[nc-whois] some questions and remarks
I should probably start with a word of warning: I'm a newbie to this
task force, so, in particular, I don't know what has been spoken and
discussed during earlier telephone conferences. All I know is what
I could gather from the list archives, from e-mail conversations,
from Monday's teleconference, and from the material which was just
Still, some questions and remarks remain, and answers from those who
have been present on this task force for a longer time than myself
would be most appreciated.
1. I don't seem to be able to locate the original set of questions
asked in the survey - the form has disappeared from ICANN's web
site. Is the assumption correct that the survey results distributed
off-list contain the original wording of questions?
2. I don't seem to be able to locate this task force's terms of
reference (maybe I didn't dig deep enough). From Monday's telephone
conference, I seem to understand that the main question we are
trying to answer is: Should the WHOIS service be changed? If so,
how? Additionally, it seems that, thanks to a recent ICANN board
referral to the DNSO, we also have some more explicit questions
concerning bulk access to whois data to answer.
Is this correct?
3. Is the impression correct that no indermediate questions we are
seeking to answer when reading the survey results and responses have
been defined so far?
4. There is what looks like a contradiction between the answers to
q16 and q17 (bulk access; just look at the statistical results).
From Monday's telephone conference, it seems that at least Steve
Metalitz and I have strongly diverging views on how to interpret and
resolve this. Can we please add this point to the agenda of one of
the next telephone conferences, or discuss it on this mailing list?
If this has been discussed before: What's the result?
5. Concerning categories of respondents. For some questions, it may
be a good idea not to break down the answers by the category of
respondent, but by the primary use made of the whois system (in
particular, that's the question of adequacy of the whois system for
respondent's purposes - for instance, "government" respondents may
include system adminsitrators from government research labs as well
as law enforcement). We may wish to look for more specific profiles
("techie", "IP lawyer/law enforcement", "personal home page owner"),
which may turn out to be partially orthogonal to the categories from
In fact, I believe that we have a strong methodological problem with
this survey: We seem to have no distinction whatsoever between
respondents who are answering in their capacity as whois system
users, and between respondents who are answering in their capacity
of being registrants, i.e., those whose data are stored in the
system. There are some questions where it may be apparent in what
capacity people answer, and there are some questions which provide
us with hints on who's answering the survey form. Still, this
doesn't make things a whole lot clearer.
We may wish to discuss if we can formulate some machine-evaluable
criteria for different classes of respondents. For instance,
((is not in categories ISP or registrar-registry) AND
(has registered a domain name) AND
((uses whois never or occasionally) OR
((has registered few domain names) AND
(mainly uses whois to check for availability))))
may be a check used to single out registrants. If we can agree on
such criteria, we may wish to approach ICANN, so they can apply
these criteria to the original set of data (I suppose that the
original data are stored in some SQL database, so this would
probably be a single SELECT statement). I don't believe there's any
value in trying to do this manually, when the data is (somewhere)
present in machine-workable form anyway.
6. Concerning "baskets", I believe we should distinguish two kinds
of "free form questions": (1) multiple choice gone wrong, and (2)
asking for creative writing.
Class (1) certainly covers (some? all?) the "other" responses to
multiple choice questions, q14, the cost issue of q10 (ultimately,
it's either "registrants" or "users of extended search service", so
thi should have been multiple-choice; note, by the way, that the
implementation side of this is entangled with the bulk access
problem in a most interesting way), and others. For this class of
questions, a "basket"-based approach would certainly reasonable.
Class (2), however, is different: This includes the question of what
kind of harm happened to registrants (BTW, the "yes/no" answer texts
given in the material mailed out today are problematic in this case
- after all, whois users may have experienced inaccurate data
without experiencing measurable harm or inconvenience). This
includes most of q20. In fact, I believe that we should be careful
about restricting ourselves to a "basket"-based approach with this
class of questions. It may be a better idea to look for answers we
find surprising or interesting (like Oscar did), and which do not
just confirm what we believe to know from the statistical data).
I'd suggest that we try to collect a finite set of such questions or
ideas, and discuss these by their merits, using the statistical
answers as background for this discussion.
Thus, before we start to agree on baskets, we should most likely try
to agree on what questions we can resaonably access at all using
that kind of approach.
Thomas Roessler http://log.does-not-exist.org/