[ALAC] Some thoughts on ALS Criteria & Expectations Taskforce

Wolf Ludwig wolf.ludwig at comunica-ch.net
Fri Aug 7 20:43:23 UTC 2015

THANKS Carlton for your thoughts and elaborated points below and (once again) I agree with most of them. These "principles" need to be considered for our further discussions. Please allow me two additional remarks on your deliberations:

- the question of travel "benefits" (or not) is more complex. If such "benefit" is understood in the sense of a compensation, than I think we all agree it's rather poor -- compared to the considerable volunteer's time investment of 3 weeks a year besides some (average) 20 work hours a week. This sort of "self-exploitation" is hardly understood when I talk to friends, colleagues or neighbors but I always reply: "Nobody forced me to do or invest it!", it's my free choice but may be / become a structural problem the same time! How many people (ALS reps) working in non-related professions (besides families) can *afford* such considerable time investments? Those who can do (afford) it are rather privileged but rare. That's IMO a key factor why we have so many "same suspects" and not so much rotation or new blood = people who can (by very personal circumstances) not afford it. For few people who do not invest much time, it may look more like a "benefit" -- but I would prefer anoth!
 er term in this respect like "incentive".

- my second remark is about a 'reviewer' being appointed (your last point). I have some doubts about our last reviewers (I expressively don't name them here). From all the people they interviewed at EURALO in 2008 for the 1st review there was not a trace in their report (and I have heard similar comments from other RALOs at the time). It was my (and others) impression that the interviews had not much background and understanding about *voluntary work and services* -- what should be a pre-condition for an At-Large review IMO. Remembering the people in-charge at ICANN at the time (by avoiding names again), it's still my impression that they finally delivered what they "were asked for". I still have some hope for the next review.

On other aspects or details, I still have more questions than answers ATM.

Kind regards,

Carlton Samuels wrote Fri, 7 Aug 2015 12:55:
>I participated in this morning's call and wanted to level the playing field
>by enunciating some principles and a framework for our discussions.
>Let's start with some principles.
>1) The At-Large is a volunteer-led and fueled organisation and whatever we
>do MUST be informed by unassailable facts we know of voluntary
>organisations plus the psychology of voluntarism.
>2) Individuals make the worthwhile contributions, not organisations.
>3) There is a wide range of motivations for voluntarily contributing and
>these must be fed for sustaining worthwhile contributions
>4) Results matter but volunteer contributions across the board shall always
>be uneven
>So now, the framework for discussions. There are structural issues as well
>as political issues that must be embraced for any viable solution to
>emerge.  The ICANN/RALO MOU is the source of the first
>structurally-generated challenge.
>While it recognizes individuals as the providers of policy advice, it
>locates individual actions in organisations called ALS. And by so doing
>suggests that value be given to the organisation.  Some RALOs, like NARALO,
>have developed rules that recognize individual contributions but have
>shoehorned valuation for contribution into an ALS structure.  I'm not now
>sure what the answer should be but I know what we now have is not fit to
>purpose and objective.
>Another structural issue.  An individual coming to the ICANN policy
>development ecosystem is going to become a worthwhile contributor by virtue
>of mental acumen, penchant for hard work and time in place. Time in place
>is the common criteria for success.  So current arrangements give extra
>value to experienced volunteers.
>At the same time, new blood is required to sustain the flow of worthwhile
>contributors. Here's the thing. Face-to-Face (f2f) ICANN meetings are the
>best platforms to learn and to become familiarized with this complex beast
>called the ICANN ecosystem.
>The effectiveness of a volunteer in policy development is directly related
>to serial opportunity to participate in ICANN f2f meetings.  It is no
>accident that the most impactful groups in ICANN are a) those that get to
>f2f meetings as 'volunteers' engaged in compensated work b) Those who have
>the wherewithal to self-fund attendance at ICANN f2f meetings.
>The task is to develop a framework that strikes a balance which takes into
>account the need for experienced volunteers with capacity to deliver
>worthwhile contributions even as we build capacity in newer
>less-experienced volunteers to sustain the At-Large participation agenda.
>The current funding model for attendance of At-Large volunteers to ICANN
>f2f meetings assist ALAC representatives, liaisons from ALAC to qualified
>SOs/ACs plus named RALO leadership. This construct seemingly presumes a
>direct line of inheritance from RALO leadership thru ALAC representation.
>We know it is a presumption without merit, especially if worthwhile
>contributions to policy discussions is the objective for the At-Large in
>It is always wrong to think of travel funding to ICANN f2f meeting as a
>benefit to a volunteer!  It is not and cannot be!
>ALAC representation compels attending three (3) f2f meetings per annum.
>They are coincident with the ICANN meetings.  In this context, travel
>funding is purely part of the infrastructural cost to fulfill an
>obligation. Otherwise it is like working for a company that has business
>far removed from my place of domicile and expect performance without
>provisioning the tools that enable that performance.
>It rankles me personally when my contributions in both time and treasure to
>the ICANN enterprise is neither accounted or valorized.  Then insult is
>added to my injury when some goof equates a trip sitting in steerage for
>upwards of 17+ hours [the flight time from Chicago to New Delhi] as a
>I travel by air a lot for work; the miles are now counted in millions. In
>the years I sat as an ALAC member + the incumbent Secretariat for LACRALO
>and as a senior staffer at The University of the West Indies, I contributed
>my vacation time of 3 weeks to ICANN for attending f2f meetings. This does
>not count the average 20+ hours per week I normally dedicate to ICANN
>matters. Nor my personal spend of a minimum of US$500 to attend said
>meetings!  These all contribute to ICANN having a real opportunity to
>record it is indeed multi-stakeholder, is fulfilling its AoC obligations
>and has contributions from end user representatives to its policy
>Back in time, I was roundly criticised by some of my At-Large colleagues
>for my position in dealing with so-called ALAC 'tourists'.  This matter
>came to the top in India; LACRALO representatives to ALAC were accused of
>abandoning ALAC business for a tour of Indian tourist sites.  This still
>haunts the At-Large in ICANN circles. My firm stand against any sanctions
>or additional criteria applied for travel support funding was interpreted
>as 'protecting' the members accused from sanctions for inattention to
>duty.  That was never my objective and it still is not the case today. I
>just cannot accept the notion that travel funding is a benefit to the
>volunteer. I shall, on principle, oppose any such notion, howsoever derived
>or configured.
>Finally, in the chat we heard talk of a 'reviewer' being appointed. While
>the roles and responsibilities of such a person/actor is not yet outlined,
>let us be clear to ring fence and give specific instructions as to what we
>are trying to achieve here.  We must recognize from principles that
>volunteers give as much as they can to the cause.  The contributions in
>time and treasure of a Olivier Crepin-Leblond or Cheryl Langdon Orr cannot
>be used as a benchmark for either engagement or indeed, worthwhile
>Carlton A Samuels
>Mobile: 876-818-1799
>*Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround*

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