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RIPE NCC Services Working Group
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(Continuation)
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28 October 2020
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5 p.m. (CET)

KURTIS LINDQVIST: Welcome back everyone. We're on the hour, so I guess we'll ‑‑ it's time to get started again.
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First up after the break we have Fergal, who is the Acting Communications Director, who will present on the RIPE NCC language support.

FERGAL CUNNINGHAM: Hello, everyone. I am going to give you a quick presentation on what the RIPE NCC is doing with language support and what we're planning to do.
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To give you a bit of background, and before I scare anybody, English is our working language and it will remain so. So it's kind of important to make that clear before I go ahead with this.
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But support in other languages has been requested for a long time. Ever since I have been at the RIPE NCC this has come up in your our surveys; especially the further we get away from northern Europe, this becomes a bit more of an issue. Now, last year we did our big survey and we got about 2,000 responses in languages other than English. This was the first time we did this, and the reaction to this was really very positive and strong from the people who were able to answer in those languages.
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So ‑‑ and, where possible, we already do provide support in other languages and we want to do more.
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So what do we currently do? At the moment, we just have four texts on ripe.net. These are PDFs in Arabic and Russian. They are kind of general, they are about the RIPE NCC, becoming a member and getting resources and transferring resources. But we have a very diverse staff at the NCC, we have about 50 nationalities and they provide a lot of language support where they can. So, member requests, assisted registry checks. Where people have need of language support and where we are able to provide it, we do that. We really want to step in and help there.
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We also present at events and training courses, where possible. This particularly happens at NOG events. We translate country reports and we have local staff in the MENOG and ENOG regions.
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Now, RIPE Stat has hard coded elements that are translatable and there is actual RIPE Stat demo at lunchtime tomorrow that I really urge you to go to. There is some language option there is that I I think they'll be demoing, and we do some invoicing in Russian as well.
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Why do more? Well, we have 76 countries in our service region, and when you look at the English proficiency levels, they range from very high in northern Europe to the moderate and lower throughout the service region. You can see the size of our service region here. I know this map is interesting to some who are attending. And they have many recent members from across that service region. And we really want to engage with everybody and we value the participation and involvement from everybody across our service region. And we think the language support is one way that we can help lower the barriers to engagement for our members and in the community more generally.
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Also, the language of our industry, if I'm honest, if you don't speak English very well, it's not that easy to navigate. It's very technical, there is a lot of jargons, and if you read discussions, there are more idioms than you can shake a stick at. And also our survey results, when I look at them, they were very positive results, and the general impression you could get is that we like what the NCC is providing, but for many people they just don't know enough about what we do. And I think translations can really reduce the burden on staff.
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We do have to deal with a lot of people who would like a language support and by having some translations, we can let our staff help those people in a much easier way. So we can also increase the awareness of our services and support better operations more generally for people who can understand what we're doing more clearly.
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Now, what does "more" mean? I have noted that we have four broad translations on our website but we want to move to a much more comprehensive and specific set of translated material because, at the end of the day, broad is nice, but for people who want to actually interact with us and use our services, then specific is important.
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So, we're looking at really boosting the amount of translated materials on our website to cover most of our membership interactions, our information services, everything about being a member, using things like the LIR portal, and also developments in the membership.
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We're looking at community involvement, where appropriate, and having country‑specific content translated into local languages. If you look at RIPE Labs, we often have articles that are about specific country incidents and things like this, and we think it's valuable to translate the material into the language of that country, because these are probably the most interested readers.
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We'd like to do more video and audio content and this is an easy way for us with our staff to provide content in non‑English languages, and we're looking to use translation technology, if it's appropriate to do so, which do have some principles. Our English version should always take precedence. This is important for us.
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Also community documents are out of scope. The RIPE NCC doesn't own the community documents and we don't want to play with those in any way. And also, we think that translating directly any of our legal documentations is quite an unwise approach. But this doesn't mean that we can't have translations that, for instance, explain what's in a legal document or what people are agreeing to in our legal documentation.
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We believe our ability to provide effective services should not depend on translations. And rather, the focus should be on increasing understanding of the interactions that members need to carry out their operations, and also, reducing the barriers to engagement, as I said.
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Where we provide translations we also want to give clear reasoning for choosing languages as well as the content.
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So the main questions we ask when we're choosing languages are:

