A few days ago we described the discrimination and barriers ICANN’s Board and staff have unjustly placed on civil society representation in ICANN. In a comment on our blog, ICANN’s Director of Public Participation, Kieren McCarthy, made an attempt to be constructive. After implying that hundreds of thousands of people should be actively involved in the GNSO, he stated, “Now if you want my help in getting those people in, just ask – that's my job after all. But I've never been asked by anyone in ICANN …to help them go get more people. I'd be happy to do so.”

OK, Kieren, consider yourself asked! As a supporter of civil society in ICANN, IGP welcomes your initiative. Here is a link to the eligibility requirements for the noncommercial constituency membership. Refer to Article III Sections A and B (sorry, no ICANN employees – obvious conflict of interest). And here is the link to the NCUC application form.

In your honor, we will be highlighting your membership drive, devoting a special segment of our website to keeping track of the hordes of eager participants you will bring in. For every eligible NCUC member you bring, we’ll ratchet up the tracker. Soon the whole world will witness your success…. When you break 50,000, you get an honorary IGP baseball cap.

Keep in mind that you have some tough competition. Current NCUC officers have increased NCUC membership from about 40 a year ago to something more than 100 today. (This includes both individuals and organizations with hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of members.) But we’re assuming that you can tap into many new networks. Go get ‘em, Kieren!

I want you to become a member of NCUC!

10 thoughts on “The 2009 NCUC Membership Drive: “Tell 'em Kieren sent you!”

  1. Bit weird that you've posted this here and expected me to find it rather than give me a call or send me an email, but passive-aggressiveness aside – sure.
    I can tell you right now that the biggest problem you have is the eligibility requirements are written in legalese. That will turn away 75 percent of English speakers and 95 percent of non-English speakers straight away.
    Rewrite them in plain language.
    Also, translate them.
    You also need to give people a reason – or a series of reasons – for why they should join the NCUC. Give em five or ten and make them interesting and involving.
    I'd be happy to help draft and/or edit these documents. And I'd be happy to direct people to it from the ICANN main site.
    Back to you (and please email me to say when you have responded).

  2. Kieren
    Thanks. Looking forward to getting this underway. A few responses:
    No one who joins NCUC does so because of the charter. People apply because they are interested in shaping ICANN policy. As with all other constituences, the Executive Committee and chair decide, based on the charter, whether they are eligible.

    We linked you to the eligibility list so you know where to look when you are rounding up those tens of thousands of potential members.

    You can ask your colleagues over in the policy staff why the charter is written in legalese. It has to be. Anyway, you (or I) can't change it, it requires a 2/3 vote of the constituency and Board approval to make a change. Don't blame that on us, it's an ICANN thang.

    We authorize you to “translate” any document on the site you like in your outreach efforts. In fact at one point ALAC had our proposed NCSG charter translated so I presume you can do that, too. ICANN has a pretty efficient document translation infrastructure in place.

    I am a bit surprised to see ICANN's Director of Public Participation asking us for reasons to get involved in ICANN via the NCUC. I'd suggest that the bullet points are pretty simple:
    * You get to shape domain name policy
    * You play a role in selecting ICANN Board members
    * You get to learn from and interact with other like-minded noncommercial organizations interested in ICANN policies and issues
    * You get free food and drinks from VeriSign if you can get to a quarterly meeting
    * You join an exciting community of vibrant movers and shakers

    I can't wait to see that counter roll, Kieren.

  3. So, despite ourselves, I think we can work together on improving this.
    I am going to produce a plain language version of the eligibility requirements. If you then agree as the NCUC to accept that document, I will get ICANN to translate it into the five UN languages.
    I will also take your reasons for joining the NCUC and work on them. They don't seem very enticing to me at the moment. Again, if the NCUC then accepts that document, I will have it translated into the five UN languages.
    What will need to do then is compile a list of entities that we think should or would want to be a member of the NCUC and approach them directly.
    My first thoughts on this – and I am sure you can come up with others:
    * Universities – the NCUC is the perfect place for universities – and there are loads these days studying Internet issues and Internet governance. It can't be that hard to compile a list of relevant people. I don't know if there is a catch-all worldwide list of universities but there will be something.
    * ISOC chapters. To my mind, every ISOC chapter should be a member of the NCUC. I may be missing some historical context but this is a no-brainer to my mind. It is easy to track down ISOC chapters. I also know a few people at the top of ISOC, so they would all be good to approach.
    * IGF Civil Society Groups – if they are going to the IGF, chances are they would be interested in ICANN as well. The NCUC's current members know the IGF very well. I know most actors in the IGF pretty well too. Let's compile a list and start making calls.
    So those are my promises to you. What can you promise back if this is to be a fruitful partnership?

