While ICANN staff acknowledged that digital archery was perceived as “silly”, it told the board of directors that it was “straightforward” and “unambiguous and easy to execute”.
That’s according to the latest delayed release of meeting minutes and briefing documents detailing board-level discussions between the Costa Rica and Prague meetings.
There was significant debate at the board level about digital archery prior to its approval in March, with directors generally favoring an auction model instead, these documents reveal.
Back in March, the board of directors’ new gTLD program committee was presented with a strong case in favor of archery by ICANN staff.
According to March 28 briefing document (pdf):
Implementation of the auction model at this late date presents significant risk of: program delay, legal action and significant reputational impact as described below. Board working group members tend to agree with this viewpoint but there is a split of opinion. The digital archery model presents minor risks; primarily a minor reputational risk from the perceived awkwardness of the model.
Analysis indicates that the legal risk raised by a random selection program will be satisfactorily addressed. This is true even though the results appear to have an element of randomness.
Implementation of the digital archery model is essentially completed. It presents no schedule risk. Its operation is straightforward.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it reveals in this case that digital archery was far from straightforward in its operation, and did in fact present schedule risk.
The new gTLD program is currently in semi-limbo while ICANN tries to figure out a way to sequence the processing of applications in a fair and timely way.
Other documents published following Prague include the lengthy minutes of a May 29 committee meeting at which directors argued with staff about how to geographically weight batches.
Staff pushed for a proportional system – where if 10% of applications came from a specific region, 10% of the first batch would be drawn from that region – the minutes reveal.
But several directors argued and won the case for the “round robin” scenario, which would have given advantage to applicants from under-represented regions instead.
Newly published minutes from May 6 also reveal that ICANN considered offering 1% interest on refunds to applicants that withdrew their applications before Reveal Day.