[r-t] Fwd: Today's explanatory document

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Thu May 26 19:14:39 UTC 2016

If anyone is interested, here is a message I just sent to the Methods

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
Date: Thu, May 26, 2016 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Today's explanatory document
To: CCCBR Methods Committee <methods at cccbr.org.uk>, Peter Niblett <
peter.niblett at btinternet.com>

My attention has just been drawn to


Thank you, it is most helpful to have some explanation of the thinking on
some of these points.

And to reiterate what I've written before, I am in favor of all the
relevant proposals, and appreciate the progress being made.

However, I am still troubled both by the process, and by some of the
details, and find that most of the points I've raised earlier do not seem
to have been addressed by these later explanatory notes.

>From the meta-data in this PDF file it appears to have been created and
posted only this morning (my apologies if I'm misinterpreting this
meta-data, and this document has been available longer and I simply failed
to notice it). This seems woefully late. It really does not allow any time
for serious thought or discussion. I think they really should have
accompanied the motions themselves. Or, as I have commented before, appears
several months earlier to allow public comment and discussion, and possible

I am also troubled that, as far as I can tell, only Council members were
notified of the existence of this document. The Council and its committees
exist to serve the interests of the whole ringing community, not just the
Council's own members. These matters really should be publicised to the
whole community. With modern electronic facilities this is not difficult,
even with this seriously short notice. Though I think it would have been
even better to have included them with the material published by the RW a
few weeks ago.

Regarding the points in section 2.0 of this document:

Change 1. This explanation does not address why only short touches are
allowed for extending the lengths of peals. It does not offer any
explanation for why MEB-like constructions cannot be used. As I raised this
question roughly a month ago, I'm saddened that it is not addressed at all
in this explanatory note published just today. When you discussed these
matters, what was your reasoning for excluding MEB-like constructions,

Change 2. It is good to have an explanation for the rather odd restriction
to only internal places, and not leading or lying.

However, I believe this argument to be deeply flawed. There are already
myriad ways in which similar ambiguities can arise, and bands who want to
do something stupid can do so. For example, there's nothing to stop me from
defining a new Doubles method, and claiming to have rung a peal of it, with
an assortment of complex, pervasive calls, when all I've really rung is a
peal of Bob Doubles. Or to call a carefully constructed and executed extent
of call changes and call it a peal of some new non-method block. But no one
has done these things.

More fundamentally, though, this is exactly the opposite of the Council's
role. The Council should serve ringing by recording what ringers do choose
to ring. Its role is not to stop ringers from doing things that may be
construed by others as foolish.

And this choice is not without repercussions. For example, a band at Our
Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge rang a quarter of spliced two
years ago, constructed using the (non-)method Martyrs Link Major. If this
motion passed on Monday Martyrs Link (3.34) will be a bona fide method,
which is good. However, there is a nearly identical link method, 1.4, which
will not. It seems completely arbitrary that one of these will be a
legitimate method and the other consigned to non-method block status, as
they are nearly identical. Certainly anyone ringing them both will be hard
pressed to say why one is more method-like than the other.

Change 3. This explanation does not address why the motion was cast in such
a complex form to have different requirements for Triples versus higher
stages. Given that roughly two hundred quarters of triples of lengths 1250
through 1259 have been reported on Bellboard in the past decade, it is
clear that such lengths are popular. Why exclude them? Again, this is an
issue I raised roughly a month ago, and am sad to see it remain unaddressed
in your explanation published this morning.

Change 4. This explanation does not address why the motion was cast to
still require an artificial use of two or more different calls to
simultaneously extend and modify the changes of a lead. What was your
thinking to allow only inserting new changes while not modifying any of the
existing ones, please? Again, I raised this point roughly a month ago and
it is disappointing to see it unaddressed in today's explanation.

Change 5. This explanation is as I expected it to be. However, the
underlying objection to ringing a handbell peal of minimus by one person
could just as easily be addressed in other ways. For example by posting a
video of the performance on YouTube. Indeed, this would seem to be an even
better solution to the problem than an umpire. Why was this not considered,
and, again, it is sad that this observation, which I made nearly a month
ago, is not addressed by today's explanation.

Several of the changes described in section 2.0 of the document allow
things that had previously be proscribed, or reclassify methods as bona
fide methods that were previously non-method blocks. The document does not,
as far as I can tell, address the issue, which I again raised earlier, of
what becomes of these extent performances and methods? Are such
performances retroactively recognized, as fairness and good faith would
seem to demand? And how are these suddenly reclassified methods renamed?
And what about methods, such as Caunton, that were previously recognized by
the Council, but then disavowed, but will now be reaccepted? Will they be
added to the collection? It certainly seems that they ought to be.

Finally, regarding motion (H): what mechanism are you planning to use to
communicate while performing this work? While it is highly desirable it be
done, and I strongly applaud this motion, it only makes sense if there is
open and continuous communication throughout the process. If it all happens
in the dark, and is presented as a finished piece of work, I think it
accomplishes little of what is desired. Besides a date by which this work
is done, I think there needs to be a commitment to how the whole
deliberative process is made visible to the wider ringing community.
Perhaps some regular blog posting, or updates to the Committee's web page?
A regular section on Bellboard? A monthly article in the RW, if Robert is
amenable? It is not particularly important what exact mechanism is used,
but there needs to be a commitment to *some* regular communication
mechanism. I do think this is an area in which the Committee does need to
seriously improve. For example, the latest news on your web page is that an
open meeting "will be help" in October of last year. I naively expected
that to be replaced by early November of last year by a description of what
happened at that meeting, but have been sorely disappointed in that!

Again, I want to emphasise that it is encouraging that the Committee is
making more progress than it has in any time in my memory towards serving
the needs of ringers rather than dictating its own tastes to them. However,
there do seem remain serious problems, all of which I think are, at root,
simply symptoms of a lack of engagement and communication with the wider
ringing community. The good news is such problems are not difficult to
solve, and motion (H) provides a wonderful opportunity to make progress in
this area.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"The business of software building isn't really high-tech at all. It's
most of all a business of talking to each other and writing things
down. Those who were making major contributions to the field were more
likely to be its best communicators than its best technicians."
   -- Tom DeMarco, _Why Does Software Cost So Much?_
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