This is a post that most readers of this blog are going to scratch their heads over. I volunteered a fair amount of my time to ICANN (the organization that works on the domain-name and numbering systems that underpin the Internet). Until yesterday. I got pretty cranky over an email exchange that I (as a working-group member at the bottom of ICANN's bottom-up policy-making process) had with a couple Big Kids on the Council that manages our working-group-based policy-making process. I loudly resigned over this -- here's a link to my grouchy email to the community.
Kieren McCarthy wrote a great article that places my resignation in context and that article kinda went viral in the community yesterday afternoon. A bunch of people have asked me "hey Mikey, what that heck put you up in the high branches like that??" So I've decided to post the email dialog that so got me going. Sorry to those of you regular readers who will be scratching your head over this weird post.
Cast of characters in the tragedy;
Mikey -- that would be me
Tim Ruiz -- one of the people who represents Registrars on the GNSO Council. Tim works for GoDaddy.com, which is by far the largest registrar (essentially the Wal-Mart of domain-name registration outfits). With those two hats, Tim pulls considerable weight in the organization.
Stéphane Van Gelder -- another Registrar representative and also Chair of the GNSO Council. Another heavy hitter.
Mikey: hi all,
i'm just lobbing a suggestion into the "locking during UDRP"-recommendation discussion that's going on in advance of the Council meeting coming up later today. this note is primarily aimed at my Councilors, colleagues in the BC and fellow members of the IRTP-WG, but i've copied a few others just because i can.
as a member of a working group that's wrapping up two years of work on this stuff, i am hoping that the Council will not rewrite our recommendations on its own. this is a repeat of the "i'm trainable" comment i made in SFO. what i'm hoping is that the Council will vote the recommendation up or down and, if it would like, sends the defeated recommendation back to the working group for refinement. you can even include suggestions if you like. but please don't make changes to our recommendations without giving us a chance to participate in the process.
you can invoke all the historic "Council should be *managing* the policy process, not being a legislative body" arguments in this paragraph if you like.
i'm still trainable.
Tim Ruiz: My goal is not to derail the rest of the work over this since that rec was already acted on. The locking question has already been picked up in the UDRP issues report (done in response to the RAP report).
Mikey: yep -- i get that Tim. i'm really zeroed in on the process, though. it would be fine to push it back to the WG with your comment as annotation. this issue is the perfect one to use as a test-case for the very reasons you describe. my worry is that some day we'll get to a tough/complex issue on a WG report and the Council will roar off and try to fix it on the fly rather than pushing it back to the people who've devoted the time to get up to speed on the nuances.
as a WG member i'd much rather hear "hey WG folks, can you fix this?" than "we fixed it for you."
Tim Ruiz: There is nothing for the WG to fix and the Council is not changing any recs. We just want to consider that one with the UDRP issue it is already tied in with. I am all for process, but we can protect that without duplicating efforts.
Mikey: you folks get to do whatever you want to do -- but like i said, i'm trainable. if you as the Council are going to make that call, without engaging the WG in the conversation, you're setting precedents that the Council may come to regret when it is trying to recruit volunteers to devote years of their lives to efforts like that in the future.
all you have to do is ask us, rather than telling us.
Tim Ruiz: Mikey,
My record is pretty clear on process. I defend it fiercly. But you are really blowing this out of proportion. If you are trainable, let it show. Let's discuss further F2F.
Mikey: Tim, i'd much rather have this conversation over a limited-scope test-case issue that's relatively straightforward to resolve than a really hard one.
if working groups are the place where policy gets made, then let the WG fix this minor problem for you rather than fixing it yourselves.
Tim Ruiz: I'd rather not. I've explained it to you. You either don't get it or don't want to. If you want to discuss F2F let me know.
Stéphane Van Gelder: Mikey,
I think the GNSO Council has a clear understanding of its role in the policy development process.
Mikey: yep. and so does this volunteer WG member. i'm now fully trained.
I'm calming down (and was much appreciative of all of you who reached out to help me with that). So I'm clambering down out of the high branches (while sitting in the Tokyo airport transit lounge on the trip home -- not exactly the best place for reflective writing). Thanks all of you who reached out. I'll write you direct notes tomorrow after I'm back in the midwest.