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ARIN, was Re: 72/8 friendly reminder

  • From: Edward Lewis
  • Date: Thu Mar 24 11:21:05 2005

At 15:17 +0000 3/24/05, wrote:

To begin with, nothing I have to say here has any bearing on the other IRR's. There is a reason there are 4-5 IRRs, each should be tuned to local sensibilities.

However, ARIN today is a very dysfunctional organization.
That is a very brash statement, one that is easily misinterpreted, one that may be simply wrong, or a statement that has an element of truth. The tone of this statement is why I am bothering to reply.

First, distinguish between ARIN staff and ARIN membership.

The staff at ARIN go to great lengths to respond to what the membership - and the public at large - ask ARIN to do. Note - NOT JUST membership. This is why there are open policy discussions, and open mics. (Sessions are webcast, the public policy mailing list is free to join.)

Of course, membership does control the bounds of ARIN's response, including that of the staff, which is why there is also a member-only meeting on the last day of the conference.

ARIN's staff is to fairly and equitably execute the policies that the membership organization has put into play. (I won't split hairs on the Advisory Council or the Board's roles, this can be learned by starting with ARIN's web site,

This has two consequences.

One is that it means the staff should not go and try to set the agenda for how ARIN operates. It it beneficial if the staff is involved to educate the members on the reality of running the registry. It the staff goes further, they are potentially disrupting an otherwise level playing field.

The other consequence is that the membership takes on the responsibility for ARIN's actions. Not the staff's actions, but ARIN's actions. If there is any dysfunction in ARIN, I suspect that it lay here. I do not mean to infer that there is a problem, but I think this is where the largest misunderstanding of ARIN's role exists. I also do not demean the efforts of those who do take the time to participate, they are the ones heading in the "right" direction, no matter whether I agree with the opinions I hear.

One question does haunt me about how the operations community views ARIN. Most ARIN policies are concerned with address allocation, reporting, and such. There are not many policies regarding the functional role ARIN plays in the Internet, the only one that leaps to mind is a lame delegation policy under discussion.

The (haunting) question is whether the operations community feels that there should be operational policies put before ARIN. E.g., support for secure routing - when a concrete approach is defined that needs RIR input, should ARIN play?

Is there a feeling within the operator community that ARIN is...

Most ARIN members seem to view ARIN as a distant regulatory
agency to whom they must regularly burn incense and make
sacrifices in order for the ARIN gods to bestow IP addresses
upon the unworthy network operator. The result is that there
is little participation by ARIN members in monitoring and
governing ARIN. And therefore, ARIN does what it has always
done without changing or innovating.
Oh, that's was where I was going. Is that the case? If so, then there is a dysfunction.

I want to make it clear that any lack of change or innovation is not something that the staff has caused. (By design the staff is in reaction mode.) The lack of change or innovation is the motivation for the haunting question above.

that ARIN carries a big stick like the FCC. The fault is not
with the people involved in ARIN; the fault is with the majority
of IP network operators who do not get involved with ARIN.
I don't like "fault", it implies that there is something seriously broken. For the most part, things are working fairly well. Maybe at the operator level we see ways the world would be much better if we ruled things, but to the general public, the Internet is making things better. (Maybe for just some, but you have to admit overall things are better.)

But, the point is taken that ARIN would be much more "useful" to the Internet if there was a change in participation. However, the improvement is not in the demographics of the participation, but in the content of the participation. If the content of the participation was well-balanced, then the demographics will follow.

After all, if the policies ARIN membership were "perfect" now and into the future, there's no longer a need for the membership to steer the staff. The only thing the staff would have to do is execute the (benevolent, perfect) bureaucracy. ;)

PS - I think my response to Michael is not so much an opposing view, but a slightly different emphasis in where improvements may lie. I really don't think Michael is trying to "stick it to the staff." (I hope he's not.) But a lot of times people confuse the ARIN staff with the ARIN membership organization.

Edward Lewis +1-571-434-5468

Achieving total enlightenment has taught me that ignorance is bliss.

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