  4. I think that Kieren is making an honest attempt to help. He deserves neither sarcasm nor cynicism.
    George Sadowsky

  5. ICANN staff should please devote equal time to helping the Business and Commercial Users Constituency with membership outreach. It is as tough a sell, if not tougher, to get commercial interests involved. We have about 40 members, representing something like 10,000 businesses worldwide. So a nice short term goal might be 100 members, representing 50,000 businesses.
    Please help.
    Now that NCUC will be on equal footing with the so-called 'commercial interests', it seems only fair to have equal support of ICANN staff. So thanks in advance Kieran!
    Mike Rodenbaugh
    Officer, Business & Commercial Users Constituency

  6. Kieren
    Thanks, this is a good start! I do appreciate your efforts, but you also need to understand the nature of the challenge, which I think you will as you sincerely attempt to develop more participation. Most of the obvious ideas you are proposing have been worked on for years. Not to say you can't adda few here and there, but we don't look to be talking about quantum leaps. E.G., I am a University Professor and hold positions at two Universities on two continents. We already have 5-10 University or Univeristy-based members, but I can tell you that getting a University-level decision (i.e., from a Chancellor) will be extremely difficult, and getting academics who are paid to teach and do research and administer their units to remain active in GNSO will be an even greater challenge. On IGF civil society, ahem, take a look at the 80+ organizations and individuals who signed up to support the NCSG charter (and were ignored by Denise and Robert). There you will find the bulk of IGF CS. NCUC already has a few (4-5) ISOC chapters as members, but here is an area where we could make progress, insofar as local ISOC chapters are real. Please understand, I am not discouraging you, and I sincerely welcome your efforts. But I also think our own efforts deserve a lot more respect from ICANN staff and the more you engage in this kind of constructive recruiting the more you will understand about that.

  7. Hi there, George! Where's your NCUC membership application? You can join as an individual. We need your wisdom, buddy.

  8. Hi Kieren
    This is an unproductive discussion. Here's how to recruit people.
    Select an action that's underway. Too late I think for today's Charter comments deadline, but whatever is the next action. Write a theoretical frame with a simple stopper line to start with, then whatever other concepts that you want to draw a line with. End with a question specifically asking if they agree something needs to be done about the problem. NCUC has a ridiculous clickwrap on it that should just be replaced with this pitch in outreach tactics, so as long as that's in place you apparently are going to have to incorporate the notions of that clickwrap in this theoretical frame for the pitch. Try to do so briefly, hopefully you can reduce it to one qualifying phrase, that fairly represents those terms.
    Follow the agreement question with the action, what you'd like them to do. End that with a question about whether they'll help on that.
    This sets up a specific theoretical and practical frame. Next, start contacting people one-to-one. Don't pitch lists, pitch individuals. It's a numbers game — you're not trying to convince people, just hitting them with a pitch and moving on. You're trying to delineate the buyers from the non-buyers, so all that interests you is how many stop to respond (not who and why).
    Don't spend time engaging, though you can modify your tools to restructure the tactic after you're done (in this case, that means the pitch, perhaps the action or briefing materials you point people to). Don't restructure a tactic while it's in motion — that undermines its integrity. Executing on your own, you'll have to be disciplined about this and perhaps there will be fits and starts until you've got the tactic framed well, but in that begin the formal tactic when you've settled on your tools and commit to not varying them. If you're captaining an outreach team, you'll naturally do this.
    There's a certain rate of responsiveness that you will get, and that rate tells you how much outreach will generate how much results. Just start up google and brainstorm, trying to think up interesting constituencies who might give a damn about the problem you're dealing with, then finding individuals and sending them the pitch. I do allow for slight variations where it's clear that I am addressing one person — like you may find an organization's website, and I find you can either 1) pitch the leader of the organization and cc a relevant department head or other contact person, or 2) do the reverse, pitching the appropriate department and cc'ing their leadership (and which way doesn't matter).
    You can personalize with a simple note at the top — this does not need to elaborate — you can literally keep it “Hello so and so, I thought with your interest in (“interactive TV” / “information freedom” / “participatory standards” / whatever you googled) you'd be concerned about this” and then paste the pitch below. They will get what you are doing and why you've approached them. Do not take time to elaborate, all you need to do is show them what you are doing (and that includes specifically the fact that you are sending them a general pitch that's been designed for this kind of action). They will see what you are doing, and will act (at a certain rate) based on the fact they see you in motion.
    After executing for a period (A day's work or 4 hours), debrief the tactic: How much pitches sent, how many responses generated, perhaps broken down by expressed interest, signed up to NCUC.
    Later you can also analyze how many followed through with the action you pitched them for. What you want to report are the empirics of the action — what rates of response one gets with a formalized pitch. Note that the responses you're reporting are how many responded to the outreach with various levels of commitment, just by following through according to the structure of the tactic.
    This will let others know what sort of results they can expect, and the tactic can be reproduced and expanded with a good understanding of how successful it will be.
    This works because you are showing motion by your outreach. You create motion by showing motion. Even though you are pitching individuals, they will begin to notice that other folks they know have also been pitched, and what happens is the realization occurs that this is an action underway.
    People aren't apathetic, you just need to show them something in motion they can step into. As you do the outreach, you will trigger their action.
    You use a real action as a basis for pitching for engagement in the reason and the method, and they join up with the group as a matter of course.