Will it cover a significant number of members and stakeholders?
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Will it increase engagement with a large group?
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And will our staff see that choosing a language will improve member interactions?
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So, with these in mind, we're proposing to do more translations on our website in Russian and Arabic, which cover several countries each. Turkish and Farsi, because we see a need for greater engagement in Turkey and Iran, and also Spanish and Italian are what our staff see as two languages where members are asking for more support and we think this is something that can actually help our staff and the members in Spain and Italy.
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There are obvious difficulties. Ensuring accuracy is one. Resourcing and costs, we're not looking to spend a lot of money here, and we don't have the resources to do all our content in all the languages in our service region, so we need to be very careful about this.
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We also need to be careful about raising expectations, as I know that we already do quite a lot. So possibly there are some expectations, but we need to be very careful to make clear to people that we're translating what we can and we can't translate everything.
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And we also need to make this easier for ourselves, which means looking at the content again in English and making sure it's content that's easy for us to translate.
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So we do need to establish good processes and we need to monitor the impact of the translations where possible to see if people are actually reading them, if our staff are using them and if we get good feedback from the community.
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So, some final thoughts.
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It's very possible you think this presentation is not for you, because if you are listening to an Irish guy do English language slides, probably you don't need language support. But I think this topic is very much for you. I see language support as a stepping stone. I think by translating specific materials, I think it opens the door for new voices, new opinions and new involvement. If people can understand what we're doing, as a membership and a community and as the NCC, I think that's a real gateway into greater involvement. And increased participation is good for all of us.
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Inclusion and geographic diversity is also important for the development of the membership and the community. So I think, in general, by making more efforts in this area, by providing something that will be of use to many of the people in our membership and community, I think we can do a lot of good work here.
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And that's it from me.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: Thanks, Fergal. Any questions for Fergal?

ROB EVANS: I don't see any so far.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: No questions. Well, if there are no questions, then thank you very much, Fergal.

ROB EVANS: Oh, we do have Brian Nisbet of HEAnet saying that he'd like to say that: This is a great initiative and I look forward to it expanding where possible. We have got Daniel and Benedikt.

DANIEL KARRENBERG: Hello. Have you considered actually expanding the number of languages by using volunteers from the community? Question one.
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Question two: Have you considered getting feedback from the community itself about choosing which languages and not have that done sort of by executive...

FERGAL CUNNINGHAM: On the first one of the community engagement, this is something we have considered. I know RIPE Atlas has already sourcing translations on GitHub and that's something that should be published in the RIPE Labs shortly and we're also looking at it in relation to the RIPE Stat thing, but absolutely, community involvement is important if we're going to be clever about how we use our resources here and I think it's something actually the process of getting the community involved can really help with engagement, I think is a good thing.
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The second point, I think it already is based on the feedback we have got, Daniel. I mean, we have been doing surveys here for ‑‑ in 13 years since I have been there I have been involved in those and I have seen the feedback we have got. We have staff who go out and talk and staff who deal with the members on a daily basis who have given us their feedback on what they see as the languages and countries where they are getting the most language requests. So I do see it and the reason we're presenting here is so that we can get feedback on this as well.
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So I'm happy to get any feedback on languages as well. But the six that we have identified are the ones that we have identified based on feedback and based on what staff are seeing coming from the members and community.

DANIEL KARRENBERG: Thank you, Fergal.

