[ripe-chair-discuss] Status of RIPE Chair discussion?
Nick Hilliard nick at foobar.org
Wed May 24 00:05:15 CEST 2017
Daniel, To clarify on language, can we all agree that we are talking about a selection method for the position of chair? And also agree to move away from the terms "election", "voting" and "leader" (the latter two terms which I ill-advisedly used in previous emails)? The usual reasons apply for avoiding these terms. The issue of selecting a new RIPE chair has happened exactly twice, once when RIPE was created, and once when Rob passed on the baton to Hans-Petter. On both occasions, an ad-hoc decision was made on the basis of expediency, and we've had the luxury that both situations ended up with an impeccable choice. This is not a defense of ad-hoc appointment, merely an observation that a sample size of two is not a good basis upon which to make a longer term decision about how to choose a chair. The problems with appointment are twofold: firstly, that there is no safety valve and secondly that - regardless of intent or idealism - it is the antithesis of bottom-up community process. The safety valve is the more serious of the two problems from a practical point of view. If the position of chair ends up vested in someone who abuses the position or is mediocre, then what happens? Your current suggestion means that they would be responsible for appointing both the vice chair and the next chair with no obligation to stand aside. This creates a dynastic hegemony, and history has repeatedly shown us that dynasties are a bad idea. I do not believe that it is feasible to suggest that a community like RIPE can seriously propose a selection method which institutes a top-down appointment mechanism. Apart from disenfranchising the RIPE community, it means that we do not practice what we preach. RIPE has endorsed the bottom-up approach since its beginning, and it would be difficult to defend a chair selection mechanism which wasn't bottom-up. We've seen many selection methods in the RIPE community over the years, ranging from choosing ASO representatives to WG chairs and plenty of things in between. We can also look further to other bottom up organisations, e.g. IETF, etc. So there is not a shortage of selection models to choose from. A 3 year term limit is too short, but a term limit needs to be put in place because it acts as an important safety valve. Nick Daniel Karrenberg wrote: > Job, > > we are looking to select someone who keeps the community working well > and working together. We are not selecting a "leader". We are not > selecting someone in a corporate governance role. > > I do not think that "bottom-up requires elections" is true. We have been > successful for 28 years without electing our chair and I argue that we > have had a productive time *because* we have not had RIPE chair > elections every three years. > > Elections do *not* have a high potential to select the kind of person we > want. The ideal person is not the one who gets nominated and elected. > They are also not the people who win a popularity contest nor a > name-recognition game. > > Elections also have a high potential to be extremely divisive rather > than unifying. A lot of energy may be necessary to re-unite the > community after a fiercely contested election. > > Elections also tend to cost a lot of energy during the campaigns if they > are contested. > > "Short, hard terms and term limits" are also not appropriate for the > RIPE chair. Hard terms and term limits tend to force "renewal" at very > bad moments in time. That is why I proposed text with a lot of > flexibility and with a lot of "usually"s in there. We want someone with > "gravitas" and continuity. We want flexibility to time the changing of > the watch. > > What you propose is absolutely appropriate for corporate governance > positions within groups of people like the RIPE NCC board. It is not > appropriate to select the best person as RIPE chair. > > Maybe we can compromise on a system where "current chair proposes new > vice chair to WG chairs who confirm or not" and "WG chairs provide > formal feedback on performance of chair and vice chair at regular > intervals"? > > I will be busy with family things during the next couple of weeks. > I will try to read this list. But I may not be able to participate in > the discussion much. But by all means keep it going! > > I also realise that we are missing a "design document" for fundamental > ideas behind the RIPE & RIPE NCC system of self-governance. It is all > passed on by word-of-mouth and experience. I am quite willing to help > write something like this together with a couple of WG chairs; then have > the community discuss it. Any takers? > > Daniel > > > PS: For those who do not know me: I'd like to think that I am not just > an inflexible traditionalist who wants the 'good old times' to never > end. Look at my CV and judge for yourself. Even if you don't you should > know that I have been "supporting the RIPE community since 1989", have > been the one and only vice chair of RIPE to date and that I have ample > experience with governance of both informal groups and serious > corporations. I *do* lack experience in the governance of fully > for-profit enterprises. > https://www.ianacg.org/icg-files/bios/bio-karrenberg-06aug14-en.pdf > > PPS: And yes I have fought alongside Nurani and Izumi in the IANA > transition battles within ICANN. While I can work in such a system, > I do not think it is remotely applicable to what RIPE is now and should > be in the future. > > > > >