[NA-Discuss] Bottom Up Action Procedure

ebw at abenaki.wabanaki.net ebw at abenaki.wabanaki.net
Wed Aug 24 22:12:02 UTC 2011

Colleagues, in this I only address the decision making form questions,
as I see them. What happens after the regional organization has made a
decision is not addressed here.

Two issues, if not a third, are present in this exchange.

There are two mechanisms for decision making, voting, by participants with
standing to vote, and consensus, again, by participants with standing to
participate in a consensus call.

First, for which questions is which mechanism determined? 

Second, is access to the mailing list alone sufficient to establish standing
for either?

The latent third issue is assuming that the answer to the second is in the
negative, does advocacy by actors lacking standing, presented as such, or
presented as some other form of social interaction, but delivered
undifferentiated from those having standing, have a substantial possibility
of affecting consensus outcomes? 

My personal experience, after three decades of decision making by consensus
in the IETF, and earlier in AFSC organized organizations, is that the body
on occasion determines the outcomes. To give an example, at IETFs 50 and 51
a small group of engineers from CNNIC presented a proposal to the IDN WG to
fix a known problem in the Unicode table for Chinese. An "intermediate table".
There was not consensus that a problem existed, and therefore that the fix
should be adopted. A globally incorrect engineering decision was made by a
locally correct cost-benefit analysis -- few if any of the contributors to
the IDN WG were native Chinese language literate.

A "vote" would have recorded what even "rough consensus" obscures, that of
the votes for intermediate tables, all of the voters were professionally
engaged in the deliver of Han script characters to Han script users, and
that of the votes against intermediate tables, none of the voters were so

Incidently, and simply as an item of historical trivia, I was, along with
Erik Huizer and Dave Crocker, an engaged contributor to the POISSON WG,
which authored RFC 2418, and which Scott Bradner was kind enough to edit.
It was about as long, though not quite as contentuous, as the ICANN VI WG.

Turning to the question of standing, whether to participate in a consensus
call or a vote, not everyone in who "contributes" to the IETF actually has
"standing". Reputation matters. No matter how often Jim Flemming posts on
the amazing features of IPv8, no one pays him the slightest attention. The
situation exists today in the IDNA mailing list, as a collection of cranks
attempt to promote their quite daft "multilingual" agenda as an IETF/ICANN 

As a regional organization, residence in the region matters, it can not be
ignored without harm to the least of the region's participating residents.

With that I'm calling it a day with a quote from former Ops Area Director
Randy Bush, concerning routing infrastructure proposals, sent to NANOG a
few days ago:

  The goal is education and understanding, not a contest. These are
  all good and interesting approaches. Weapons are not allowed, we all
  work for the Internet.


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