BENEDIKT STOCKEBRAND: Just one comment. I think it's a really, really good idea to move this way, but what I think you might also consider is trying to use some ‑‑ to check the existing documents, that they are in English, that is easy to understand for somebody who is not a very comfortable English speaker. That might ‑‑ I'm not going to say don't translate things, don't get me wrong there. But eventually we will have things like the legal stuff that has to be in English because you can't possibly translate it in every language, and so maintain the same meaning in difference ‑‑ anyway, it doesn't matter. But sorting out that language is easily understandable for somebody who is not a native speaker also speaking English is probably well worth additional thing to do in this context.

FERGAL CUNNINGHAM: Thank you, Benedikt. I think I noted this in one of my slides as well that simplifying our English is a bit of a key thing in this. We have had a project going internally for the last year or so to look at all the language on our website in the IPs and ASN section so we have already started to move to a much more, a philosophy of put down what's important and what actually helps people to do stuff, rather than giving a big pile of ‑‑ like explanatory information and history and background, just get to the basics and get some really good simple core English. But also for the legal stuff, we don't really want to directly translate the legal documentation. We really find that could be tricky and we rather give a good explanation of what people are agreeing to in the English language legal contracts that they sign. But I do take those points and they are very good points, yeah.
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Also, I intend to be on SpatialChat all tomorrow morning if anyone wants to talk languages with me, I'll probably hang out in the lounge.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: The first time doing a video conference. So, thank you for that, that was all the questions. So, then next up is a report from the RIPE NCC Executive Board election task force by Sergey Myasoedov. So over to you.
We can't hear you. We can't hear you unfortunately. You are very, very faint. There are some suggestions that you are on the wrong air pods.
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KURTIS LINDQVIST: Right ‑‑ he is back. That sounds much better, I can hear you typing, clearly the microphone is working.

SERGEY MYASEODOV: Thank you. Good. Is that better now? Good evening, everyone. My name is Sergey and I am going to talk about the results of the task force that was preparing the changes to the RIPE NCC Executive Board election.
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How did it start? In May 2020, there was an unusual election campaign, because the attendants of the General Meeting significantly increased, probably due to Covid‑19 changes and moving the whole RIPE meeting, including the GM, to the virtual format.
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After the elections, many RIPE NCC members were requesting the Executive Board, as well as the management, to change the elections procedure. In previous elections, the RIPE NCC members have treated the lack of strict rules with understanding, but in May 2020 it was so specific, and, after the elections, the Executive Board decided to create the ad hoc task force in order to produce recommendations from the membership.
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In June 2020, the Executive Board sent out the invitation to join the task force to Members' Discuss mailing list. Nine people responded to this invitation and all nine have formed the task force. The Executive Board offered me to be Chairperson for the task force. While we were sending some mails in July during this setup, even before the mailing list started, one of the task force members started a conflict with others and declined to follow the Code of Conduct. You have probably noted some such activities in the Members Discussed.
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The majority of the task force members requested some actions and I decided to dismiss the member from the task force using the mandate given by the Executive Board.
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Later on the first meeting of the task force, the decision was agreed by seven task force members, everybody except myself. One Executive Board represented a view of the RIPE NCC also during the task force meeting.
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The task force members were experienced enough in the cooperative work so it wasn't difficult to decide to use the familiar way of consensus‑based decision‑making. We also decided to set up a mailing list and publish it. Now the archive is open and you may see it, the URL is on the screen.
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What have we discussed? During the first meeting, we were talking first of all on the possible method of implementation of our recommendations; in other words, if it is necessary to perform amendments to the RIPE NCC article of association, and pretty fast we came to a conclusion that there is no other way than to amend AOA, so we were working together with the RIPE NCC chief legal officer, and we have also understanded that we have only a short time to prepare the changes to be presented at the October GM.
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We were discussing issues of the candidates, nomination, new formal requirements for the candidates, which can be specified in the Articles of Association. Then elections, campaign and every possible change that the RIPE NCC members would like to see.
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We agreed to recommend to implement the following changes:
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Candidates' identification. This was the very first simple decision. Then candidates should formally agree to the nomination and provide their identification document. We recommended to standardise the candidates' biographies, publish them. The candidates' list should be also randomly sorted for the publication on the website and in the ballot. Elections campaign and discussion should be moved to the separate mailing list. And candidates should have a possibility of interactive communication with the authors; for example, in the informative webinar. And, finally, the candidates should adhere to the Code of Conduct. The [] [violation] of it should cause disqualification of the candidate.
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We have agreed on candidates should not provide their criminal records. Candidates should not inform about the reputational risks that the RIPE NCC could face after taking ‑‑ exhibiting more (something) by the candidate.
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We haven't agreed that candidates should comply to their function and ‑‑ functions and expectations of the Executive Board member document. And some committee, like NomCom, should verify the compliance to the Executive Board position. We haven't recommended any changes on the proxy vote in principles, knowledge of the English language should not be a formal criteria for the candidate as well as prior activity of the candidate as in RIPE or RIPE NCC.
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What have we done?
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We met three times online. As a result, we prepared a draft report and then passed it to the Executive Board. After the feedback, we made some final changes and the RIPE NCC has published the report.
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The URL is also on the screen.
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Based on our reports, the RIPE NCC Executive Board, together with the legal department, proposed an amendment to the RIPE NCC Articles of Association. I also hope that other recommendations that formally not required to amend the AOA will also be implemented, but it will be better if the Executive Board will tell more about this.
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I would like to thank all the task force members and the RIPE NCC staff here on the slide. The authors are on the right side and the RIPE NCC staff are on the right side.
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Thank you all.
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And this is it from me. Thank you for listening.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: Thank you, Sergey. Any questions?

