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Comments on the Preliminary Evaluation Report
  • To: org-eval@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Comments on the Preliminary Evaluation Report
  • From: Eric Brunner-Williams in Portland Maine <brunner@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 20:33:19 -0400
  • Cc: brunner@xxxxxxxxxxx

[webmaster: please post under "Preliminary Evaluation Report. 
 http://forum.icann.org/org-eval/preliminary-report/. thanks]


I've contributed to several proposals. I contribute to the IETF PROVREG WG
as an EPP (and RRP) implementor, to some of the IETF and RIR's work in the
area of WHOIS, and my involvement in the TLD problem dates to IAHC.

I'm commenting as an individual.

Elmar Knipp (SRS implementor and contributor to the IETF PROVREG WG) made
the point that the technical evaluation of the SWITCH proposal is so odd as 
to be explained only by systemic error -- the actual marks being those of a
different proposal.

I agree with Elmar's analysis.

Aleck Johnson (co-author with Rob Courtney of CDT of a good paper on policy
for .US, mooted by the US DoC award to NeuStar) made the point that ISOC is
at risk of failure as a going concern, and ISOC's selection of Afilias as
operator is itself problematic.

I agree with Aleck's analysis. I also agree with his subsequent observation
that other bidders are similarly situated.

To my personal knowledge, GNR has sought to sell its ICANN franchise since
Stockholm, and now exists only as a "hosted front office", on par with the
.BZ and other hosted "registries". NeuStar has been in free fall since the
Marina del Rey 2001 meeting, executing 15% layoffs every 60 days and closing
its London, Seattle, Chicago (data center), and Washington head offices in an
effort to stay afloat.

Marshall Strauss (President DotOrg Foundation) made the point the evaluation
failed a basic quality control test -- it rated as both "marginal" and as
"acceptable" the Registry Advantage technical proposal, common to both the
RegisterOrg and DotOrg Foundation bids.

This is really troubling, as stripped of all the persiflage, the ICANN .ORG
review mechanism literally restates the ICANN new open gTLD contract award
order. First .INFO (Afilias), second .BIZ (NeuLevel/NeuStar), third .NAME
(GNR), fourth .PRO (Register). Where present, non-profit participation in a
bid is detrimental to the new gTLD bidder, and wholly non-profit bids (ISC,
SWITCH, Unity) are marginalized by the reviewer that failed the basic control
test (Register Advantage, above).

I appreciate Marshall's chagrin that writing thousands of words for a strong
policy (present also in the ISC, SWITCH, and UNITY bids) actually detracted
from the strength of the partnership with a for-profit operator. He must have
thought he brought value to the table, and finding out he's a persona non
grata can't be pleasant. Of course, this negative valuation is common to all
of the ISC, SWITCH and UNITY bids. Whatever each brought to the table, it
wasn't competitive with having been one of the unsponsored awardees of
November 2000.

There is a problem, or several problems, with ICANN's .ORG review process.

Personally, I'd have preferred the bid format to place less emphesis on
boiler-plate and pro forma, and greater emphesis on the policy and technical
core propositions of each proposal. Reviewers not already inured to the
"new gTLD" style of ICANN pitches must have been distracted by the high
page-count of low-content pages.

I'd have preferred the ICANN "discussion forum" to focus on something other
than the accumulation of what can only be called "billets doux" for some of
the bidders. There are other issues than simply how many absurdly vacuuous
"letters of support" any marketing group can garnish from poorly informed

I'd have preferred the technical review to address operational issues such
as the jurisdiction of WHOIS data, relative values of remaining rfc2832
and rfc2832bis consistent and "thin" (RRP), or going "thick" (EPP), to the
registrars as well as the registry, the ability and willingness to transfer
their technology to ccTLD and SLD registry operators, etc.

I'd have preferred to see Josh Elliot (ex-IANA), Ross Rader (ex-Tucows),
Doug Armentrout (ex-NeuLevel), Scott Hollenbeck (VGRS), Karen Rose (ex-US
DoC), ... , or a panel from the RIRs -- people who have real technical and
management experience in this area -- attempt the problem of evaluation.
Balanced biases beats pliant ignorance.

I don't see how corporate IT consultants could overcome their bias for
"corporate" bidders, nor do I see how Academic CIOs could overcome their
bias for a "high status" bidder. It is ironic that NCDNHC team is a better
technical participant than the technical review teams, and actually has
data, and errors, and cares to attempt to rectify the errors, data, and
what passes for reality.

There is no necessity for haste.

Publication (zone file generation and propagation) during a "transaction
freeze" can be transfered to Nominum or ISC trivially, with implied auto-
renewal during the freeze. Transactions may be deferred to the registrars,
and the familiar bulk-transfer process "re-start" the function of the .ORG
registry, whenever that entity is selected. June, not January, should frame
transition to the new operator after this botched evaluation.

The non-profit proposants themselves, and/or ICANN, can and should craft
better re-statements, better joint operating agreements, joining parts that
work, discarding parts that are duplicated, and seek to collaborate and
arrive at a simpler, less nuanced and conditional outcome.

	Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
	Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

		Joseph Brackett Jr. Alfred, Maine (1848).

The .ORG registry, its registrars, its registrants, and those who use the
resources published by the .ORG communities, and even ICANN, need to come
down where we ought to be. True simplicity really is what the market needs.

It is also cheaper.

Eric Brunner-Williams
Portland, Maine

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