A Time And A Place

Bad Behaviour DFCThis article has been in the pipeline for a number of days. I’ve deliberately allowed that amount of time to pass so I didn’t write an overly emotional piece. I’d also hoped that this article wouldn’t be necessary at all.

An event occurred at the auDA AGM which spoilt what was a very good meeting. It also left me extremely upset and disillusioned.

So what happened was this. I was verbally abused by an auDA Director at the end of the meeting. This was witnessed by another Director – as well as a fellow member.

The Director in question was Simon Johnson – the freshly re-elected Demand Class Director. I went up to him to congratulate him on his success, and said words to the effect of:

“Simon, congratulations on your re-election – 66 votes is a very impressive result. You are a master campaigner. Well done!”.

He reluctantly shook my proffered hand, and then said words to the effect of:

“It’s no thanks to the defamatory crap you have written about me on your blog. You need to be very careful what you write”.

And so he went on in a similar vein for a couple of minutes. It was totally unprofessional, particularly considering the occasion.

Given my initial approach to him, I was gobsmacked by his reaction … as were those around me it seemed.

As is my nature, I fired back at him – and asked him how I had defamed him. He started backing away, and did not giving me specific examples. All he kept saying was that I had said untrue things about him. I told him that I always call “a spade a spade”, and that wouldn’t change. I reminded him that I had offered him the opportunity on more than one occasion to do a guest article / candidate statement on Domainer.com.au; and that he never responded or acknowledged my invitations.

Is This Defamatory?

I’d like to ask my readers if any of these statements are defamatory in their opinion? I don’t think they are, which is why I repeat them here. (Simon, if you think they are, then please instruct your solicitors).

Perhaps it was this article where I said in part:

“This is a most vital election – and I’m hopeful that the majority of Demand Class members (particularly those that are domain investors) will elect two candidates that represent their views. People who are not afraid to stand up and be counted – and who are prepared to engage with their constituencies after they have been elected!

I urge everyone that is interested in the future of the .au space to read all candidate statements before agreeing to sign a “blank proxy”. An incumbent auDA Demand Class Director (who is seeking re-election) was very quick off the mark yesterday – I was told by several people that he had sent them a proxy form urging them to sign and return immediately! As one of my mates told me, he claimed credit for almost everything (he was surprised he didn’t also claim to have invented “sliced bread”). ????”

Or maybe this one:

“Whatever happens on Monday, well done to every one of the candidates who decided to have a go.

Whilst I voted for Simon Johnson at the last election, I’m not going to be voting for him this time around. Why? Because he made absolutely no effort to talk to me this year. He simply didn’t ask me for his vote. I also invited him twice to post a candidate statement on Domainer, and I didn’t even get the courtesy of a reply. That was disappointing. In my opinion, he has also neglected his constituency this past year by refusing to say where he stood on direct registrations. All those things tipped the balance for me.

Good luck to Shane and Tim.”

The Aftermath

Joe Manariti (Supply Director) witnessed Simon’s tirade, and so I asked him if that conduct was acceptable. He also seemed astounded by what he witnessed.

I then reported the incident to Stuart Benjamin (Chairman of auDA). He went out to speak with Simon, and when he came back to me, he said that Simon refused to apologise. Stuart did apologise for what had transpired – however, it’s not the same.

If the Chairman thinks that type of conduct is acceptable, then his recent statements about “cleaning up” what has happened in the past have little meaning about them. It was all supposed to be different under the new regime.

This type of behaviour by Simon at an AGM flies in the face of any corporate code of conduct for Directors that I have ever known.

As I said at the start, I had hoped this article wouldn’t have been necessary, but no apology has been forthcoming. Perhaps they thought I would just forget about it.

What do you think?

Ned O’Meara – 2nd December 2016


Disclaimer 2


18 thoughts on “A Time And A Place

  • December 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Not much has been said about Simon really other than the fact that he refuses to state his position on .au. Seems sitting on the fence actually worked for him.


    • December 3, 2016 at 1:35 am

      @Paul – what worked for him was having the “establishment” vote. Fellow Directors seem to want to look after their own; and he got a lot of votes from these sources (direct and indirect). I’ve got another article in the pipeline about “voting reform”.

      However, as I said right in the beginning, it is not necessarily the most popular candidate who wins, but the most organized. And you have to take your hat off to Simon for that.

  • December 2, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I was impressed by the professional and collegial atmosphere at the AGM. Although people have different views and vested interests, we still all broke bread together and in some cases simply agreed to disagree.

    The incident that you’re referring to is the unfortunate exception to this. It was quite a surprise.

    As I mentioned to you on the day, I don’t think your comments on domainer.com.au are even close to being defamatory. Seeing the excerpts in this article confirms that to me.

    • December 3, 2016 at 1:40 am

      Well said Luke. It was a great atmosphere – and the best AGM I have ever been to – and I have a lot of confidence in Stuart and Cameron moving forward.

      The incident at the end with Simon was akin to an “own goal”. As I said, there is a time and place for everything.

  • December 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I wouldn’t call him a master campaigner.

    He simply fell in front of the supply side members whom are also demand members.

    I would call him a master debater.

  • December 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    That is disappointing.  I don’t see any issues with what you published.

    • December 3, 2016 at 1:47 am

      Not only was it disappointing Rich, but an AGM was simply not the time and place to vent at me. Any other time is fine for both “brickbats and bouquets”.

      The way I’ve been brought up is that at the end of any hard fought contest, you shake each other’s hand, congratulate / commiserate; and then move on.

  • December 2, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Simon has always been up himself.


  • December 2, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    I notice a lot of ex auDA staff, old service providers, ex directors, supply staff/ friends /family / ‘ghosts” all joined up as demand members this year.

