[ALAC] Bikeshedding [was Re: Open Public Comment Proceedings]

Alan Greenberg alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Sat Sep 2 18:04:45 UTC 2017

Evan, as you say, it is responsibility of staff 
to alert us to available comments, we should only 
reply if we think there is merit. To a large 
extent, I think we are doing a reasonable job, 
although there is still room for improvement. 
These days, we rarely issue an ALAC comment just 
because one person has a personal stake or view 
on the issue, and we less often issue a "rah-rah great job" comments.

During the review, it was suggested that we have 
"standards" and although we implicitly have 
imposed some, perhaps it is time to put them into 
words. Things that come to mind are:

- Is there a significant impact on users?
- Is there a significant impact on ICANN as a viable organization?
- Do we have something to say that should or may alter the outcomes?

Your reference to the Re-opened PDP on Red Cross 
names is worth a comment. Although I will not 
necessarily attribute the same causes to it as 
you do, we do have various parties arguing the 
fine (and not so fine) points of international 
accords and local laws. I don't recall if you 
were on the call where I intervened (I think the 
2nd one). Someone, perhaps the Chair had said 
that we must establish policy in accordance with 
the applicable laws. I said (perhaps in only 
slightly different words) that this was hogwash 
(for non-English speakers 

Much of the gTLD policy that ICANN sets is a 
compromise based on special interests. Rarely is 
"law involved" and although we should not set 
policy that is clearly illegal, the basis in law 
is almost never considered (if it were we would 
be more sensitive to privacy issues).

The answer was: true, but the GNSO Council will 
want to verify that we have good reason for 
making recommendations. I didn't bother 
answering, and although I am not known for being 
quiet on ICANN calls, I have not been very active since.

SO yes, we need to pick our battles, and to a 
large extent, I think we are getting reasonably good at it.


At 02/09/2017 12:19 PM, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
>On 2 September 2017 at 09:05, 
><<mailto:h.raiche at internode.on.net>h.raiche at internode.on.net> wrote:
>I've had a look at all three, and am not sure 
>they are of real importance to ALAC
>​Holly is exactly right.
>At-Large has a scarcity of volunteer resources 
>­-- notably in those who have the time, skills 
>and background necessary to analyze such matters 
>and write cogent, relevant responses.​
>While it is wholly appropriate of staff to 
>ensure that we don't accidentally miss anything, 
>it is also incumbent upon At-Large (and 
>especially its leadership) to show the 
>discipline necessary to ignore that minutiae and 
>concentrate on the larger picture of how ICANN 
>actions impact end-users globally. We have not 
>always succeeded in this discipline.
>In fact, yesterday a software developer friend 
>of mine introduced me to a term I hadn't heard 
>before, that IMO well describes ALAC's historic 
>tendency to get caught up in the flurry of 
>responding to ICANN's trivia and losing sight of 
>the real bylaw-mandated purpose we are here to 
>serve: <http://communitymgt.wikia.com/wiki/Bikeshedding>bikeshedding.
>Right now I am involved in a GNSO working group 
>in which domain industry representatives are 
>insisting to pore over every word of the Geneva 
>Convention to determine whether the Red Cross 
>has the right to ask that its names not be in 
>the pool of domains for sale in gTLDs. At least 
>from an end-user standpoint this is absolutely 
>absurd; we don't need this kind of time wastage 
>for At-Large to tell the Board and community of 
>ICANN that enabling commercial (ab)use of Red 
>Cross/Crescent/Diamond/etc domain names is morally repugnant.
>Many other examples exist in At-Large. It most 
>reliably emerges any time the phrase "public interest" is invoked in our midst.
>Industry advocates paid to divert stakeholders 
>from the big picture have created an ICANN 
>process designed to distract and waste resources 
>from those of us without the financial incentive or means to keep up.
>This is bikeshedding by design. Resist.
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