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ICANN Clarifying Questions - How to Respond (Part 2 of 3)

John Matson

In the first part of this series on ICANN's impending Clarifying Questions period, I outlined what you can expect in terms of question structure. Here I would like to outline how the points work and provide some advice on how to answer questions for best success.

It's important to understand that ICANN has stated that applicants will not receive clarifying questions unless the application is in danger of not scoring the necessary points in the technical and financial areas.

Let's look at how this breaks down for each section. For technical questions you must score 22 points total, including 1pt on each of the 20 mandatory questions and either 2pts on two of the mandatory questions (26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 39 and 42) or 1pt on the optional technical question (44) and 2pts on one of the mandatory questions. So you will only get questions if your application is deficient on a mandatory question or did not have enough additional points.

Regarding financial scoring you must score 8pts on six questions. This can be done by either scoring one on all six finance questions (45-50) and 2pts on two of the three questions 47, 48 and 49 or score 3pts on question 50.

So in the technical scoring, an applicant will get a clarifying question only if they have not passed a 1pt on all mandatory and/or not scored an additional point on two of the 2pt mandatory or optional questions. Similarly with the financial scoring, if an applicant has not achieved 3pts in question 50 that will trigger 2pt clarifying questions on 47, 48 and 49 in order to pass financial scoring. It should be noted that since ICANN has stated that many applicants have not met the 3pt requirement of question 50 there will be more 2pt questions on 47, 48 and 49.

What about Clarifying Questions that seem to either misunderstand our application or don't seem to consider information that was presented in another question?

Our view is that each applicant has written their application from their own perspective. The ICANN evaluation panel is scoring the application rigorously against the Applicant Guidebook criteria. These are likely two represent different perspectives with different underlying motivations. In any case, we would advise against "arguing" that your application has already covered the point of issue or that the evaluators misunderstood. Rather, you should specifically provide what is asked for in paragraph 3. That said, you should consider an additional communication to ICANN to address any concerns over any fundamental misunderstanding of your application.

While the Clarifying Questions may seem challenging, especially with so much riding on the outcome, a clear and specific response to the paragraph 3 is critical to success.

The next post will be specific observations on Question 50 and the LOC and Escrow Agreement language.

By John Matson, Co-Founder and COO of Architelos. Mr. Matson has advised Fortune 500 companies on cost structures, margin enhancement and implementation of new growth-oriented business models. He has performed several projects for ICANN, including advising on the new gTLD program and benchmarking previous gTLD launches. Architelos provides Top-Level Domain (TLD) application guidance and front-office services for clients in the DNS and IP industry. Mr. Matson can be reached directly at jmatson@architelos.com.

Related topics: ICANN, Top-Level Domains

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