Re: [CCAMP] The hat trick

John E Drake <> Mon, 28 January 2013 19:40 UTC

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From: John E Drake <>
To: Igor Bryskin <>, "BRUNGARD, DEBORAH A" <>
Thread-Topic: The hat trick
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Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2013 19:37:09 +0000
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Subject: Re: [CCAMP] The hat trick
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I don't think Lou or Adrian would approve of my replying to your email.

Seriously, I think they would be the first to tell you that I have a rather jaundiced opinion of anything they say, regardless of what hat they are wearing.  If you remember, I pushed back against both Lou and Julien regarding their desire to have multiple switching type values for the same switching technology and they eventually agreed.

When listening to a WG chair or AD speak, the trick is to imagine them doing so wearing a dunce hat.

Irrespectively Yours,


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Igor Bryskin []
> Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 8:45 AM
> Cc: CCAMP;; Lou Berger (
> Subject: The hat trick
> John,
> You said:
>           I disagree.  Airing dirty laundry in public is too
> entertaining to stop.
> All right then, here is another topic for you.
> You are very respectable IETFer and seem to be here forever (certainly
> since I can remember myself). I wonder what do you (and other CCAMPers)
> think about these cute little "My hat on/off" statements? That's
> right, the ones that IETF ADs and WG Chairs do with a coquettish smile
> quite often at IETF meetings and on the mailing lists. The assumption
> is, of course, that the things must be said by ADs/Chairs and
> interpreted by the audience differently depending on whether the hat is
> said to be in "on" or "off" position. This is a quite safe and
> reasonable assumption, if one designs a signaling protocol for network
> elements, for which it is possible to set proper filters, program
> processing rules and maintain a separate independent state for each
> conversation. However, ADs, Chairs and the audience are humans, i.e.
> they are not very good at compartmentalizing the information in non-
> overlapping memory spaces. When I, for one, hear or read an
> AD's/Chair's statement, the statement always carries the AD/Chair
> weight.
> Let's take an example. Consider in a middle of a heated technical
> discussion on a CCAMP WG session,  Adrian comes up to the mike and
> makes his hat-off comment. What does this exactly mean? Does it mean
> that Adrian may have a separate hat-on opinion, that is opposite or
> perpendicular to what he just said? I don't think so. The way I see it,
> Adrian, being an excellent expert in many areas, has developed an
> opinion that he genuinely believes may help the discussion.  But, being
> also very professional, Adrian believes that at this level of
> discussion (or for whatever other reasons) it is somewhat inappropriate
> for an AD to influence the discussion. The end result of the statement
> is as follows. I, Igor Bryskin, am sitting in the audience and just
> heard a statement that might very well influence the discussion and its
> outcome. The statement came from Adrian Farrel, who happens to be one
> of the Routing Area ADs (and I don't forget about this for a second) at
> the precise moment when according to Adrian himself it is inappropriate
> for an AD to influence the discussion. I might remember the statement
> for quite a while, and I may communicate the statement to other some 37
> people. What I will immediately forget is what Adrian has said about
> his hat, and this information will be lost on me and these 37 poor
> souls. I am sure that the same happens to most (if not all) of the
> crowd. I have never read, for example,  emails like:
> " Dear Adrian (with your AD hat on)! Thank you very much for your
> thoughtful comments on our draft...." or "Adrian (with his AD hat off)
> suggested to use his favorite LSP_ATTRIBUTES object, but I don't hate
> this idea and since it was suggested with the hat off, I think it is Ok
> to simply ignore the suggestion".
> Nor I remember a conversation like:
> "Igor, listen, I am about to make my XYZ draft last call vote. When Lou
> made this comment on the ASSOCIATION object, could you tell me where
> his hat was?" "Sorry, John, I have to come back to you with that: I
> have to go through the meetings minutes as well as through some 1013
> emails that Lou has posted on the list since then. I am afraid, you
> will be late with your vote"
> Furthermore, ADs and Chairs do not talk just on the sessions and
> mailing lists. There are also private emails, telephone calls, face-to-
> face meetings even bar conversations. Call me a pessimist, but I doubt
> that in all these circumstances ADs/Chairs do not forget to update
> their hat status (especially in the bar). So, the point is that the
> "Hat on/off" thing does not really work as intended, which is not a
> problem per-se. The problem is that intentionally or unintentionally
> this opens up ways for quite unfair play.
> I don't know what you, John, know about football (soccer), but imagine
> a match between two teams - one in red, one in white - and there is a
> guy on the pitch with a hat: when the hat is on, the guy is the umpire
> of the game, when the hat is off, he is a striker for the reds. You can
> imagine a lot of funny things happening in such a game. For example,
> the guy with his umpire hat on can pick up a proper situation and
> moment, stop the game and grant a penalty against whites. Then, with
> the hat off, he can take the penalty and score for the reads. And when
> it looks like the whites are about to score the equalizer, the guy can
> put his umpire hat back, blow the whistle and say: "Time is up, game is
> over, reds won". Fortunately such a thing cannot happen in soccer: not
> only a guy cannot be in the same game an umpire and a player of one of
> the teams, an umpire cannot be associated in any way with one team more
> than with the other (an umpire cannot be even from the same city or
> country as one team but not the other). Why is that? Simple, to ensure
> fair play, so that a better, more deserving team wins and moves into
> the next round, while the bad team loses and gets kicked out of the
> competition. That's what makes soccer such a beautiful game, by far the
> most popular in the world: simple well thought through rules and fair
> play".
> If you don't like my analogy with soccer, consider a criminal case
> trial in the court of law, where the judge is saying something like
> this: " With my judge hat off I have to say that I agree completely
> with the defense. Also in my previous life I was both defense and
> district attorney, and my experience of being involved in such or
> similar cases tells me that in 80% of the cases the defendant ends up
> verdicted as not guilty. Now, with my judge hat back on, please,
> proceed ...."
> You may disagree with any of these analogies, but I hope you see where
> I am getting at. With the hat trick It is quite possible to influence
> the IETF game (which is creating RFCs) with the end result that it is
> possible for poor architectures and bad solutions to make into useless
> RFCs, while for good ideas to be killed and forgotten.
> Here is a simple question: When a WG Chair systematically pushes one
> solution while vigorously fights off an alternative one, does it matter
> whether the Chair is doing this with his hat on or off, considering
> that at the end of the day the Chair is the only one (along with co-
> Chairs) who gets to make a call on rough consensus and hence to decide
> which solution wins?
>  I say, no it does not matter, and this is unfair to you, John, because
> while the Chair can take off his hat at any time, you, as a potential
> (co-)author of the alternative solution, cannot put the WG Chair hat on
> and overrule the call on the consensus. I suggest we nail down the hats
> to AD/Chair heads and outlaw the hat trick to be used as an excuse. In
> my opinion, WG chair is, figuratively speaking, 75% soccer umpire and
> 25% soccer coach, but never a soccer player.
> Does this make sense? Sorry for the long email.
> Cheers,
> Igor