Goodbye, "Structure:" GNSO Council rejects Lynn's "taxonomy" proposal
Date: Friday May 23 2003, @02:24PM
Topic: gTLDs hoping to enter the legacy root

In December Stuart Lynn asked the Internet community whether the top level name space ought to be made into a taxonomic set of categories. The concept was suggested by a Business/Intellectual Property constituency position paper that proposed that in the future, ALL top-level domain names should be sponsored and restricted and all TLD names part of a rigid, pre-defined set of categories.

That proposal represented what we all hope was the low point of ICANN's mission creep. Somehow, ICANN's management had moved from mere "technical coordinator" of unique DNS parameters, to a role as central planner of the name space, the imposer of an ontology that all the world's internet users had to fit themselves into.

On Thursday, the GNSO Council shot that idea down once and for all.

"In response to the question asked of it by the Board, the GNSO council concludes:

"Expansion of the gTLD namespace should be a bottom-up approach with names proposed by the interested parties to ICANN. Expansion should be demand-driven. Furthermore, there should be a set of objective criteria to be met in any future expansion. The development of this set of objective criteria should be the subject of a new Policy Development Process (PDP). These ideas are expanded in the a report together with the responses of the GNSO Constituencies and the ALAC which will be forwarded to the Board in June."

This response passed unanimously. But driving a stake through the heart of Lynn's top-down name space wasn't easy. You see, the committee charged with developing a response to the question was chaired by...Philip Shepherd, the Business Constituency lifer who is deeply wedded to the idea of a top-down, structured and restrictive name space.

When it became evident that his pet idea had little support, either on the Council or among the broader community, Shepherd fought an exhausting rearguard action. First, he attempted to word the GNSO's response to the question so that support for "structure" could be read into it. The meaning of the word "structure," Shepherd's draft claimed, could be interpreted to mean any conformance to policy objectives, and hence the answer to the Board's question was really "yes", because all Council members had some policies in mind regarding the name space.

Second, he tried to attach to the response a long list of policy recommendations taken from the BC wish list, touching on everything from registry failure to auctions. As numerous members pointed out, this constituted a major policy development process, and were not required by the Board's question. And yet, Shepherd tried to get these policy recommendations developed and passed without any opportunity for public comment.

In a last-ditch attempt to salvage his control over the draft, and aided by a procedurally troublesome intervention from "observer" Louis Touton (who made his support for Shepherd's efforts tacitly clear), a motion to delay the release of the response for another month was made. This would have given Shepherd another month to play language games. That motion was defeated in a very close vote (13-11), with Council Chair Bruce Tonkin of the registrars providing the decisive vote. The vote split on user-supplier grounds, with the Noncommercials acting as the swing vote and siding with the suppliers in favor of an open, demand-driven name space. Once the procedural motion was lost, the opponents threw in the towel and voted unanimously for a clear negative answer to the Board's question about name space structure.

The final resolution was thus a total defeat for the Business/Intellectual Property interests on procedural and substantive grounds. It called for the TLD name space to be expanded through "bottom-up, demand driven" applications; it called for "objective" criteria for selecting applicants rather than discretionary beauty contests; and it clearly stated that the development of any criteria should be left to a policy development process, which will allow public comment, rather than the ad hoc committee of the whole thrown together to answer Lynn's question.

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by PeterBarron ( on Saturday May 24 2003, @01:01AM (#11733)
User #3240 Info |
Bravo. ++Peter
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
say what?
by fnord ( on Saturday May 24 2003, @02:10PM (#11739)
User #2810 Info
This still comes down to who defines the taxonomy, Someone has to. Does one do it at the level of .book or at the level of .literature or at the level of .fiction. One cannot have it all unless one wants the same level of drek that now infests .com et al.

Strangely enough, I do not think it is beyond the range of possibilitie that this is within ICANN's purview. Someone has to do it, one doesn't leave the organization of the yellow pages up to a citizen's committee (not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, but it doesn't happen and the world hasn't spun off its axis). I think it should be ICANN making these decisions, of course I think it should be a properly constituted subcommittee that actually has a clue and that will never happen, but simply leaving it up to market forces doesn't work. What say ICANN OK'd all 46 or whatever applicants at MdR2k, that just amounts to more consumer confusion, read CHAOS. Better that there is some logic behind it, in the same way that .com and .org and .mil used to be a taxonomy until Veri$ign and latterly ICANN got greedy. -g

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Proposal or Question
by RFassett on Saturday May 24 2003, @08:54PM (#11740)
User #3226 Info |
I am not sure that Dr. Lynn's document was a proposal of a taxonomy as much is it was to form a task force to ask this question to, though I will admit Dr. Lynn's document was a bit leading in this regard. But, let's also not forget the concept of parallel processing, originally recommended by the NTEPPTF and an underlying theme to Dr Lynn's document to begin with. So, while all this "new PDP of objective criteria" as proposed by the GNSO council is being figured out (likely to take how many more years rehashing yet again much of what has already been documented), there should be nothing stopping the Board from moving forward with parallel processing (of the sTLD variety).

[ Reply to This | Parent ]

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