ROB EVANS: Whilst people queue up for the questions, I am going to insert myself in the microphone line, if that's okay.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: You get to go first then.

ROB EVANS: Sergey, in the report you suggest that the trusted contacts, or at least the trusted contacts who aren't employed by the RIPE NCC, are the appropriate group to decide whether a candidate has breached the Code of Conduct. Now, is that actually one person? Did you approach the trusted contacts?

SERGEY MYASEODOV: No, we didn't approach them.

ROB EVANS: Because, I kind of think that if the word of a trusted contact is that of a confidant, asking us to make a public declaration on whether you believe someone has breached the Code of Conduct, which may be a politically‑charged decision, I'm not entirely sure that's appropriate, in my opinion.

SERGEY MYASEODOV: You may be right, but anyway, we need to have someone from the community who can decide whether or not the policy or the Code of Conduct breached. So this is also mentioned in the report that trusted contacts should be viewed again by the Executive Board, together with the membership.

ROB EVANS: Okay. Thank you.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: Any other questions?

ROB EVANS: I don't see any at the moment.
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KURTIS LINDQVIST: Okay. Thank you very much, Sergey, for that. Well done.
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That brings us to the last agenda item, which is the open microphone. And that's the chance for anyone in the community to bring questions to the NCC really on topics of this ‑‑ well, on the services of the NCC. So, we'll see if we have any takers for the open microphone. It doesn't look like it.
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In that case, I think we have a first in the history of the NCC Services Working Group, is that we are going to finish 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which I have to say I'm not quite sure when that happened, but that's very good.
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So, with that, we are done ‑‑ I see Fergal has come up.

FERGAL CUNNINGHAM: Sorry, Kurtis. I just wanted to let people know that if you are joining the GM, they were e‑mailed a link to a different Meetecho location about an hour ago. So, everyone, please know that this is not the Meetecho for the GM, that you should have got a link for the other one. Sorry, Kurtis, I just wanted to throw that in.

KURTIS LINDQVIST: That's a good point. We won't be chasing you out of this room. If you are heading for the GM, please look for an e‑mail in your folder and we will see you over at that at 6 o'clock. So you have a bit of a break and we'll see you over there. Thank you all. Have a good day.

LIVE CAPTIONING BY
MARY McKEON, RMR, CRR, CBC
DUBLIN, IRELAND.