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ARI: digital archery is a lottery and we can prove it

Kevin Murphy, June 19, 2012, 16:05:28 (UTC), Domain Policy

ARI Registry Services has tested ICANN’s digital archery system and concluded that it’s little better than a “lottery”.

The company today released the results of a network latency test that it conducted earlier this month, which it says proves that applicants in North America have a “significant advantage” over others in securing a place in ICANN’s first new gTLD evaluation batch.

ARI basically tried to figure out how important the geographic location of the applicant is on digital archery.

It concluded that the further away you were, there was not only more network latency, as you would expect, but also that the latency became less predictable, making archery less about skill and more about luck.

According to the company (with my emphasis):

The conclusion is simple; the closer an applicant is to the ICANN Data Centre in Virginia, the greater likelihood of repeatable results, allowing a significantly higher chance of calibrating the network latency and thus setting a low Digital Archery time. It is therefore a significant advantage being located as close as possible to ICANN’s Digital Archery target or employing an organisation who is.

It is ARI’s contention that the frequency and size of network changes seen in networks outside North America mean the greatest influence on an applicant’s Digital Archery shot is luck. The further one is from North America, the greater the influence luck has on an applicant’s Digital Archery shot. Those applicants without the resources to access systems or representative organisations within North America are to all intents and purposes, playing a lottery, hoping that latency remains consistent between their calibration tests and their actual shot. The applicant’s ability to influence this game of chance reduces the further they are from North American networks.

While it might read for the most part like a technical white paper, make no mistake: this is a strongly political document.

By putting this information out there and linking it directly to the legally scary word “lottery”, ARI knows that it is putting ICANN in a very uncomfortable position.

The reason ICANN settled upon the digital archery system in the first place — rather than the preferred option of random selection — was because gambling is illegal in California and the organization’s lawyers were worried about nuisance lawsuits.

ARI has, essentially, just given fodder to the kinds of legal vultures that will be thinking about such lawsuits anyway.

The company is one of the strongest opponents of digital archery. In a recent interview with DI, CEO Adrian Kinderis called for batching to be scrapped in favor of a single evaluation period of 10 to 12 months.

You can read ARI’s 19-page report here.

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Comments (10)

  1. Adrian is exactly correct and matches what we have found as well.

    There’s another point. All the new digital archery services are pounding ICANN’s servers with tests, which makes it even more unpredictable. There is nothing skillful about this mess.

    Antony

  2. Please Real says:

    ARI Registry has been trying to discredit this service from the start. Their information is worse than useless. It is very biased.

  3. John Van Hoovering says:

    Its easy to discredit almost any evidence. (see OJ verdict) or almost anyone in prison. Their all innocent. ARI needs to find another hobby.

  4. The ARI review is based on a strange assumption that the applicant will have to do the digital archery clicks from a local server.

    This is obviously untrue – one can control a server remotely and the system from which you do clicks can be located on any continent.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Which would just add another layer of variability to the process, as the delay variance will now interfere with the remote control of the remote control of a virtual machine.

      Having a closer server only makes things better if the clicking is automated with software running on that server.

  5. Certainly! This is what I call “skills”, exactly the element ICANN wanted to bring into the process.

  6. Alex O. S. says:

    If everyone would be using a finger to trigger the click the system would have a human component attached to it and thus (also) depend on the skills (reaction time) of the person doing the click.

    As we all (or most) love automation I would assume that 80% of the clicks will be done using some kind of software.
    If the programer is only partially skilled and did his homework the system will not be affected by time discrepancies between client and server and it would have a compensation for network latencies between the two systems. Those latency is affected by various factors which are way out of control and can at times even vary by +-50ms for those having a server in Virginia.
    ICANNs TAS system is also not really known for it’s good performance. This leads us to two factors which can not be calculated at all: effective latencies and the TAS system load

    In my opinion this is pretty close to how a lottery works and has absolutely nothing to to do with skills.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Network latency can have your odds increased by aborting the try if you feel that network is bad (high jitter) or compensating the latency (if jitter is good is just a matter of adjusting).

      But… my use of the word “odds” in the last sentence proves the point that this as lottery. If someone want to call it a pretty name, “stochastic process” comes to mind.

  7. Derek says:

    Testing revealed that the variability in reported server times was twice as high when shooting for the bulls-eye (00.000 seconds) compared to shooting off the mark (i.e. 07.000 seconds). Conclusive proof that ICANN’s TAS system could not handle the load of applicants testing their system.

  8. Drewbert says:

    “The conclusion is simple; the closer an applicant is to the ICANN Data Centre in Virginia, the greater likelihood of repeatable results, allowing a significantly higher chance of calibrating the network latency and thus setting a low Digital Archery time. It is therefore a significant advantage being located as close as possible to ICANN’s Digital Archery target or employing an organisation who is.”

    That deserves a “no shit Sherlock!”. Anyone whose been involved in the drops knew that from the moment the system was announced.

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