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Re: [wg-d] Overview
>> > 4.6 Real-Time Work
>> > Why should they be governed by Robertīs Rules? To my understanding Robert
>> > Rules is something so complicated that only a few poeple in the US know
>> > them properly. And they are completely unknown to the rest of the world.
>> > Why must we then adopt something that complicated? Canīt we find any
>> > simpler way of working?
>> Just to recap and pose a new question...
>> There was a fair amount of discussion of Robert's Rule early in our
>> dialogue here. Although some proponents wanted to port Robert's Rules to
>> the online world in its entirety, most of the pro-RR comments seemed to be
>> asking for some simple way of making and seconding motions, moving
>> discussions to a close, and polling members on what they favored. Mark
>> Langston made a pass through RR and listed several kinds of motions that
>> would help our online discussions. That's what you now see in draft 1: a
>> very, very light version of Robert's Rules.
>> For live meetings, it seemed natural to put Robert's Rules into place in
>> toto, because it was relatively well known (for rules of parliamentary
>> procedure) and was the standard that ICANN itself had adopted for its
>> meetings and those of the DNSO Names Council.
>> In reviewing the draft ICANN Bylaw changes now out for public comment,
>> however, I note that ICANN proposes to delete the language (Article V,
>> Section 24) that adopted Robert's Rules. The staff comment reads: "ROBERTS
>> RULES LANGUAGE DELETED; EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THIS WAS A BAD IDEA THAT
>> SHOULD BE DISCARDED."
>> See, http://www.icann.org/general/bylaws-amend-redline-8oct99.htm
>> Eva and Jon seem to share that sentiment.
>> ICANN has not proposed any new language on how meetings should be
>> governed. If we too drop Robert's Rules for live meetings, is there a
>> better alternative to put in its place? In the absence of a better
>> alternative, I think you're at the discretion of the Co-Chairs. Is that
>> acceptable? Or is Robert's Rules better than nothing?
Here's my (not unbiased) opinion on this:
The big reason ICANN wants to do away with RR in live meetings is because
a) nobody has taken the time to understand even the rudimentary bits of
pariamentary procedure, either as embodied by RR, or in general,
b) They have not bothered to implement it properly (e.g., with a
parliamentarian; this is a person that should be present at all live
c) Their lack of understanding has been a public embarassment to them,
d) They do not see the value in a formal rule system, even though their
current processes cry out for one.
I believe a) and c) are the biggest reasons. Nobody can be bothered to
learn even the simplest rules of order, and would rather just, to quote
Esther, "get on with it".
What many seem to miss is that "getting on with it" is exactly what's
causing all the uproar in the first place. True, the live meetings can
end up in various shades of disarray when people don't understand RR.
However, that will change with practice, and it buys one very clear,
very undeniable thing: The observers and participants have a clear
guideline for what should and should not happen. Period. With all the
furor over how group X should do this, and how group Y should do that,
and why did group Z do the other, what's been missing is something that
explains all of that. To the observers, to the participants, and to
whomsoever wishes to have oversight to the process. The current
activities of the DNSO and the ICANN BoD have been as opaque as
possible. One of the things that parliamentary procedure brings is
clarity; clarity of process and clarity of appropriateness. With
a formal ruleset in place, there can be no question as to whether
X should be done at time Y -- it's dictated by the ruleset. There's
no doubt whether Z was an appropriate action -- it's dictated by the
ruleset. And if there *is* question as to whether it was appropriate,
the ruleset has clear-cut procedures for challenging and possibly
All of this is missing right now.
Now, to "chair discretion": As long as chairs are appointed, and not
democratically elected (and by democratic, I am not implying the current
DNSO election process), this should not be allowed. ICANN is supposed to
be a "bottom-up" organization. Chair discretion with appointed chairs
is entirely top-down, and extremely unbalanced.
Make no mistake: ICANN in general, and the DNSO in particular, are
very political groups, with opposing camps at every turn. Rules and
guidelines designed for groups that share a common goal simply will not
work in this setting. Every time it's been tried, it's failed, and added
to the growing unease with ICANN. The press latched onto the problems
with, and ultimate halting of, the DNSO BoD seat elections. That entire
fiasco occurred because of procedure, or lack thereof.
How many more times must we travel this road before we begin to realize
that procedure MUST come first? This isn't a test-run. This is the
real thing; it's something that we should be getting right the first
time. And the only way to do that is to make VERY sure that a good set
of procedures is in place BEFORE substantive decisions are made.
Honestly, I'm weary of those who don't want to learn what is, in essence,
a simple set of rules because it's too much work. Which would you
prefer, a little work up front, or a lot of spin-doctoring ex post
Of course, that's just my opinion. I'm sure those used to closed-door
meetings and "go-along, get-along" policies will rip into me now.
I'm sorry if I seem a bit bitter, but sometimes I really believe I'm
shouting down a well.
Mark C. Langston
San Jose, CA