[Internal-cg] Handling process complaints

Daniel Karrenberg daniel.karrenberg at ripe.net
Thu Jan 29 11:15:01 UTC 2015

Manal, colleagues,

let me explain why I believe we should not define detailed procedures 
for dealing with comments, and please let us not call them complaints 
and let us also not limit our discussion to comments about the processes 
used to create input to our process.

This is somewhat longer than usual, because I take a substantially 
different position from what I sense our general "mood" is. All that I 
ask is that each of us hears this argument before we proceed with what 
may feel comfortable now but could be quite unpleasant in the long run.


Our single task is to produce a proposal document. The one requirement 
for this document is that it will be acceptable to the Internet 
community and in particular to NTIA and the operational communities. In 
other words: we need to come up with a document that has sufficient 
support to get implemented. NB: All other properties of the document, 
such as that it results in a working arrangement etc. etc. derive from 
the acceptability.

Our task is not to respond to all, or even to any, comments made to us. 
Our task is not to treat everyone equally. Our task is not to be an 
appeals body for community processes, nor is it to arbitrate in 
conflicts arising from the process of providing input to us.

Again: Our task is to compose a document that will be acceptable to 
NTIA, the operational communities, others directly involved and the 
community at large in that order of priority.

Requirements & Process:

We have derived a number of requirements from the principles in order to 
receive input that will enable us to produce a document that is 
acceptable. We are currently executing a process that checks whether 
these requirements are met by the input we have received up to now from 
two operational communities. During this process we receive comments via 
a variety of channels. The only important thing about processing these 
comments is that we deal with all those that point out reasons why our 
final document may not be acceptable or how it can be made more 
acceptable. Anything else is a distraction from our task.

We have also agreed and stated forcefully that input on both substance 
and process for the community proposals should be treated within the 
respective community process. We have further agreed and stated that we 
will refer comments made to us to the respective community. There are a 
couple of good reasons for this and we should change that position.

Again: we need to address as a group all those comments that in our 
judgement raise a point that needs to be addressed in order to make our 
document acceptable to NTIA, the operational communities, other directly 
involved parties and the Internet community at large. We do not need to 
address any other comments, or even respond to any comment.

Making detailed procedures bears the significant risk of wasting time 
and energy in meta-discussions that are not needed because we do not 
need the procedures in the first place. More importantly it bears the 
risk that these procedures will be abused against us or that we loose 
credibility by running afoul of them unintentionally or even only allegedly.

Beyond these my personal experience suggests that the mere existence of 
a comment procedure encourages comments that would otherwise not be made 
because there was no guaranteed attention resulting from them.

What we should do:

1) We should point out our forum to the operational communities and 
other directly involved parties and ask them to participate with their 
particular responsibility in mind. We should point out that comments in 
this forum have no special properties and each participant should treat 
them according to their own judgement and procedures.

2) We should direct comments that we receive via other means to that 
forum as much as possible in order to have them on the public record and 
subject to reaction for others.

3) If any on us considers that the substance of a comment needs to be 
addressed by the ICG in order to ensure that our document will be 
acceptable, they should raise that substance in our deliberations and 
suggest an action we should take. Possible actions I can imagine are: 
amend a draft of our document, ask an operational community to consider 
the question and amend their input to us, ask an operational community 
to respond to a comment about their process, respond to a comment about 
the ICG process.

3a) This means it will take one of us to raise a question from a comment 
for us to address it. No comments will be automatically addressed. There 
will be no "due process" other than our normal ICG process. It also 
means that all comments are treated absolutely equal.

3b) If we remain concerned that we might miss comments that may lead to 
our document not being acceptable, we can delegate some of us to 
specifically watch the forum and bring questions that might affect the 
ultimate acceptability of our document to us.

What we should not do:

We should not define a process for dealing with comments. We should rely 
on our existing process and on our individual judgement to raise 
relevant questions and our collective judgement to address them.


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