs to focus on a Working Group's
mandate." If there is a reason for limiting the training to the specific
issue incorporated in the text, that reason should be addressed. Otherwise,
the specific suggestions should be incorporated.
2. Footnote 40 should be deleted in it's entirety, pending clarification of
the language issues expressed by the initial chair. If the problems occured
because of insufficient time to review and translate material, as seems to
have been suggested, blaming WG-Review for getting off on the wrong foot
becomes a issue of NC sensitivity to multilingual issues and a failure of
NC procedures rather than the chair being off-task. Pending a review of
the published correspondence around this issue, I would suggest that
including this footnote could prove troubling to the task force and NC at a
"For example, an IETF type consensus-building model could be explored.(41)"
According to Kent Crispin, the IETF model was explicitly meant when the
bylaws were created. This sentence is therefore troubling. If Mr Crispin is
correct, the NC seems to be unaware of the nature of the process it's
trying to manage, and loses credibility. If he is incorrect, his
credibility has been damaged, and a report which relies heavily on his
input also loses credibility. Clarification of this situation is therefore
Sound objections to the IETF model were presented in WG-Review, and in any
event, such an example should include at least a minimal discussion of the
issues involved and appropriateness of the model. It should also be noted
in the text that WG-Review found the ICANN bylaws misleading on the meaning
of "consensus", and found that consensus is not possible within the DNSO at
"Recommendation: [Suggestion: [Procedures similar to those of the IETF…
size of working groups? Additionally, use of a smaller group, such as a
task force of limited participants form the DNSO should be explored as an
alternative to the working group structure. Additional reflection on size
of working groups should also occur. For example, should the NC enhance the
level of technical or other expertise employed in the consensus-development
process by limiting the number of people in a WG. Suggestions have included
limiting to three representatives from each constituency.]"
Suggestions to limit participation in order to develop consensus sound like
a contradiction. The results of such limited participation guarantee that
the only type of consensus that may be achieved is of the "last man
standing" variety.The report quite properly notes the danger of assuming
that working groups with a limited perspective are actually the consensus
building process, so it is troubling that the suggestion here would
encourage such groups when created by the NC.