20i Domains

UKRAC

Discussion in 'Nominet General Information' started by monaghan, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    Today's the last day to vote in the UKRAC election (until 5pm).

    I don't need to ask for your votes myself (because I'm already effectively elected - only 2 candidates in my section for the 2 seats)... but I encourage you to make sure you get people elected who will not just be compliant with the Nominet management (see Public Benefit supporters detailed earlier in this thread).

    I know many of us think this UKRAC concept was set up by the Board/Executive to give the 'appearance' of engagement for PR reasons, but really using it as a means of controlling and filtering members' voice. That's also my view. For that reason, I have set the Nominet leadership 3 TESTS, to demonstrate and make sure the new Council is self-determining, democratic, and gets its voice published on the Nominet site:

    I've written to the Board (for forwarding to Andy Green, and copying in Simon Blackler, without whom none of this 'change' would have kicked off...) Let's see how Andy Green, the new Chair, responds:

    1. The first item on the agenda of the first UKRAC meeting should be the election of who the elected Council members want to choose as their Chairman (incidentally, that will not be me, just so you know I am not jockeying for that). As things stand Nominet says it will impose a Board director top down on the Council as its Chair. That is clearly totally unacceptable.

    2. The Board/Executive to set an early date for the re-introduction of the Members' Forum, and UKRAC to be given responsibility (as the elected representation of members) for deciding who should moderate it (members), and how it should operate - with the Forum accessible on the members' Hub. The Board/Executive also to commit to collective responsiveness to questions raised on the Forum, if moderators flag them up (with member endorsement) as important. Real engagement needs to be 'two way' and not just 'one way informative'.

    3. UKRAC must have the right to its own section on the Members' Hub, with freedom to post its own reports, minutes, and commentary. Up until now, the Members' Hub has been criticised for being a 'one way' information stream from Nominet. That needs to be broadened out, so there is a platform for UKRAC to provide member input (along with wider member input via a forum).

    There are other issues that will need addressing, including a review of the proposed 'terms of reference' of UKRAC: to be clear, there must be no limits on what elected UKRAC members discuss (Nominet has already tried to limit this).
     
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  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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    articles.co.uk
     
  3. Systreg

    Systreg Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Got an email from Nominet with the vote results:

    Dear member

    Results of the UKRAC vote

    Voting for the UKRAC members representatives closed on 22nd July, thank you to all those of you who stood for election and who cast a vote.

    Civica Election Services (CES) has now counted and verified the votes and we are pleased to announce that the following Nominet members are elected to the UKRAC:

    Large Segment
    • Rex Wickham,TwentyTwentyMedia Limited (two years)
    • Arnaud Franquinet, Gandi (one year)
    Mid-Small Segment
    • Andrew Bennett, Netistrar Ltd (two years)
    • Dan Rodgers, Domain Registrar Services Ltd (one year)
    Independent Segment
    • Susannah Clark, Trading as 'Girl Next Door' (two years)
    • Ciprian Cucuruz,Webber Multimedia Ltd (one year)
    Member-elected Non Executive Director Anne Taylor will Chair the group in line with the terms of reference set out by the members Design Group.

    Anne said: 'I'm looking forward to working with the Council and helping ensure we establish strong lines of communication between the Council and the Board as we get underway. As a new group, I expect things to evolve as we meet and discuss how to make the most of our time together. In the meantime, congratulations to those elected - the Council will bring members together to discuss important issues and their views and input will help shape the key decisions affecting .UK.'

    Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the process of designing, organising and supporting the establishment of the .UK Registry Advisory Council.

    We will update members when the date for the inaugural meeting is agreed.
     
  4. webber

    webber Active Member

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    Congratulations to the elected members and a big thank you to all who took the time to vote – an impressive turnout of 21.2% (compared to previous AGM for example).
    I'm really pleased that the results are fully aligned with the PublicBenefit.uk position and that, once again, the members have shown that they strongly support these principles.
    The newly elected UKRAC members, along with the new intentions of the Board communicated by the new Chair Andy Green, will hopefully turn Nominet back on course to a non-profit organisation for the benefit of its members and the wider society.
    I'd like to reassert that I view my role in the UKRAC as a proxy between the wider membership and the Board, so I will put my personal views on the side and aim to understand what are the views of the majority of members.
    I am looking forward to discussing the various topics on the UKRAC agenda with fellow members and feedback your ideas and views, as well as frustrations and pains, back to the Board.
    Hopefully the official Nominet forum will be up and running soon and that will offer a more formal and open means of engagement.
    In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with me.
     
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  5. Edwin

    Edwin Well-Known Member

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    Well done to everyone elected. Looks like a thoroughly decent slate has been returned.
     
