ICANN Meetings sTLDs hoping to enter legacy root
Process Matters
posted by michael on Saturday December 03 2005, @07:16AM

I get so tired of ICANN participants who say that worrying about process is fine, but let's just solve this particular substantive problem I care about first and tend to the process stuff later. How many times must an engineer's short-term focus on outcomes produce bad results before ICANN participants admit that systemic process failure is at the heart of what is wrong with ICANN -- and it has been right from the start. Make good processes and they push you in the direction of good decisions; even when they don't result in good decisions, good processes help justify and legitimate them -- and breed respect, even forgiveness.

So here's the very latest process outrage:

We all know that ICANN spends a small fortune commissioning outside consultants to review TLD applications (makes you wonder what the large fortune spent on the staff is good for). I had thought the consultants were, like so many consultants, housebroken, and just gave the advice the client wanted to hear. That's how it so often works in the world. But here's the amazing thing: not all the consultants were totally housebroken after all. Sometimes the consultants gave advice the staff didn't like. They didn't want to reward all the insiders all the time. But when ICANN doesn't like the consultants' advice, it blithely ignores them, as it did in .travel. Since all important ICANN Board meetings are secret, no one ever knew, until the news slipped out in Vancouver.

Meanwhile ICANN has ratched up the secrecy one more level: it has secret press conferences. ICANNWatch.org has asked repeatedly to be on the ICANN press mailing list, but we don't get notice of them. (We did for a short period; then it stopped.) Nor either do working journalists present at ICANN's meetings if ICANN thinks them unfriendly. Even dictatorships and, in the day, communist countries were more open than that.

Read all the details, and more about the continuing total failure to embrace any sort of process decency, much less process values, in Edward Hasbrouck's blog entry. Mr. Hasbrouck has been waiting for a hearing on his Independent Review Panel (IRP) request for many months. The ICANN staff has been stalling and stalling ("lost" his emails; were "under the impression" -- for no reason other than wishful thinking -- he'd abandoned his claim). It all has the look of cover-up, and the consultant's report likely was part of what was being hidden.

Note that if the report had been public, ICANN would have avoided making a bad decision. It might also have earned a little respect for hiring outside experts with a little backbone. Now, instead, it looks again like honest advice is the last thing ICANN wants to hear...

Process matters.

'A View From Vancouver' | XXX Controversy Signals Major Change in ICANN  >

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  Related Links  
· ICANNWatch.org
· when ICANN doesn't like the consultants' advice, it blithely ignores them, as it did in .travel
· Edward Hasbrouck's blog
· More ICANN Meetings stories
· Also by michael
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What else is new...
by GeorgeK on Saturday December 03 2005, @08:43AM (#16559)
User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
ICANN's Board ignored a super-majority consensus against WLS in the GNSO. They've shown repeatedly that they're out of touch with the community they purport to represent.

We'll see what happens with the ICANN-VeriSign proposed settlement. I think I can safely say that the opposition against that is even higher than that against WLS.

If ICANN wants legitimacy, they have to do what the broader community supports. For example, when they pressured VeriSign to shut down SiteFinder, the community cheered (although, it took them a few weeks to do it). When prices for domains went down from $35/yr to $6/yr, that was regarded as a victory, too.

Is it a surprise, then, that when ICANN wants to undo the above victories, through a bad settlement proposal with VeriSign, that the community is outraged? ICANN's staff/board wants a $50 million+ annual budget (listen to the MP3 recordings by Bret, that statement is in there somewhere -- maybe someone can create a new recording with just that part), and they're willing to sell out the broader community to do it. $50 million/yr makes ICANN a white elephant....actual 2001-2001 expenses [icann.org] were more like $4 million (excluding special projects like new TLDs, which made it $6 million). From $4 million/yr to $50 million/yr in only a few years --- that shows ICANN's disconnect with reality!
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