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Improving the Public Comment Feature: An Information Transparency Initiative Update

7 February 2020
By David Olive

Since ICANN’s inception, Public Comment has been a vital part of our multistakeholder model. It provides a mechanism for stakeholders to have their opinions and recommendations formally and publicly documented. Public Comment is an opportunity for the ICANN community to effect change, improve policies and operations, and assist the ICANN Board and the organization in its decision-making processes.

I recently wrote about the adoption of new internal guidelines for Public Comment that codify our current practices. Those guidelines set the stage for the next evolution of our Public Comment process - improving the ICANN.org Public Comment feature.

Over the years, we have heard a lot of feedback from our stakeholders that the current procedure for accessing Open Public Comment Proceedings, submitting Public Comments, and searching previous Public Comments Proceedings and Submissions, is challenging. With the Information Transparency Initiative (ITI), our goal is to improve this crucial feature.

During the development phase of this feature, we convened a small group of community participants who aided us in providing requirements, recommendations, and feedback. Their input has been invaluable, and we thank the group for their time and commitment to helping us prioritize and focus on the most needed improvements.

ICANN Public Comment Feature Improvements

Today, the ITI team released the proposed new Public Comment feature for your input via the ITI feedback site.

The improvements include:

  • Closed Proceedings will be searchable via filters (category and date) or keyword.
  • Submissions will be included in search results.
  • The most recent published Submissions and Reports will be more easily accessible.
  • A count of the number of Public Comment Submissions will be displayed.
  • The Submission process will include a guided form to help with the efficiency of the submission process. Alternative processes like bypassing the form and uploading a Submission as a document or emailing your Submission to the org will also be available.

Accessing and Experimenting with the New Public Comment Feature

When you access the new Public Comment Feature, you will see a new user interface. The Public Comment Proceedings that you will see on the landing page are comprised of test data, so these are not active Proceedings. We created these sample Proceedings, to give you the opportunity to experiment with the new interface and allow you to test out and publish a sample Public Comment Submission using the new format.

In order to publish a sample Public Comment Submission, you will need to log in through what will be ICANN’s Stakeholder Authentication platform. However, during this testing period, you will only need to provide a first name, last name, and email address - a password at this stage is not needed.

When you publish your Submission, you will see your name and Submission.

You will also be able to search for closed Public Comment Proceedings. Because this release is in active development, some older Public Comment files and sections may be missing. All files and content currently on https://icann.org will be migrated and available when the new site is launched.

Please compare the current Public Comment feature with the new release and let us know what you think via the feedback site.

The feedback period will be open until 13 March 2020.

Upcoming Releases

As a reminder, we're aiming for an April 2020 soft launch of the new site. For more information about the soft launch, please read our September 2019 ITI blog.

The existing https://icann.org will remain the definitive site during the soft launch period and will run in parallel to the new site. This soft launch period gives us the opportunity to gather your feedback about many aspects of the improved site and make subsequent updates before we officially retire the current site.

Remember, register your input via the feedback site. The feedback period will be open until 13 March 2020.


David Olive

David Olive