On Saturday morning, someone posted a comment on my site which reflected their opinion in relation to a recent article I wrote entitled “Come On auDA – Please Be Accountable”.
Without going into all the details, the gist of their comment was that they were unhappy with the whole process of direct registrations. They lambasted the current survey being conducted on behalf of auDA; as well as expressing their opinion that a current auDA Director had a potential conflict of interest (given his day job of being Director Product Management at Neustar, Inc. (they purchased AusRegistry last year).
For those not in the know, AusRegistry is the current Registry Operator, and they manage all current and open second level .au Domain Names, including: .com.au, .net.au, .id.au, .asn.au and .org.au. They also manage the restricted government (.gov.au) and education Domain Names (.edu.au).
Blogs and forums that relate to domain names in Australia have fired up over direct registrations in the past 12 months. There have been many points of view expressed on both sides of the fence – and as you would expect, sometimes opinions have also been quite colourful! No different on my blog; or that of DNTrade.
What Happened Next
I received an email at 10.15am on Saturday from George Pongas (sent to both my “Domainer” email address; as well as the email I used for the auDA Names Panel).
The subject heading was all in caps; and read thus:
CONCERNS NOTICE: PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL NOT FOR PUBLICATION
In essence, he “informed” me that he felt that the comments made by the poster were defamatory to him in his capacity as an auDA Director, and amongst other things said:
I require that this post be removed immediately. Please confirm in writing by no later than 4:00PM (AEST) today Saturday, 9 April 2016 that this has been actioned.
I reserve all of my rights at law, including the right to seek damages, legal costs and including the identity of the individual posting under the alias handle ‘——‘.
This is a Concerns Notice for the purposes of section 14 of the Defamation Act 2005 (Victoria).
Wow! Talk about over-kill. I’d never received one of these before.
So I assessed the situation, and decided to delete the comment on the basis that it contained some fairly colourful language and opinions. I certainly didn’t think it was defamatory though. What I was encouraged by was the fact that George was actually reading my blog – and I thought that there was an opportunity to engage him on the subject of direct registrations (for the benefit of my readers)!
So I sent him this email at 12.11pm on Saturday:
Thanks for your email. Sorry I couldn’t respond sooner, but I’ve been out buying a car for my son.
I’ve just read that particular post, and whilst I think you are being particularly oversensitive, I have deleted it as a gesture of goodwill.
Having done so, I do not believe that it was defamatory – it was simply stating an opinion and point of view.
You know as well as I do that emotions are running high on the subject of direct registrations, and many people (particularly my constituent readership) have robust points of view. Including yourself. 🙂
In my opinion, you would be better served by responding to that post, and giving your point of view. You are never backward in coming forward. Let me know if you want to do that.
Alternatively, I would be happy for you to author a guest article on Domainer.com.au which outlines why you believe in direct registrations – and to refute any perceptions people may have. Over to you.
The only response I got back from George was a “one liner” sent from his phone at 2.08pm:
I note you have removed the post.
So much for any potential engagement! 😉
However, I do live in hope. The invitation remains open.
And Then …
I cogitated over this issue overnight, and I woke up really peed off.
I’ve known George in different roles over about 8 years, and have always liked him. He’s a determined individual, and someone who strives to succeed in whatever he is doing.
However, I experienced a different side to George during the Names Panel process. I had a difference of opinion with him, and things deteriorated from there. We exchanged some emails, and I felt then that he was trying to bully me. Whilst we tried to patch things up subsequently, there was always the “elephant in the room”.
That’s why I have decided to publish this article. I won’t be bullied or intimidated.
Domainer.com.au allows me the opportunity to write about all things concerning domains. I’m an extremely positive person by nature, however I’m never afraid to “call a spade a spade”. I’ve written many positive things about auDA, but I’ve also on occasion taken them to task. That’s how I see my role as a blogger. Without fear or favour.
In this instance, I choose to constructively criticize what I believe is an unsatisfactory approach by auDA to the issue of potential direct registrations. It also allows others to have their say.
My main concern (which I have expressed ad infinitum) is that the majority of the 1.7 million individual .au registrants have not been properly consulted about the pros and cons of direct registrations. Read this.
The second concern I have is that I don’t know who’s doing what at auDA at the moment (with regards direct registrations). The reason being is that we’re all in the dark – no Minutes have been published for either the December 14 or February 15 Board Meetings. That’s why I wrote to auDA and published this as an open letter.
Potential Or Perceived Conflicts Of Interest?
Tomorrow I’m going to give my thoughts on this.
The fact is people on both sides of the argument of direct registrations are potentially conflicted – however, in my opinion, some people have the opportunity to wield power and exercise influence, whilst others don’t. That’s where I believe it can become unfair.