Scribe's Notes - FAQ

Berkman Center staff receive numerous questions, suggestions, and inquiries regarding the Scribe's Notes produced during certaion sessions of ICANN meetings. In order to improve understanding of the purpose of the notes as well as the existing mechanisms for making changes to them, we have prepared this FAQ. Please send us further suggestions, or inquiries not addressed here, via the Contact Information section below.

What are Scribe's Notes?
Scribe's Notes reflect the observations of one or more Berkman Center staff members, intending to record the central points of each speaker.

What are Scribe's Notes not?
Scribe's Notes are not intended to transcribe the full text of all comments made. To do so is beyond the ability of our scribes and would produce a text of excessive length for many uses. (However, please note that a full video recording of all scribed sessions is generally available on the web.)

Scribe's Notes are not intended to provide a forum for the substantive advancement of particular perspectives; scribes may not be sensitive to the finer points of preexisting discussions or disputes, and due to the shortness of time inherent in the real-time production of Scribe's Notes, they may not describe all nuanced situations as perfectly as might otherwise be desirable. Similarly, Scribe's Notes are not intended to provide a forum for the advancement of particular documents, or web sites; as a result, external references (to web sites, email addresses, etc.) are generally quite limited.

How can I get the Scribe's Notes to be changed?
In some cases the scribe may not be able to record the comments of speakers as well as he or she would like. In instances where the scribe has been factually inaccurate in recording a speaker's statements, corrections should be submitted electronically via the "Suggest a Change to the Archive" web form (for changes to ICANN-Marina del Rey scribe's notes only). Be sure to fill out this form completely, including the name and email address of the person submitting the request, the name of the speaker, the date and session in which the Scribe's Notes should be changed, the specific point in the Notes where text needs to be changed (or added or removed), and a suggestion as to the specific text to be changed, added,or removed (as applicable). If you are submitting your change request more than 24 hours after the conclusion of a session, please also send a reference to the time in the archived video segment in which the affected comment was made.

Please note that scribes will not be able to enter complete written statements into the Scribe's Notes, nor to make subjective corrections to the Notes (as distinguished from corrections to factual errors).

Please do not attempt to discuss your requested changes with the scribes during a meeting, as doing so will only make it more difficult for them to scribe the speakers who continue to discuss. Please do not attempt to discuss your requests during the breaks between sessions, for during these brief breaks, the scribes are generally busy preparing for the sessions still to come.

I don't think this is the best way to take notes about the meetings. I think you should...
We are genuinely interested in improving openness and archival quality of these meetings, and while we believe scribing represents a significant improvement over any obvious alternative, we remain interested in alternative suggestions. Please send them to us via the Contact Information section below.

We are sensitive to the concern that the Berkman Center's Scribe's Notes should not be the only written notes available. Accordingly, we are pleased to link to "dissent to scribe's notes" or "alternative notes" pages produced by any meeting attendee (in person or via webcast). Please send us such links via the Contact Information section below.

Why are the Scribe's Notes so bad?!?
We have received a few such inquiries, and we thought we might as well answer here for the benefit of everyone interested. It's hard to provide a single answer, but based on experience scribing at several meetings, our staff offers the following explanations ("excuses"?) for subpar notes in certain contexts: Exhaustion (it's not so easy to scribe for hours on end!), confusion (unclear comments from speakers, multiple people talking at once, occasional difficulty understanding non-native English speakers, complex or subtle subject matter), distraction by meeting attendees (one or more meeting attendees demanding the scribe's attention, preventing focus on the current speaker), distraction by technical glitches (scribe computer malfunction, scribe-to-webcast gateway malfunction, other glitches requiring the scribe's attention). Of course, we continue to attempt to improve our systems and procedures, and we are hopeful that these errors will continue to decrease in both frequency and duration.

These reasons occasionally cause us to make certain serious errors -- misattributing comments to incorrect speakers, failing to take any notes at all on a particular comment, or misrepresenting the substance of a comment. In these cases, please follow the procedure above to request a correction.

Where did scribing come from, anyway?
Scribing was developed by the Berkman Center during the IFWP meetings and has been a central part of the Berkman Center's webcasting and remote participation services for ICANN since that time. Scribing is also used in other Berkman Center projects, including courses, special events, and internal meetings.


For additional information, please contact: 
Ben Edelman
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

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