[governance] Muti-stakeholder Group structure (some ideas)

Vittorio Bertola vb at bertola.eu
Fri Jun 1 12:19:46 EDT 2007

Karl Auerbach ha scritto:
> I have much the same concern as you do about "consensus" - I do not see 
> it as a stable or viable approach.  It is a mechanism that is both too 
> subjective, open to manipulation by the one who measures consensus, and 
> can result with the losers feeling unfairly treated and resentful.

Actually, I've seen much more resentment after elections, than after 
consensus calls - at least if the Chairman is fair (you are right about 
the risk of manipulation by the consensus caller, which is why you need 
checks and balances on the selection and decisions of the Chair). The 
last election I was part of ended up with both sides of the discussion 
flaming on their blogs about the results - and it was in a group of less 
than 20 voters... In elections you necessarily have winners and losers, 
while in consensus calls, if done correctly, you have a compromise that 
can distribute (dis)satisfaction fairly to everyone.

> One of the reasons that internet governance has latched onto the idea of 
> "consensus" is that in the IETF it worked (well, it used to work when 
> working groups could fit around a single table, it is not working so 
> well now.)  But the IETF deals with topics that have the nice property 
> that when the power is applied they either work or they emit smoke. 
> (Really - I recently saw smoke come out of a VoIP phone due to a flaw in 
> power-over-ethernet specifications.)
> But we are not dealing with the kinds of issues that the IETF is.  And 
> the IETF has the benefit of a degree of homogeneity - we (IETF) are 
> mainly a bunch of geeky engineers who like Monty Python.

Agree totally on this. It doesn't mean that it can't work in more 
diverse environment, though. The only real problem is, what do you do if 
people are obtrusive and try to prevent any consensus from being 
reached, as they benefit from the status quo.

> Can you imagine the kind of political instability that what could have 
> happened in the US had the 2000 or 2004 elections been measured by 
> "consensus" rather than counted votes?

Which is why, as I suggested in my previous post, representation goes by 
voting, while discussion goes by consensus.
vb.                   Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu   <--------
-------->  finally with a new website at http://bertola.eu/  <--------
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