[r-t] Methods Committee proposed proposed changes

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Thu Mar 16 23:36:09 UTC 2017

While Tim Barnes has posted this to the RT-Rules subgroup, I think this
merits wider dissemination, as I suspect many who haven't been interested
in the detailed discussions may still be interested in this. The Methods
Committee has now posted on the CCCBR web site a precis of some changes it
expects to propose at this year's Central Council meeting, as well as its
plans for the following year. It is at


though it may be better to go to


as that provides a little more context.

I urge everyone who's interested to read and comment on it.

For whatever it's worth, appended below is the message I sent to the
committee expressing my own views. In summary they are that (a) the few
things proposed to be proposed are probably fine and worthy of support,
though it is difficult to say for certainty as they have not actually
presented concrete proposals; and (b) that they, and especially the plans
for next year, don't go nearly far enough.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
Date: T​​hu, Mar 16, 2017 at 7:25 PM
Subject: Response to the 2017 consultation
To: CCCBR Methods Committee <methods at cccbr.org.uk>

I read with interest the consultation document that has recently appeared
on the Methods Committee's page of the Council's web site. Here are my

Regarding the proposals for 2017:

Since you have not included the actual text of your proposals it is, of
course, impossible for me to comment on them meaningfully. I will do so
once you have distributed them. That said, I wholeheartedly support the
goals of the four proposed proposals. All are long overdue. But the devil
is in the details, and without seeing the actual wording it is not at all
clear how much of an improvement the changes will actually be.

For example, will the changes be made by reducing the size of the existing
decisions, as they should? Will Change 3D be implemented by removing
restrictions and the language in which they are couched? Or will it
instead, sadly, be implemented by adding yet more special cases and
additional sentences? Or you allude to "a definition of what a simulator
is, and specify the minimum amount of human interaction"--this seems a
fruitful opportunity for unintended consequences, for which it would be
most helpful to see what, exactly, it is that is being proposed.

While I applaud the goals of these four proposed proposals, I am deeply
disappointed both in their tiny scope, and in their sketchy presentation.
The existing decisions are a large, convoluted mess of rules from the past
hundred years, that have been amended will-nilly, and are long past the
point they need to be completely replaced. Yet there is no evidence of any
recognition of that fact, or effort towards accomplishing the long overdue
correction. Last year, at the very last minute, a small collection of
pressing amendments were produced. While all were improvements, they merely
delayed the long needed overhaul another year. Along with them came a
promise to do better this year. Yet this year, it is the same thing yet
again. Far too little is being proposed, and, of course, that is as it must
be because it is all being proposed far too late. Had proposals been made
in this past winter, as promised, far more could have been accomplished.

Regarding 2018 and beyond:

Regarding use of the identity change: I VERY STRONGLY suggest not referring
to this as the "null change", but rather as the "identity change". For
reasons I do not understand the words "null change" provoke an intemperate,
visceral reaction having nothing to do with the topic of discussion: "null
change" seems to be interpreted by many as something that it is not. The
use of "identity change" also has the advantage of being closer to typical
use in other spheres of endeavor that deal with permutations.

In general, I am sorely disappointed with the proposal for next year's
work, on two grounds:

- It does not go far enough.

- It appears to yet again be just tweaking, amending, and adding to the
existing overly large and complex mass of decisions, rather than creating a
new framework, as needs to be done.

Most of the items you propose addressing I wholeheartedly support. However,
they should not be addressed piecemeal. They should instead be incorporated
from the ground up in a new, tighter, more coherent, and less prescriptive
framework. Addressing them piecemeal just adds to the problems that need

Regarding reporting, be careful not to tie the wording to exactly the
technology that exists today. I should be possibly for the technology to
evolve without requiring the Council to change its decision every time that
technology moves on.

Regarding "compliance", I think the whole notion of "requirements for
peals" is completely misguided. The goal of the Council should be to record
what ringers choose to do, not to make requirements they may or may not
adhere to. I am vehemently opposed to your Option 2: anything that
establishes a two-tier system invariably results in some peals traveling
first class and others steerage. Of the options you enumerate, certainly
Option 3 is the best.

It is ludicrous to completely defer addressing jump changes. Methods
containing jump changes are rung today. To pretend that those ringing such
things are not performing change ringing is absurd. If folks want to
include extents of such methods in peals, there should be no impediment.
Yes, of course, the detailed categorization that has been done with
non-jump-change methods would be difficult to apply to methods with jump
changes; don't even try. There is no need yet for a detailed taxonomy
(indeed, I would argue there is too much taxonomy for non-jump-change
methods already). Simply recognize that they are possible and ensure any
proposed, overall framework doesn't disallow them. It needn't go to any
great depth in dealing with them, but don't pretend they don't exist. The

I am strongly in favor of allowing folks to start or end peals in
interesting ways if they so choose, rather than discouraging them, as is
the case today. This, too, should be accommodated from the word go (oops,
sorry for the pun) in a new, comprehensive framework.

There is no reason to disallow the identity change (NOT "null change",
please!). I have rung many quarters using it. It is perfectly natural and
useful. For example, a 12345 single in Plain Bob Doubles is straightforward
and natural to ring; in my experience most ringers just do it naturally as
the obvious cognate to singles from Plain Bob Minor. It is by far the
easiest way I know to ring lengths such as 50 of Plain Bob Doubles. And a
simple, natural 240 is to make six calls at Home, --s--s: it contains every
row once at hand and once at back, and has a perfectly even distribution of
the six possible coursing orders. Allowing use of the identity change
should not be deferred, but incorporated in a new framework, as soon as it
is possible to construct one.

There is no reason to defer allowing peals on 2 or 3 bells. That are the
natural starting point for what we have today. I have no interest in
ringing such peals, but if others do it is ridiculous that we stand in
their way.

Relay ringing was a natural thing in the past, and has only over the last
century and a bit been denigrated. If that's what folks want to do, we
should not stand in their way. Again, there is no reason to defer this
change, and it should be incorporated in a new framework, essentially now.

There should be NO formalized requirements for quarter peals. The whole
problem being dealt with is that there are too many requirements for peals.
You do not solve the problem of too many requirements by adding more and
making them applicable to more things. The quarter peal community is
getting on just fine without the Council's "help".

Regarding method extension, classification and alternative names: there is
far, far too much here already, of too prescriptive a nature. A new,
shorter, tighter, less prescriptive framework is a perfect opportunity to
simplify this whole area, and get out of the way of the ringers the Council
purports to support.

Do not delay further. Get on with the job that needs doing, and create a
new, shorter, tighter framework now. There is no reason work on drafting
such a thing can't go on in parallel with whatever preparations must be
done for this year's Council meeting. Of course such a job is too big to
get done in time for the meeting, but there is no reason work on it cannot
proceed in parallel with the less ambitious work.


Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"She would be immortal as long as she lived."
                    -- Terry Pratchett, _Thief of Time_
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