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Re: [wg-d] Robert's Rules
I share your concern for fairness, but Robert's Rules seem a little too
heavy for WGs. Let me explain.
Working Groups are, more than anything else, drafting committees for
specific issues. Now at the beginning they are highly political, but they
will not be at the end. If we use procedures that are too heavy, we run the
risk of making them useless.
Making anybody who wants to join a WG learn Robert's Rules might be a
little bit too much to ask from them.
Also, Robert's Rules can be used to slow down a process when somebody does
not want anything to happen. Anybody can just ammend aproposal (only needs
somebody to second) and ask for a vote. This can go on forever.
I think that we need to operate on a much simpler scheme. With simple rules.
Until we decide if WGs are open to anybody or they have a balanced
membership from the constituencies and the General Assembly, it might be
too early to decide how they will vote.
We could leave this discussion for a little later, after we discuss if WGs
are open to anybody or do they have a balanced membership?
My opinion on this one is that there should be a balaced membership,
- Members of all constituencies who wish to participate in the WG.
- Members of the General Assembly who wish to participate.
- Experts invited by the Chair(s), assuring that all major points of view
are represented in the WG.
The product of WGs is sent to the Names Council, who recommends policy to
the Board. If the constituencies do not agree with the result, then the
policy will be either not sent or modified. It is much better that the WGs
produce policy that is acceptable to the constituencies, otherwise their
work will be wasted. That is why I think that it is useles to have WGs in
which the constituencies do not have an specific weight.
At 22:48 8/08/99 -0700, Karl Auerbach wrote:
>I've been looking a bit into Robert's Rules and how we would use them.
>I'm only at the start of my inquiry, so I'll have more comments later.
>My initial concern was that I, like many, have come over the years to have
>a fear of such rules. I feared that they are nothing but a
>incomprehensible and mind numbing set of motions, counter motions, points
>of privilege, etc and etc.
>The rules can get complicated if one wants them to be.
>But that's the point, that they don't have to be complicated if one
>doesn't want them to be.
>The basic principle underlying the rules is one of amazing simplicity --
>the chairman puts forth an explicit question to the group and calls for a
>decision. The vote may be by voice, by hands, even by humming. The chair
>measures and announces the result -- sounds a lot like consensus process
>to me -- but there is a tremendous difference.
>The difference is that anyone may, and without insult to the chair,
>require that the chair perform a counted vote. It does not matter,
>whether it be because the issue is a close one, or simply because there
>was some uncertainty caused by noise on a conference call or anything
>The ramifications of this simple step are significant. It means that when
>there is a large scale agreement, i.e. true consensus, the process can
>move very quickly and without anyone feeling left out. But when there
>is a lack of real unaniminity, there is a process through which
>unambiguous decisions can be made without risk of a misconstrued notion of
>consensus and without leaving any latent resentment that the decision was
>The rules do get more complex in that they recognize that there needs to
>be an orderly process for the evolution of a proposal -- a sequence
>through which amendments can be proposed and acted upon -- and a means to
>resume the primary thread.
>I'll have more later as I get deeper into my inquiry, but my initial
>concern has been answered:
>I perceive that the use of the well known procedures, typically called
>"Roberts Rules" need not significantly slow the pace of electronic
>discussions except in situations in which there is a real division of
>opinion. And in those situations, the rules provide a degree of clarity
>and focus that could avoid the subsequent revisiting of the same issue
>over and over again.
>What I am envisioning is a process in which we engage in our normal
>electronic discussions (hopefully politely and without rancor - I can hope
>can't I?). However, when we reach a decision point, the chair can make a
>statement that he/she perceives a consensus (and announces which way the
>perceived consensus runs) or no consensus. In the latter case, the group
>would progress to a vote. In the former case, there would be a period in
>which anyone may object to the perceived consensus, thus also causing the
>group to progress to a vote.
>Voting may be by whatever mechanism and over whatever time period that the
>group has established.
>The certainty provided by the rules does come at some cost -- that of the
>possibility of obstructionism by those who force everything to a full vote
>simply in order to cause delay. But I would suggest that that is a cost
>we ought to be more than willing to pay in order to obtain wide spread
>agreement that the decisions were made fairly and thus need not be