    I am of the view membership should be the same as in Canada 1 Free membership per  person where membership is open only to those who actually own a domain name and who subsidize these entities existence. Online forum with all candidate statements posted and Q and A mandatory for candidates.

    Participate in the campaign forum
    The campaign forum in an online platform that facilitates discussions between candidates and members. Get to know the candidates by engaging in discussions about key points in their election platforms, issues affecting the Internet in Canada and abroad. The campaign forum will help you make an informed decision when casting your vote in the board of directors election.

    The forum is open from September 15 to September 22, 2016. Chat with the candidates during a live “Town Hall” on September 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET . This is an ideal time to ask candidates questions and get immediate responses.

    Vote stacking is an issue at auDA. why would Supply staff, family, friends, ex service providers, ex staff, ex directors, ex blog writers auDA used to pay to advertise with want to sign up in demand  now suddenly?


    As for Simon. he has the right to not wish to post anything on the domainer blog or even read it but it would have been great for him to put forward his candidate statement so people did know where he stands especially on the direct registration issue.

    Simon seems to not have needed to participate on domainer to win anyway and he was not alone in not posting a candidate statement or engaging with people or voters.

    I felt a little let down he did not post his latest position for or against the proposed competing additional .au extension.   Seeing as he has already voted for it as a board member I suppose everyone has the answer but we do not know with no candidate statement being provided by him.

    As someone who provided numerous votes for Simon before I would have appreciated him posting a candidate statement and keeping us all in the loop a lot more as he is representing “demand” as a director.  I do know he works extremely hard and several positive changes are due to his passion and  efforts.

    Hopefully Ned you and Simon can make amends sooner rather than later. There is a lot of work to be done so forget it move on from it. Simon may have felt a little put under the spot light  by your post when many other candidates where not pushed the same way  but as you voted for him in the past perhaps you felt you where let down understandably is something you did try to express it seems.

    It could have all been done differently by both of you but in the end he may have his reason for not posting or responding to you. This may include his concerns what he says as a Director. Not many directors posted anything anywhere including any candidate statements.  They maybe have concerns about the .au issue and how they have already voted for it and how they can no change their mind legally etc.


    auDA should run an election forum online next time and all candidates should have to post on it and be open to Q and A.  ( Canada Model)

    I was shocked at the lack of people who attended the AGM and it concerns me it has been stacked for far too long with very little real customers, domain name registrants or demand having a real say.

    I have no idea why so many academics and seemingly “hangers on” turn up who often receive grants, funding, advertising money from auDA etc yet they have no domain names themselves  ( demand) no have they sold any domain names ( supply). This needs changing asap and I think the new CEO is seeing things needed to change from the old days of how auDA was run. ( no leave policy, no expenses policy,  no tendering for major expenses, advertising with companies in breach of certain rules etc)

    auDA, Directorsm auDA Foundation, auGIF etc would not exist without the income from the paying domain name registrants.  They must remember who is actually feeding them and who they need to now need to report better to.

    The government also is not happy from what I hear and auDA is on notice to fix themselves up and quickly including audits, more customer engagement ( domain name registrants) .  removal of certain people, proper processes and accountability.

    • December 3, 2016 at 1:56 am


      “The government also is not happy from what I hear and auDA is on notice to fix themselves up and quickly including audits, more customer engagement ( domain name registrants) .  removal of certain people, proper processes and accountability.”

      This seems a bit like the previous statement you made on November 2nd in the comments section:

      “The unneeded proposed direct .au extension has been cancelled. The new board is expected to make it official very soon. The new board can legally and in line with the relevant corporations law stop it and have it cancelled without any problems.”

      You never did respond to my offer of a bet.

  • December 3, 2016 at 6:35 am

    The new CEO Cameron Boardman should be ashamed by such an outburst. Write to him and make your concerns on the record.

    • December 3, 2016 at 9:21 am

      @Jono – this was suggested by an auDA Director as well. I will do so – not sure what the response will be like though!

  • December 3, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Maybe not defamatory but I don’t think it’s difficult to see that if someone thought those sentences were aimed at oneself then it could ruffle ones feathers.

    People sometimes say and write things at times when heads are hot or tired that in retrospect maybe are better left unsaid.

    Seans sentiments seem wise. Move on and worry about other more pressing issues.

    If auda would like to get more input from domain registrants they could work out a way of getting in touch with people who have registered more than some threshold of domains. Pick some number you think reasonable, maybe 250? Or less anyway just pick a number. Anyone who is responsible for that many domains you would think would have enough experience with the namespace and issues to form an intelligent opinion if presented with facts about changes or improvements to the domain registration systems.

    If people with some reasonable number of domains realized they could have a say in what was happening and that it wasn’t just some beaurocratic process of govt then maybe they would go to meetings or return surveys or make their thoughts known more often.

    Things are improving in many ways from my observation and I hope that continues to be the case.

    • December 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

      @Jeremy – thanks for your post; some good comments.

      There was no ambiguity – those sentences were clearly about Simon. My head was neither “hot” nor “tired” when they were written. Similar thoughts have been expressed by DNTrade members many times. Just calling a spade a spade.

      The whole thrust of my latest article was not about Simon having a go at me – it was how and when he did it. The auDA AGM was neither the time nor place imho.

      Your last sentence is something I concur with … the AGM left me feeling full of confidence. (The previous 5 I have attended were very disappointing for several reasons). However, when I sincerely congratulated Simon on his hard fought win, the reaction / spray I got certainly deflated the balloon!

  • December 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Could just be a speculator hater.

    Lots of those on Regulator boards.

    Get those views known before casting your vote.

  • December 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Ned, you always seem fair and honest in your views, can’t please everyone it seems, not to worry!

    • December 6, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks Rod … I do try (though some people would say that I am “trying”!).

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