[ppml] Consensus and voting: a proposal

Scott Leibrand sleibrand at internap.com
Sun Oct 1 21:32:43 EDT 2006

Overall I like Sam's proposal.  Would it be possible to do a procedural 
experiment at the upcoming ARIN meeting?  Specifically, if the person 
running the straw polls thinks it would be helpful, could they try 
asking for straw polls on specific points of objection (raised in 
discussion or on PPML) if the first straw poll shows enough objection to 
indicate a lack of consensus?


Sam Weiler wrote:
> I'm concerned that the reliance on straw polls during ARIN's public
> policy meetings significantly impedes progress towards consensus.
> Accordingly, I'd like to see ARIN eliminate or seriously revamp the
> use of straw polls (voting) in the public policy meeting.
> In my understanding, consensus requires consideration of the concerns
> of all parties, including those opposed to a particular proposal.  A
> prerequisite to such consideration is having all parties voice their
> concerns in enough detail to allow for meaningful dialog.
> In my experience at ARIN meetings, the up-or-down straw polls on
> policy proposals often don't provide enough information about the
> nature of the opposition to permit a meaningful attempt to find a
> compromise or resolve the disagreement.  In many of these cases, the
> AC has used the results of those straws poll to justify a finding that
> there's not consensus, but without giving us a path toward consensus
> -- we often don't know why there's opposition to a proposal.
> By way of comparison, the IETF (at least the working groups I'm active
> in) asks for opposition to described in some detail, which gives those
> tasked with judging consensus a rich set of data to work with.  It
> also gives the participants in the discussion a chance to dialong
> about the objections to a proposal and attempt to reach consensus.
> In order to keep us from deadlocking for want of understanding, I'd
> like to see the AC make a point of considering opposition to a
> proposal only when that opposition is voiced in enough detail for the
> AC to clearly understand the opposition (and, by implication, in
> enough detail to allow a dialog on the substance).  To that end, I
> propose the following changes:
> -- In the public policy meeting, solicit straw polls only reluctantly
>     and only when the AC thinks that taking one will significantly help
>     in reaching or judging consensus.  In particular,
>     -- In the absence of voiced opposition to a proposal (and,
>        presumably, the presence of any voiced support), don't do any
>        straw poll at all.
>     -- In the presence of voiced opposition, allow the AC, at its own
>        discretion, to poll for 1) support for a proposal and 2)
>        objection on specific grounds, with each separate reason for
>        opposition being polled separately.  I suggest that the AC
>        delegate the authority to ask for this poll to particular
>        individuals (perhaps the shepherds for each proposal, or the AC
>        members on stage during the presentation).
> It might further help to have the AC, prior to the public policy 
> meeting, specifically contemplate 1) what opposition it expects to 
> hear on a particular proposal and 2) whether a straw poll about that 
> particular item will help the community reach consensus.  That group 
> discussion can then guide the AC members tasked with deciding, in real 
> time, whether to do a straw poll during the meeting.
> -- Sam Weiler
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