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Re: [wg-d] Robert's Rules
Need we be rigid constructionists?
I might suggest that like all bodies, we adopt the rules as a framework
and then make adjustments for particular cirmstances.
For example, virtually all of your objections can be answered with a bit
of common sense.
We are smart enough to recognize those rules that fit our needs and those
I don't see this as a problem. Rather it is an opportunity to be
something more than blind and dumb beasts.
Robert's Rules are the result of years of evolution. That evolution has
not stopped; we are part of that evolution.
I might also remind everyone that the DNSO and its working groups are not
exclusively e-mail bodies. There will be actual meetings, possibly with
conference calls (in which sequenced discussion is extremely important),
and possibly web-based conferences, possibly all simultaneously.
> 1. A member must obtain the floor and be recognized by the
> presiding officer...
> How do we do that? What does it mean to "obtain the floor" in an
> email context?
Easy, we say that the floor is open to discussion. Just like it is now.
It would be helpful when addressing a motion that we reference the motion.
That isn't rocket science. I suggest that for an example, one look in
e-mail header above.
> 2. The member who made the motion has the first right to speak to
> the motion. He does this by obtaining the floor...
Easy. The person who makes the motion accompanies the motion with text
representing his/her initial statement.
> 3. A member can speak twice to the motion, but the second turn can
> be taken only after everyone who wishes to speak has spoken...
The chair can simply say "wait your turn" to those who don't wait their
Besides, in e-mail people can read stuff in any order they chose
regardless of the order in which it was posted.
> 4. Each member can speak for a fixed time on each turn...
> How do we do this?
That's self enforcing. Long volumes will simply not be read. That's a
fact of e-mail life.
> 6. Speakers must address all remarks to the chair...
> What does this mean in an email context? How do you deal with
Umm, let me consult my cat... He says, to use the word "Co-chair" or
> 8. When speaking to a motion, it is important for the member to first
> let the assembly know which side of the issue he or she is on...in
> controversial issues, the presiding officer should alternate the
> debate between those who are speaking for and those who are speaking
> How do we do this? How does the chair recognize that someone
> wants to speak. Do we all send emails saying "madam chairman, I
> wish to speak to ...", and then wait for the reply saying it is my
> turn to speak?
We've already seen this in action in which our Co-chair has requested
certain submissions from certain participants.
Since we aren't concerned with one speaker's voice making another speaker
hard to hear, the poll/select sequence is not nearly as important as it is
in the context of a meeting in a room.
The chair can indicate when discussion should proceed by poll/select or
> 10. A member can't read, or have the secretary read, from part of a
> manuscript or book, except short, relevant extracts...
Example: "Let me read into the record the entirety of Gibbon's Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire".
It prevents filibustering, record stuffing, and helps prevent excessive
> 11. During debate, a member can't talk against a previous action
> that is not pending, unless one of the motions to *rescind*,
> *reconsider*, or *amend something previously adopted* is pending...
Questions that are settled are not to subject of continued discussion
except in the context of an express motion to revisit it.
> 14-17 etc etc etc
You'll have to cite the text since not all copies use the same numbering.
> Clearly, these rules not only intrude on the discussion -- they
> completely control the discussion, and permeate the entire debate.
> They don't come into effect only when you want to take a vote.
> *Every* utterance is controlled, and is a component of a formal
> process. You don't speak unless the chair recognizes you; only one
> person speaks at a time; there is a strict hierarchy of motions, etc
Yup, it's called "procedure". It is a good thing.