Re: Hum theatre

Pete Resnick <> Thu, 07 November 2013 07:21 UTC

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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2013 23:21:06 -0800
From: Pete Resnick <>
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To: Randy Bush <>
Subject: Re: Hum theatre
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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? 

Pete Resnick<>
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. - +1 (858)651-4478