[wg-review] Comments, second installment...
Here is the second installment of my comments:
Comments for WG-Review
The following are my suggestions for how to make the DNSO more
effective. With very few exceptions, these suggestions do not require
any changes to to the ICANN bylaws, and can be implemented by Names
Council directly. Note that while I am a bit harsh on the Names Council
in this document, I most emphatically do not mean this as a personal
criticism of anyone -- I appreciate very well the difficulties the NC
members have faced in the past two years. Note also that this comment
comes in two parts -- there is a separate document concerning the
functions of Working Groups.
Role of the Names Council
The Bylaws define the role of the NC as "management of the consensus
process". I believe that this is a completely appropriate role,
however, I also believe that the NC is currently doing a terrible job of
fulfilling this role. The fundamental reason for this failure is that
while consensus indeed should come from the bottom up, management needs
to come from the top down. It seems to me that the NC has assumed that
the consensus process will manage itself, but experience clearly shows
that it won't, at least in the context of the DNSO. [This is not to say
that in other environments consensus processes couldn't manage
themselves, of course.]
So my first recommendation is that the NC must be *much* more "hands on"
in the management of the DNSO. This involves more work; some of that
work should be delegated to an expanded secretariat; I also think the NC
should consider the idea of creating an Executive Committee that would
meet more frequently. But individual NC members should take a more
active role, as well.
Much of the extra work for the NC would come from a different approach
towards Working Groups. The chaos of WG-Review is a painful reminder of
WGs past, but I continue to believe that open working groups are
essential for the DNSO, and indeed, as their name implies, need to be
the primary place where work is done. However, the past approach to WGs
has simply not worked very well, and a different approach, it seems to
me, is clearly needed.
In particular, as described in the companion document on Working Groups,
WGs must be seen as one of several tools in the over all processes of
the DNSO, along with committees, task forces, studies, and whatever
other methods the NC decides are necessary to fulfill the mission of the
There are two structural changes that I think should be considered.
First, to the extent that it is reasonable there should be greater
commonality in constituency structures and procedures. For example,
the DNSO web site should have a central page where one can go to find
out about joining a constituency. Constituencies should have a public
presence where queries can be made concerning membership standards and
so on. Internally, there should be common standards about what it
means for a statement to be a "position of a constituency" as opposed
to a statement made by some members of a constituency.
As part of this, I think that measures should be taken to reduce what I
called in another paper the "balkanization" of the constituencies. Any
progress towards achieving consensus is going to require that
constituencies understand each others point of view, and to that end
there should be structures in the DNSO that require cross-constituency
cooperation. I have suggested that there be a formal "observer" system,
where constituencies have "observers" from other constituencies; some of
the secretariat functions could be shared; the GA physical meetings
could be used as commons for the constituencies, and so on.
Second, it seems clear to me that there needs to be some formal
representation of what I will call a "consumer interest constituency"
(to avoid the baggage associated with various names that have come up,
and to avoid any prejudices about "owner" vs "holder" vs "user",
"individual" vs "organization", and so on). Over the years there have
been multiple calls for such a thing, in various guises (some of them
made by me), and the need has not gone away.
However, the inherent problems in such a structure have not gone away,
either, so I don't think that it can just be another constituency. The
problems and conflicts that have come up every time one tries to
organize bottom up suggest that the organization needs to come from the
top down, at least at the start. [It is interesting that one of the
claims that has been made by proponents of an individuals constituency
is that they have had to suffer an unfair burden in organizing bottom
up, because, they claim, the other constituencies were all really
defined top down anyway.]
I have proposed several mechanisms for creating such an organization --
in my comments submitted through the Non Commercial Constituency I
described a scheme by which the GA could be morphed into such a
structure, which has the advantage of gradual and controlled
development; quite some time ago I proposed another approach, which you
can see at http://at-large.org -- the basic idea is that the
constituency would at the start be managed by an *appointed excom*, with
elections following some time after the membership had reached a certain
size and representativeness.
However, there are too many open issues to make a realistic
recommendation on structure at this point. There are many issues that
would have to be considered, including the effects of the creation of
such an entity would have on:
1) the GA (there is clear overlap -- perhaps the GA should be
converted into a general "intake committee" function, expressly for
the purpose of getting proposals the DSNO that otherwise would not
have a home);
2) the BC (in particular w/ respect to very small, individual
businesses); and perhaps
3) the NCC (individuals and consumers are non-commercial in nature;
many of the members of the NCC are there because they believe they
represent consumer interests, not because they have any particular
problems with domain names themselves).
So, as far as a "consumer interest constituency" is concerned, I have
the following concrete recommendations:
1) the Board should mandate that one be created;
2) that the problems that have evidenced themselves require that it be
created as a special case, probably in a top-down and carefully
3) that it not be created until the issues of its interactions with
other structures in the DNSO (GA, BC, and NCC, at least) have been
explored at some length.
Kent Crispin "Be good, and you will be
firstname.lastname@example.org lonesome." -- Mark Twain
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