Report of the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force
Interim Report of the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force
This is an interim report of the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force (NTEPPTF). It is being posted for community feedback and comment. The Task Force is at a stage where such feedback is essential to further progress.
The interim report frames the approach being followed by the Task Force; elaborates on certain key issues; and proposes the questions that the Task Force recommends at this stage should be addressed in evaluating the new TLDs. At this stage, however, the Task Force is not prepared to propose criteria for answering these questions, preferring to receive community input on the questions themselves before proceeding to this next step. The Task Force also proposes an adjusted schedule for the remainder of its work.
This is an interim report of the New TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force (NTEPPTF). The NTEPPTF was chartered at the 4 June 2001 meeting of the ICANN Board of Directors in Stockholm, Sweden under the following resolution:
The President of ICANN has carried out the directive of the Board to form the Task Force. Following consultations with the Councils and constituencies designated in the resolution the following individuals were appointed (primary affiliations shown in parentheses):
A status report was made by the NTEPPTF during the Public Forum at ICANN"S meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay that outlined the approach the Task Force was following. That report also indicated that the Task Force was not able to meet the schedule envisioned by the chartering resolution because of a late start, and presented a more realistic schedule. That new schedule, however, is further compromised by delays imposed by ICANN's decision to limit its business agenda at its Marina del Rey meeting in November 2001 in favor of a special agenda directed at security and stability of the Internet's naming and address allocation systems.
This is a more complete, but nevertheless interim, report of the Task Force and is being posted for community feedback and comment. The Task Force is at a stage where such feedback is essential to further progress.
A key point is that the Task Force is not chartered with conducting an evaluation, but rather developing a plan for the Board's considerations as to how such an evaluation should be conducted. We will comment separately on the implications of this serial approach.
The Task Force decided to divide its work into three stages:
Evaluation can be an almost limitless undertaking. It could continue almost indefinitely if every concern or question were pursued in the minutest detail. However, there are practical decisions that must be made by ICANN in the near future if it is to be responsive to community demands for clear indications as to how ICANN plans to move forward with the introduction of new TLDs.
The Task Force has therefore adopted as a guiding principle that its recommendations should be limited to answering only those questions that are likely to have a significant bearing on decisions that are likely to affect those plans now and in the immediate future. Furthermore, those questions should be limited to those that are answerable with reasonable certitude using data that is readily accessible, and preferably as quantitatively as possible. The latter, of course, cannot always be the case, but should at least be a goal.
Even given the foregoing guiding principle limiting the recommended scope of the evaluation, the approach being followed is still serial in nature. Some of the new TLDs are just being launched at the time of writing of this preliminary report, while for others contractual agreements have not yet been signed and it will likely be several months before they are launched. Although in connection with new TLDs already launched, important issues have already come to the fore - particularly in connection with the implementation of "sunrise" and "landrush" domain name allocation methods - it will be some time before any kind of steady state can be reached allowing for a full evaluation of performance.
Yet segments of the community are concerned about the delays in moving forward (it must be recognized that this sentiment is not universally shared). Those most directly concerned, of course, are those organizations whose proposals were not accepted during the first round of submissions in the year 2000 and those who are anxious to submit new proposals. The ICANN Board may find that it needs to move forward faster than can be accommodated by a serial and somewhat lengthy process. There may be a need to move forward in parallel.
With that in mind, the NTEPPTF proposes that the evaluation be broken into three phases:
The questions being asked will undoubtedly vary by phase. The degree of precision in the answers may also vary.
The Task Force also recognizes that the questions being asked and the degree of precision in the answers may also differ between Unsponsored and Sponsored TLDs.
These differences may allow for some greater degree of parallel processing. The Board may, for example, wish to consider the extent to which it can move forward on certain fronts - such as planning for the next round of TLD applications - while conducting Phase 1 or 2 evaluations. Thus, the Board may (or may not) wish to move forward faster in initiating processes to launch new sponsored TLDs if it assesses the risks are significantly less than those associated with launching new unsponsored TLDs.
Moving ahead faster, however, entails certain risks. One particular risk is that some key item may emerge later in the evaluation that, had it been known sooner, would have affected the decision to launch one or more new TLDs earlier in the process. This suggests that a careful timetable needs to be developed (the NTEPPTF will propose such a timetable in its final report) that carefully synchronises the launching of any new TLDs with the pace of the evaluation, ensuring that such launches do not occur unless there is reasonable certainty that downstream problems will not arise.
Certainly much of the planning
for new TLDs can be done in parallel with the evaluation, as can much
of the proposal solicitation and selection - provided that proposers understand
the risks of submitting proposals with no guarantee that any will be selected.
The potential for moving ahead faster emphasizes the importance for starting to gather data as soon as possible. Appendix J (for unsponsored gTLDs) and Attachment 21 (for sponsored gTLDs) of the various agreements establish requirements on the new registries for acquiring certain data. It is important that ICANN monitor the new TLDs to ensure that the data is indeed being collected as provided for.
Some of the risks associated with moving ahead too fast include:
Since it may be some time before a thorough evaluation can be completed, the Task Force believes that a monitoring program should be implemented as soon as possible to assess what, if any, impact the new gTLDs are having during their start-up and growth phases. The form of that monitoring program will be part of the Task Force's final recommendations.
The chartering resolution of the Board stated that the Task Force's work should focus on evaluation in the areas of Business, Technical and Legal. The Task Force, however, did not see this as an exclusive list. As such, the Task Force decided that a fourth area needed to be added to ensure a complete evaluation, namely, Process, including the processes followed by ICANN in selecting and negotiating the new TLDs.
The topics included in the proposed four areas can be summarized as follows:
The Task Force has developed a set of questions that it suggests form the basis for evaluation. It has not yet completed its work of assessing which questions are or are not relevant to which phase (see "3 Approach") or which are more or less relevant to sponsored or unsponsored TLDs. Nevertheless, the Task Force seeks community feedback at this interim stage.
In developing these proposed questions to be addressed in the evaluation, the Task Force has borne in mind three principles:
With these principles in hand, the Task Force has distilled the questions down to the following:
It is possible that one or more of the foregoing questions may be rejected by this Task Force as it proceeds towards its Final Report, and in particular as it proceeds to define criteria for each question (see following section). Although the principles for questions enumerated at the beginning of this Section have been generally considered during the Task Force's selection of the questions listed, we cannot state with certainty that a given question complies with the principles until the work on criteria is complete. Certain questions have, however, been rejected because prima facie it is evident to the Task Force that they could not comply with those principles.
(These will be developed once the questions are "finalized".)
(The need for a monitoring program has been suggested earlier in the report. The form of this program will be part of the Task Force's final report.)
(This section will contain the Task Force's recommendations to the Board on how the recommended evaluation should be conducted, and by whom.)
(This section will contain the Task Force's recommendations to the Board on an evaluation timetable, including checkpoints.)
Feedback from the community on this Interim Report is requested by January 15, 2002. Dependent on the nature of this feedback, the Task Force hopes to be able to complete its Final Report by the middle of February for community comment, and expects to submit this Final Report to the Board at the Board meeting in March in Accra.
(To be developed in conjunction
with Final Report of the Task Force.)
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