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  6. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    I just echo everything that Ciprian said. I'm pleased to see that the vote reflected the support all elected candidates have for Public Benefit. That said, as Ciprian also said, elected UKRAC members should be a conduit, for what the majority of members want to see done, but also the minority views as well. Being realistic, it's an advisory body only, but hopefully we can soon have (a) a member-moderated forum (b) member in-put in the Members' Hub, instead of a one-way information stream (c) resolution of the following problem which I want sorted:

    UKRAC has been designed to have a Board member as Chair, rather than letting the elected UKRAC members choose their own Chair. I don't want to be Chair myself, but I do want one of the elected members to steer this Council. I do not want a member of the Nominet Board/Executive steering what we discuss, and deciding when to stop us, if they choose to talk about certain issues. They have also said that this Chair would have the power to close down a meeting if it veered off topic 'on grounds of Anti-Competition Law'. I think that's spurious, because we're perfectly capable of abiding by the Law for ourselves, just as the Board itself does.

    So that's one issue I want addressed, with change to the terms of reference, once we convene. Members have voted democratically, and that democratic process should also mean the elected members have the right to democratically choose who they want to be Chair of this member-led Council.

    Historically, right up to events this year, the Board/Executive have tried to control, to contain, and to steer things towards their own agenda. The new Council should steer its own agenda and how we choose to operate. Key in that is openness, transparency, and ongoing member input on issues of concern, as well as commitment to engage, to respond. The last thing we need is elected people (like some NEDs) who you vote for, and then they are hardly heard from again or don't reply to you. Like Ciprian says, feel free to get in touch with me.
     
  7. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    Ciprian can give you feedback on how the first UKRAC meeting went (and the lead up to it) if he wants, and I expect the minutes of the first meeting will be published in a while, but you know what minutes can be like (hello Nominet Board...) and they often don't tell the whole story. I thought I'd just give an update myself, because we were not elected for ourselves - we're meant to be representing Nominet Members and their concerns and views. The vote was democratic, so the basis is that we stand on our statements, but also trying to represent all members, not just the ones who elected us. Nevertheless, the 6 of us who were elected got the votes of people who had backed the Public Benefit campaign and the Resolution in March, and in my opinion we got those votes mainly because Simon Blackler endorsed us as the candidates who'd been vociferous or privately very supportive about the issues of that campaign.

    In fact the election of the 6 UKRAC candidates was a landslide, because nearly all the supposed 'opponents' of the Resolution in March (you may remember the Nominet mass phone campaign) just evaporated and disappeared when it came to the UKRAC election. That mass phone call campaign by Nominet was in my view pretty much a disgrace. An unlevel playing field. Only they had the phone numbers. And I simply do not believe that the detail and justifications for the Resolution (that Simon proposed) were represented in those calls. My view is they probably said Nominet was in danger of being de-stabilised, but most engaged and informed people voted for the Resolution. And those people voted again in the UKRAC election, because yes, they were engaged and wanted to make sure that UKRAC wasn't captured by supporters of the Old Board, and the old status quo. And so we were elected.

    But........ personally I don't regard this as anything to brag about! Firstly, because as I said in my election statements, I believe UKRAC was set up to contain, limit, funnel, and control member 'voice'. I still don't have confidence that it won't be used for PR appearances of engagement, but remain powerless. Time will tell. The other reason I don't 'big myself up' about being elected on to the UKRAC is that I could have been a porcupine but I would still have been elected because there were 2 seats in the 'small independent' sector, and only 2 of us stood for election. So it was an impossibility for Ciprian and me NOT to be elected. To be honest, I didn't really want to be involved in this at all, but I thought it was best not to leave the door open for Board/Executive apologists (and there were some candidates like that in the other sections) to take control of the Council and make it even more of a rubber stamp for Nominet. So here I am... not on merit but on the basis that nobody else could be assed to do it.

    So this Council is about democracy, right? Members having a 'voice'?

    Well, then we come to some issues:

    1. Nominet decided to parachute in a Board Director, and imposed her as Chair of this 'democratic' Council.

    2. The Nominet Director was given a vote, even though they were parachuted in and not elected to UKRAC.

    Sorry, but that can't be right... so in the 2nd meeting we are planning to 'ASK' the Board to change the rules, so the people the members elected get to Chair their own Council and steer it... because as things stand, this Director Chair has the right to steer the meetings, close down discussion if it doesn't stick to what the Board allows us to discuss, and even has powers to shut a meeting down if this Chair does not think we should be discussing something that Nominet has defined as 'off topic'.

    I have strongly argued to insist on this change, though I think one or two of my colleagues wanted to be more conciliatory and 'not push the Board too soon'. I disagreed as did some others. Democracy is democracy, even if we are rulers of a more or less powerless kingdom. Maybe, hopefully, we can still try to influence or persuade. They will of course be selective about what advice they choose to listen to.

    As for the right of the imposed Director to have a vote (when actually, as a member of the old 'remnant' Board they were a big part of the reason we got landslided in and none of that old Board of forum-deleters would have been elected, in fact just the opposite, because they collectively colluded in the direction Russell and Mark took the Company)... well at least 3 of us agree that we should also 'ASK' the Board, at our 2nd meeting, to remove the vote of this Director, and make her an observer instead. That would meet the functional purposes of her presence aka 'reporting back to the Board'. But not everyone on the Council is so sure.

