[NA-Discuss] "Rough Consensus"

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Sat Sep 25 07:47:36 UTC 2010

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your comments on the Draft proposal for revising the NARALO
Operating Principles<https://st.icann.org/alac-docs/index.cgi?na_2007_1_1rev1_draft_naralo_operating_principles>.
I'd like to address the issue you raised,

The one thing I find worrisome, though, is this use of "rough consensus".
> Since I cannot think of a better process right now, I will simply ask if
> there is a precedent for this in ICANN and, if so, how was it defined.
As far as I can tell, "rough consensus" has been used in quite a few of the
ICANN working groups in which I've participated. First used by the IEFT,
"rough consensus" has been a term used to reflect when the collective
opinion of a group is overwhelmingly -- but not unanimously -- in favour or
opposed to a particular point. While "full consensus" -- unanimity -- is
desired, it isn't always possible. In these cases, "Rough consensus" is used
to reflect the decision-making sense of the group even though some minimal
opposition may exist.

Rough consensus has been the decision-making standard in NARALO since its
inception, though in the vast majority of situations we have achieved
unanimity after ensuring that the points of view of all participants have
been taken into account. Using this process in our meetings -- as opposed to
having formal votes -- has saved us substantial amounts of time in our
decision-making process. This in turn has allowed us to react quickly at
times when speed has been a factor in being properly heard. Still, we also
have formal procedures in place -- some of which are part of the proposed
changes -- to have formal votes on important issues such as elections.
Although we have not yet had serious (and un-reconcilable) divergence of
opinion on any specific issue or motion, we must be ready with a formal
voting process should this happen.

As always, the preference is for full consensus. Rough consensus (which I
personally would consider to be less than 10% opposition) is usable but far
less desirable than unanimity. If there is greater divergence than that on
an issue and if such divergence is impossible to reconcile, a formal vote
would be called for. That's at least my interpretation as Chair.

I hope this addresses your concerns. This process is indeed used elsewhere
within ICANN; a Google search for "ICANN 'rough consensus' " produces more
than 7,000 hits.

Please don't hesitate to let me know if you still consider our use of this
technique "worrisome". I hope you will vote to support the new bylaw

- Evan

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