- New gTLD database
Once registered, you can apply for up to 50 pointless statistics
by Kieren McCarthy | 10 Mar 2012 |
Costa Rica is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever ICANN meetings with anywhere between 1,500 and 75,000 people expected to attend.
Over five days, between 100 and 5,000 sessions will be held in 600 different meetings rooms (or possibly 12). A huge range of topics will be covered - anywhere up to 2,000. It depends. We'll let you know once it over.
Imagine if you went to a supermarket and looked at the price next to the apples: "Fresh Granny Smiths: buy now for between 25 cents and $12.50." You complete your shop. That'll be $3,271.50, please. Sorry, I meant $65.43.
This is the world according to ICANN. It opened applications for new gTLDs on 12 January; it will close them on 12 April. In the meantime, it knows exactly how many applications for particular Internet extensions there are.
And yet for reasons that continue to elude those not living on Planet ICANN, no one is allowed to know what that number is.
Lies, damn lies, and TAS registrants
What we do have is the number of registrations in the application system. But isn't that the same thing? Well, no. Each registration allows for up to 50 actual applications, ICANN keeps reminding us. Some people will apply for one string; some for 50.
But that's not all: multiple applicants are also registering separately for different applications. Some of the time. So there may be overlaps. Then again, there may not. We don't know, but ICANN does.
Currently there are 207 people registered in the system, so we can say with absolute certainty that somewhere between 207 and 10,350 extensions will be applied for. Which is extremely helpful, despite it being the statistical equivalent of arranging to meet someone between 1pm and next Thursday.
Here comes the reasoning...
If ICANN recognizes the value of providing statistics, why not provide an actual useful number rather than track a largely meaningless side-effect?
Of course, there's a good reason for not providing the number of actual applications. It's because… no, no we don't know why. ICANN - help us out - what are you not providing the number of actual applications?
Sorry? What was that?
Nope, didn't catch that.
BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU!
We have in fact asked ICANN formally - twice - what its rationale is for not providing the number of applications. Get this - it won't tell us. It refuses to give a reason!
Which sadly points to the suggestion that ICANN doesn't want to give out the number because… because people actually want to know what it is. ICANN's staff appears to be withholding useful information for no more reason other than the fact that they can.
Having that information would actually be incredibly useful. It would give a gauge of what is going on. It would help hundreds of applicants, many of whom are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars at huge risk to gain a sense of the market they are plunging into. It would enable people to start planning. It would be, dare we say it, transparent and accountable.
And yet the idea of releasing this valuable information before it needs to is anathema to ICANN's staff, and therein lies a very much more troubling problem.
The organization, overrun with work, low on morale, and with senior management chronically incapable of delegating decisions to others (yes, we're looking at you Kurt and John), has slipped right back into the ICANN of 2003-6 - the one where no one was ever given any information, especially if they asked for it.
The simple fact is that there is no good reason not to release ongoing statistics about the number of applications. What's more, it would be a good thing and everyone would be grateful for it.
Until ICANN realizes that, and until it starts serving the community rather than itself, it will remain the organization that no one trusts, the organization that is constantly watching its shadow, the organization that can't win its own IANA contract.
But enough of that, here's a joke.
How many ICANN staff does it take to change a lightbulb? We'll tell you on 1 May.