Re: Hum theatre

Richard Barnes <> Thu, 07 November 2013 09:36 UTC

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Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2013 01:36:04 -0800
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Subject: Re: Hum theatre
From: Richard Barnes <>
To: Pete Resnick <>
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Cc: Tim Bray <>, Dave CROCKER <>, IETF Discussion <>
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Hey Pete,

Like Randy, I sense a fair degree of process omphaloskepsis here.

A wise person once told me that any consensus is judged at a point in space
and time, and this one sure was.   What you're saying is that it is
impossible for the consensus of the IETF to be estimated in plenary
session, and that it requires some specially anointed person (not of the
IAB) to judge that consensus.  Neither argument seems to me like it would
really sway the outcome of this decision -- I find it highly doubtful that
the outcome would have been different if some member of the IESG had asked
the same question.

These consensus calls seem to have captured the high-level consensus of the
IETF, as gathered in plenary at this meeting.  Yes, there was argument
about more specific details at the PERPASS meeting, but I don't think that
invalidates the more general agreement.


On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 11:21 PM, Pete Resnick <>wrote;wrote:

> Some folks approached me after the plenary and asked me why I objected so
> loudly to these "taking of hums". Tim's response pretty well explains it:
> On 11/6/13 6:58 PM, Randy Bush wrote:
>  On 11/6/13 6:50 PM, Tim Bray wrote:
>>> You’re entitled to your opinion, but I entirely disagree. I thought each
>>> of those made an important point and highlighted some areas where consensus
>>> is broadly held. I appreciated Russ’ composition of the issues and think he
>>> deserves our thanks.
>> the feeling of those present was pretty clear.
> Yes, the feeling of those present was pretty clear. And if Russ had only
> asked for the feeling of those present, I probably wouldn't have been
> torqued. I would have, like Dave described it, thought it a bit of
> political theater, but otherwise said "Whatever".
> But Russ didn't ask for a "feeling". Russ said that he was asking about
> consensus, and Tim heard that the result of those hums *were* the IETF
> coming to consensus. And that's just bogus. There was no consensus, and
> some of this I think is really damaging to the IETF.
> Look at a couple of these:
> On 11/6/13 12:41 PM, Russ Housley wrote:
>> 1.  The IETF is willing to respond to the pervasive surveillance attack?
>>      Overwhelming YES.  Silence for NO.
> This was "The IETF wants to save the lives of bunnies." Press release
> nonsense. And surely so much mush as not to be consensus. Just let's
> everybody applaud. OK, who cares, but not useful.
>  3. The IETF should include encryption, even outside authentication, where
>> practical.
>>      Strong YES.  Silence for NO.
> So if you sat in perpass, you'll know that the result of this hum was
> rubbish. There were a bunch of people up at the mic in perpass who objected
> strenuously to this. There was no IETF consensus on this point. But if you
> took the result of the bogus hum as consensus, you'd sure think so. And
> that happened because Russ loaded the deck in the way he asked the question
> to make sure that nobody would hum against it. He asked it at the end when
> it was clear there would be no discussion of dissent, so that people who
> might have objected felt comfortable that at least they'd have a chance to
> explain themselves instead of looking like idiots humming against
> motherhood and apple pie. Pure nonsense.
> This wasn't about getting consensus. This was about everybody feeling good
> about themselves and being able to applaud. And if anyone tries to enforce
> any of these things as consensus of the IETF (e.g., "Sorry; we had a hum
> and there was consensus that we're doing encryption without authentication
> whether you'd like to or not, so you're in the rough"), that should be
> appealed immediately.
> This is vote stuffing in the extreme. It's ignoring (heck, it's actively
> suppressing) minority voices. It makes a joke of coming to consensus at all.
> And all that said, since when does the IAB judge the consensus of the
> IETF? Not since 1992, as far as I remember.
> I don't disagree with any of the statements per se. As Scott Brim pointed
> out, the statements were incredibly general and left all sorts of stuff
> undefined, so it's hard to know exactly what I'm signing up to by agreeing
> with them. But again, it's motherhood and apple pie for most of them. (The
> second might have been interesting if it weren't buried in the middle of
> the rest.) And it made for fine press. But IETF consensus? Bullpucky.
> pr
> --
> Pete Resnick<>
> Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. - +1 (858)651-4478