  9. I'll be honest with you Milton, almost everything I have done at ICANN has come with the warning that it's been tried before and it won't work.
    What people forget – but thankfully we are continually reminded of thanks to the Internet – is that if you give people the freedom and the reason to do something, particularly if it helps make things better, and they will make it happen. You just have to try not to control it.
    I can see the hard work that has gone into the NCUC website and the Facebook site but it is dry rather than inviting.
    Where are the reasons that people should join?
    Where is the poll asking for members' views?
    Where are the snappy memos outlining the big topic that the NCUC thinks is of greatest importance at the moment?
    Where is the evidence that NCUC members' input had a direct impact on events?
    Where is the blog giving members a first-hand view of what is going on?
    I know as well as anyone how tiring ICANN can be and how beaten down you can feel at times. But you need to find a way to re-energise yourself and for the NCUC that should be members clamouring to know what happened – because they read the paper and voted online and watched Robin on YouTube.
    If you shed off your cynical shell – at least with respect to this aspect of recruiting – you'll remember the positive reasons why people should get engaged in ICANN and the rest will follow from there.
    As an example – your point wrt universities above. I think you are approaching it the wrong way. Don't try to get official permission straight off. Get the professor interested in a personal capacity. Make it easy for him (or her) to join as an individual.
    Send them materials and ask them to vote. If you make it enticing enough, they will start following ICANN and then it is they who will go to their own university and explain why they need to take a more formal approach.
    Now I owe you some documents, so I will do them today.
    I also have the Business Constituency chasing me as you can see above. So long as people understand I am only one person, I will be happy to do all I can to pull in more people to these structures.

  10. So I have just sent you an email with three documents attached as promised. I also included most of the NCUC executive committee on the email because at the end of the day it is their decision and their job.
    Plus, under the NCUC bylaws, it is the regional representatives' responsibility to increase membership and participation so I have sent my ideas and my documents and asked them to decide what , if anything, they want to do with them.
    Most of that work is NCUC specific – but one part could easily be tweaked and used by other ICANN groups so I reproduce it here in the hope others find it useful.
    The main point is that people have to be given clear and interesting reasons to join ICANN constituencies. Otherwise, it's just a drag on your free time.
    Top Five Reasons to Join the NCUC
    1. You are kept up-to-date on all the latest domain name policy issues
    2. You can start a formal discussion process with the entire Internet community, including businesses, governments and technical community
    3. You can serve on working groups that both fix problems with the domain name system and decide the future evolution of the Internet
    4. You get to meet and interact with the leading voices of the Internet industry
    5. You get to ensure that the voice of those not seeking to make money from the Internet is heard
    Interested? To find out more, join today and contact us to learn more.

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