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Overworked ICANN community “at breaking point”, Chehade warns

Kevin Murphy, February 9, 2015, 03:34:54 (UTC), Domain Policy

The volunteers that do the bulk of the policy-development work at ICANN are are suffering from “burnout” and are at “breaking point”, CEO Fadi Chehade said during the opening ceremony of the ICANN 52 public meeting in Singapore today.

“This community — we’re hearing this from many of your leaders — is reaching a bit of burnout. And we in the staff are responsible to support you better so that we can manage the workload that you’re all feeling,” Chehade said.

A session later today will demonstrate some of the tools and processes ICANN plans to put in place to alleviate the load, he said.

Much of the work in ICANN’s supporting organizations is done on a volunteer basis.

ICANN’s tendency to spawn new working groups, roles and committees on an almost fractal basis, and the relative lack of people willing to shoulder the burden of endless teleconferences and sprawling mailing lists, has long been an issue for the community.

Not only does ICANN have to do the work of making DNS policies, it also undergoes a permanent process of self-analysis and review, which eats up time. That has been especially pronounced as ICANN prepares for its probable transition away from US government oversight.

Chehade gave an example of a key community member who showed up uncomplainingly to an important meeting despite suffering a personal tragedy just a day earlier.

“This community is a very unique community. The volunteers that make up ICANN are essentially the spirit of ICANN,” Chehade said. “This is who we are. But this is the beauty of ICANN. This is what makes us very special, and I know that our volunteers are at break-point, but let me tell you, there is no better community.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Acro says:

    “Breaking point”, is an understatement. But not for the reasons Fadi mentions; the issues of domain ownership and domain are paramount.

    It’s urgent that ICANN redefines the ownership of domain names and establishes flawless mechanisms of domain verification to assist with domain theft.

  2. Gaz says:

    They should probably employ a few more people, but I guess budget is tight in a non-profit making organisation like ICANN..(!)

    • Jill says:

      Dont fool yourself……… there is nothing “non-profit” about non-profits. If 100 million per year is not enough money to do whats necessary to avoid people from the brink of a “breaking point” then maybe someone else needs to step in and do it better.

  3. For the MASSIVE amount of money that ICANN collects, they could thank all the volunteers, dismiss them, and then re-hire them for pay.

    Why does an entity that collects the kind of cash that ICANN collects need a single “volunteer” in the first place?

    Clearly their travel budget alone puts the lie to any financial pushback.

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