    But there are further concerns I have voiced:

    3. The rules of the Board divide issues into 'on topic' subjects which we may discuss, and 'off topic' subjects which we should not discuss.

    4. They cited Competition Law with advice on grounds of law NOT to veer onto the 'off topic' so-called not "permitted" subjects.

    This is risible. It's risible attempt to control and limit the 'voice' of member opinion (I believe), so we don't discuss issues like the ones that the Public Benefit campaign had to raise, such as Governance and accountability of the Board (off topic)... acquisitions and expansion into other businesses (off topic)... we're meant to stick to the areas that Nominet wants us to discuss. Topics like these were quite rightly raised by Simon Blackler and hundreds of other members. If it was good that these subjects were raised, it remains good that we should be allowed to discuss what members want discussed now as well. Especially as the new Chair Andy Green says that there is Governance Change coming in 2022. What will that mean for members? Will it have longer term impact on prices, on accountability, on who has most influence?

    I raised these two issues at the first meeting, and I hope I have got it on record that they won't impose these limits, but I'll wait to see the minutes. And also, there will be an issue of how the Executive reacts if we add a contentious 'off topic' subject to a meeting agenda, or start to discuss it (at which point our paracuted in Director Chair can close down the discussion or the meeting).

    Now I admit I am a bit confrontational. There are conciliators on the UKRAC who want to give the Board a chance, and hope/believe they have changed since March, and I 'get' their position but I'm afraid I'm the 'bad cop' and I clash a bit with one or two colleagues. I simply don't believe the Nominet Board and Executive have earned our trust. You get things by pushing. Don't push and they'll get away with as much control as they can, in my opinion. And change has to be proved over time... meanwhile, only a few months ago, that old (in my view) renegade Board were deleting the forum, steering the ship full-steam towards a profit-making expansion and acquisition future (except their acquisition/ventures project wasn't making profit... CyGlass, Automated Cars, and White Space Spectrum have set Nominet back £7.5 million and CyGlass is still haemorrhaging money). This was the direction the Board and Executive were taking Nominet just months ago... and then there was the way they handled the lead up to the EGM, and the pro-Board video on the voting page, and the 500 sheets of addresses sent to Simon when an email would have been far more helpful. Does the leopard change its spots, or do you have to push and push, to get information, to get responses, to get change?

    (continued...)
     
  8. Siusaidh

    Siusaidh Well-Known Member

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    (...continuing)

    So no doubt I am a Marmite person, and I am not on this Council on the basis of merit, but only on the endorsement of Simon Blackler. And some of you will view an industry outsider like me as having no right to represent anyone. I get that. And I might resign anyway, if the Board doesn't cave and change the rules as mentioned above. Because at a certain point, we all lead busy lives, and if they mess this Council around then it won't be worth burning up the hours (like the 50 pages of docs they sent us to read 4 days before the first meeting). I'm only on this Council because nobody else bothered to be (I can understand why!). But like it or leave it, this is my first little feedback... because of, you know, that democracy thing.

    I think if you're elected you have an obligation to the people who elected you... to feed back... to represent their views. And I know full well that the people who elected me (and not bragging but I got more votes than any of the other 5 candidates, so I better listen to them) did not vote for me because they wanted to see a member of the old Remnant Board that was eviscerated and decapitated in March parachuted in to be Chair and to steer and to vote in the new Council. If I accept that then I betray the people who voted for me. They wanted the opposite direction. That's why I find the rules that were imposed (many of them brought in by the Board *after* the Design Group had finished) totally unacceptable as they stand. I mean, even in simple PR terms, imposing one of the old discredited Board is such a 'bad look' - you couldn't think of a more effective way of making people sceptical about the UKRAC at the outset, or seeing us all as sock puppets of the Nominet establishment.

    Will Andy Green change the culture of Nominet? It certainly needs changing. I hope he does. In my dream scenario I'd like to see Simon Blackler stand for election to the Board (though I don't blame him if he doesn't, it's going to be a poisoned chalice next year) and building an alliance with Andy to force certain people to 'move on' out of the Company. But Andy still has a lot to prove. I really want to see Nominet flourish, doing what it was set up to do: run the UK Registry. I want to see it as near as possible to a 'not for profit' (Andy doesn't like that term). I want to see a Forum re-instated, with an obligation on Nominet Board/Executive to respond within 10 days to questions that members raise (with members choosing which questions have to be answered, up to a reasonable ceiling). I want to see far more detail in Board minutes, and details of any differences of view among the Directors. I want to know how much money CyGlass lost last year. Openness and transparency. Is that too much to ask?

    The obvious elephants in the room are Expiring Domains and Governance Change. Final decisions are being put off this year, probably because the Board/Executive want to steady the ship, play nicey-nicey, keep people happy... while they re-group, consolidate, and prepare for what could be radical changes next year. But first they have to get through the AGM, get Andy Green approved by members, get a new CEO in place (probably Jan or Feb 2022) and work out ways of somehow stopping a 'Simon Blackler Event' ever happening again. Until then everything needs to be buttercups and daisies.