[ppml] ARIN participation (was: Proposed Policy: IPv6 HD ratio)
matt.pounsett at cira.ca
Wed May 11 13:23:31 EDT 2005
It's an annoying but common feature of human nature to not bother
with things that are perceived to be working just fine, or perceived
to have a high bar of entry (either in required experience or
skill). Also, people are lazy.
We have a similar problem with participation here at CIRA, where
domain holders act in many ways like shareholders in the company..
running for and voting for our board, voting on annual financial
statements, etc. The members have a huge say in how the organization
is run, yet with over half a million domains out there we have a hard
time making quorum for our annual general meeting. As Bill Darte
noted, just look at the American and Canadian electoral processes..
even with millions of dollars going into advertising specifically
designed to get people to vote, a significant number of people just
The subject of participation at meetings came up in Reston.. in the
Policy Proposal BoF, I believe. One major thread of the conversation
revolved around the perception by newcomers that there is a great
deal of history (both technical and political) in most discussions,
as well as a need for a significant amount of operational experience
in order to understand all the nuances and potential side-effects of
any one suggestion or decision. The two combine to make it difficult
to feel comfortable adding one's voice.
Personally, as someone who operates a small network on the edge, I
just don't have operational experience on the same scale of many of
those who participate in meetings or on PPML. Also, as a relative
newcomer to the ARIN scene, I'm unaware of discussions that may have
already taken place eliminating particular solutions or avenues.
That makes it difficult to feel comfortable commenting, or making
suggestions... it's just too easy to commit some sort of gaffe. As a
result, I tend to limit my comments to subjects where I do have
significant operational expertise, such as with the DNS or with
whois. ... and I'm not even the proverbial geek introvert. I
gathered from the discussion at Reston that there are many others
with similar reasons for lurking.
I'm not sure there's an easy solution.
Creating a new mailing list certainly isn't going to do it... if the
members were going to participate in a mailing list just because it
exists, they'd participate here or on arin-discuss. If I'm reading
between the lines correctly, it seems the suggestion is based on the
notion of mandatory subscription, which I don't think will fly... and
not just because people will revolt if you tell them they /have/ to
accept e-mail from you. In my experience, people don't participate
on mailing lists because there just isn't time. I can spend a couple
hours a day just keeping up with ARIN and NANOG, and the only reason
my boss allows that to continue is because I've convinced him it's in
our best interests as a part of the infrastructure to know what's
Of course we want more people to participate, but I think it's
incorrect to suggest there's something wrong with having experienced
people (not only operationally experienced, but more importantly
experienced with the community that is ARIN) on the AC or the BoT.
As has already been noted in this thread, and as is noted at every
meeting, these people do not make or break policy -- they oversee
process, and rubber stamp the decisions of the community. I think
it's important that a significant number of the people doing those
jobs be very familiar with ARIN, its processes, and the nuances of
I haven't proposed any solutions here, but hopefully I've provided
some insight into why a participation problem exists. I don't have
any good suggestions, since marketing just isn't my forte, but I will
note that all cases where I've seen the public respond to requests to
participate, it has been at the expense of a significant amount of cash.
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