wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper seeking advice on building a nationwide network

Benson Schliesser bensons at queuefull.net
Fri Sep 23 02:05:51 UTC 2011

Hi, Paul.

On Sep 22, 2011, at 8:03 PM, Paul Vixie wrote:

>> My understanding is that the NomCom consists of 7 people. Of those, 2
>> come from the board and 2 come from the AC. Together, those 4 members of
>> the existing establishment choose the remaining 3 NomCom members. In the
>> past, there was at least the appearance of random selection for some of
>> the NomCom members. But in any case, due to its composition, the NomCom
>> has the appearance of a body biased in favor of the existing
>> establishment.
>> Please correct any misunderstanding that I might have. Otherwise, I
>> encourage an update to the structure of future NomComs.
> can you explain what it was about prior nomcoms that gave the appearance
> of random selection?  to the best of my knowledge, including knowledge i
> gained as chair of the 2008 ARIN NomCom, we've been doing it the same way
> for quite a while now.  so i do not understand your reference to "at least
> the appearance of random selection" in the past.

Earlier this year I received the following from ARIN member services:  "This year the NomCom charter was changed by the Board.  In the past the 3 Member volunteers were selected at random.  This year the 3 volunteers will be chosen by the 4 current members of the NomCom (2 from the Board 2 from the AC)"

The above quote was sent to me in response to a query I made, inquiring how the NomCom would be chosen in 2011.  It is consistent with what I was told in 2010, when I was chosen to be part of the 2010 NomCom.  At that time I was told that Member volunteers were chosen randomly.  During my NomCom tenure, however, it was suggested to me privately that there was very little randomness involved in the selection process; I was told that individuals were specifically chosen for NomCom.  I don't know what to make of this disparity, honestly, which is why I referenced "the appearance of random selection".

> since ARIN members-in-good-standing elect the board and advisory council,
> and also make up three of the four seats of the nominations committee, i
> do not share your view on "bias" as expressed above.  i think it shows
> that ARIN is clearly governed by its members -- which is as it should be.
> by your two references to "the existing establishment" do you intend to
> imply that ARIN's members don't currently have the establishment that they
> want, or that they could not change this establishment if they wanted to,
> or that ARIN's members are themselves part of "the existing establishment"
> in some way that's bad?

The NomCom acts as a filter, of sorts.  It chooses the candidates that the membership will see.  The fact that the NomCom is so closely coupled with the existing leadership has an unfortunate appearance that suggests a bias.  I'm unable to say whether the bias exists, is recognized, and/or is reflected in the slate of candidates.  But it seems like an easy enough thing to avoid.

As for my use of "existing establishment":  I'm of the impression that a relatively small group of individuals drive ARIN, that most ARIN members don't actively participate.  I have my own opinions on why this is, but they aren't worth elaborating at this time - in fact, I suspect many ARIN members here on NANOG can speak for themselves if they wanted to.  In any case, this is just my impression.  If you would rather share some statistics on member participation, election fairness, etc, then such facts might be more useful.

> ARIN's bylaws firmly place control of ARIN into the hands of its members.
> if you think that's the wrong approach, i'm curious to hear your reasoning
> and your proposed alternative.

One of ARIN's governance strengths is the availability of petition at many steps, including for candidates rejected by the NomCom.  Likewise, as you noted, leaders are elected by the membership.  For these reasons I previously noted that "ARIN has a pretty good governance structure" and I continue to think so.  It could be improved by increased member involvement, as well as broader involvement from the community. (For instance, policy petitions should include responses from the entire affected community, not just PPML.)  But my criticisms should be interpreted as constructive, and are not an indictment of the whole approach.


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