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Thread: How To Write a Rule

  1. #1
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    How to write a rule

    We seem to get into a lot of arguments about various rules. “This rule says this” or “this rule says that” or whatever. And, typically, the basis of this argument is different strokes, different folks; one person read is another person’s cheat.

    I see the root cause for all these arguments centering around one thing: poorly-written rules.

    Yep, sorry if it pisses off the rulesmakers, but I think I can credibly argue that most disagreements center around either people reading into the rule what wasn’t intended (maybe based on a failure of the rulesmakers’ imaginations) or poor use of verbiage to describe the intent. So, here are Greg’s Tips to keep in mind when you’re trying to write a rule.

    Tip #1: You can’t POSSIBLY think of all situations

    Consider this: there’s a handful of you sitting around a table (or talking on a teleconference) trying to find the best way to write an allowance to the rules (e.g., struts, suspension bushings, engine mounts, whatever). Do you REALLY believe that you can think of all possible permutations that the rest of the world can come up with? Of course not. The masses, as massive as they are, have a collective imagination that simply dwarfs your small collective's. Ergo, you are insignificant when it comes to thinking of all possibilities.

    Tip #2: If It Doesn’t Say You Can, Then You Cannot

    Glory be! That little bit of sunshine is your savior. The "IIDSYCTYC Rule" (GCR 9.1.3.D) is the one rule that can pull your butt out of a fire. You, as a rulesmaker, have the ultimate authority on allowances, because until and unless you allow it, it cannot be done, period! But, you absolutely must keep in mind...

    Tip #3: The George Roffe Rule

    The George Roffe rule states, simply, "If it says you can, then you bloody well can!" Whereas The "IIDSYCTYC Rule" is your friend and savior, the George Roffe Rule is your enemy and your Achilles’ Heel. Many a rulesmaker has been humbled by seemingly simple words that massively opened the doors to rules failures (e.g., remote reservoir shocks, splitter and undertrays, spherical suspension bushings, open ECUs).

    Tip #4: With Tips #1-3 in mind, describe only what you want to ALLOW, not what you want to restrict.

    Remember, tip #1 says there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that a handful of guys on a telcon can think of all permutations, therefore when you use the magic words "unrestricted" or "open" or "can be replaced" and so forth you've now, with your magic wand, reverted that rule to The George Roffe Rule. No longer is it IIDSYCTYC, it’s now "whatever you want to do within the restrictions listed below".

    At this point, see tip #1, 'cause you just opened a biiiig hole (insert loophole-driving-truck-through reference here). Do you REALLY think you can fill that hole sufficiently? Besides, there's no NEED to describe what you can't do, 'cause you've already got it: the IIDSYCTYC Rule.

    Tip #5: See Tip #4.

    If after writing your rule you still feel the need to start adding in restrictions, then your new rule isn't worded well; go back to Tip #4 and try again.


    If you understand your humility, and keep these simple tips in mind, I absolutely believe you cannot go wrong.

    Other thoughts from the peanut gallery?

  2. #2
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    ... Besides, there's no NEED to describe what you can't do, 'cause you've already got it: the IIDSYCTYC Rule. ...
    [/b]
    The importance of this point can NOT be overstated. I would go so far as to say that we should never, EVER write into a rule what is not allowed. The point at which language intended to clarify, is added to an allowance, it implicitly gives permission for any allowance OTHER THAN the one proscribed in the example. A non-IT example, if I might:

    County ordnance 12.400.01 - It is permissible for county residents not within any incorporated city limits to burn refuse on their private property, but only if said refuse is normal yard waste (the burning of tires is not allowed).

    The point at which the parenthetical bit was added to provide an example of something that might be commonly burnt but was not within the original intent of the rule, everything other than tires became fair game.

    "Hey, all of that construction debris from the new kitchen ended up in my yard."

    "It's my truck, and I took the tires off before I lit 'er up."

    "Well, those cows died on MY property, Son."

    The only other thing I'd add is that "less is more." If you don't use a word, it can't be misappropriated to support someone's creep goals. Say it simple.

    K

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    That's a good list Greg, do you have one for the responses that are typically offered in the Fast Track?



    Tabled for further discussion.

    Rules are sufficent as written.

    Not within the spirit of IT.


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    A quick glance at the ITCS has me in full agreement with Greg. I have not found a run where less is not 'more' IF YOU LIVE BY THE IIDSYCTYC principle.

    Let me ask Matt a question on his question - those are canned responses shortened to save space in the GCR. The CRB gets tons of letters every month suggesting changes - do you write up a sentence or two for each? Would these be better and more PC?

    1. Thank you for your input. The issue has been tabled for the ITAC/CRB to do more research in order to make a more informed decision.

    2. Thank you for your input. Having reviewed your request, it has been determined that the rules are sufficent as written and no change will be recommended.

    Matt (and anyone else who wants a shot), what would you write in FT as a response to this recent request: remembering that the CRB gets 20+ like it a month...


    I drive an ITA Neon Coupe with a DOHC. From what I have seen racing the the Northeast and Central Divisions, competition adjustments are needed to make the any of the Neons competitive with the ITA Acuras, Hondas and Nissans. I had to add weight when the car was moved from SSC to ITA. I believe the weight of the DOHC should be reduced 200lbs to match SOHC Neons. The GCR lists the minimum weight of the SOHC Neon at 2450. The DOHC minimum weight is listed at 2650. I believe the DOHC should be reduced to 2450 lbs effective with the start of the 2008 season.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.[/b]
    Andy Bettencourt
    New England Region 188967

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    If you don't use a word, it can't be misappropriated to support someone's creep goals. Say it simple.[/b]
    To restate that (and maybe generate tip #5?), if after writing the rule you feel the need to start adding in restrictions, then your new rule isn't worded well; try again. (On edit: added it in there...)


    That's a good list Greg, do you have one for the responses that are typically offered in the Fast Track?[/b]
    Matt, those are responses to proposed changes, ones that indicate they disagree in some way with your proposal. That doesn't necessarily mean you didn't follow the Tips, it just means they rejected the idea(ls)... - GA

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    I recognize what drives Matt's question but I think that it might be an unsolvable problem. People who care deeply about something they have requested, or are following through the process, are likely not ever going to be satisfied with different wording - if the actual substance of the response is not what they want to hear. FasTrack is not a venue for discussion, or for the decision-making organs to explain all of their thinking.

    If we hope that publication will illuminate the process or thinking behind a decision, or even less likely convince those who disagree with the outcome, we're going to be very disappointed.

    K

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    FasTrack is not a venue for discussion, or for the decision-making organs to explain all of their thinking.

    If we hope that publication will illuminate the process or thinking behind a decision, or even less likely convince those who disagree with the outcome, we're going to be very disappointed.

    K [/b]
    Precisely.

    However, that situation has changed somewhat in the past few years. As far as the Improved Touring Category is concerned, two things have occurred.

    First, several members of the ITAC have spent considerable time discussing concepts and situations on forums such as this with the membership at large. Not very long ago, to have such direct access was unheard of for the general unwashed masses. Now, it's a mouseclick away.

    Second, certain requests for input regarding proposed rules changes have included prefaces that give insight to the thinking and intent behiind the proposal, in an attempt to spur on critical thinking and to create responses that go beyond the "I support" or "I don't support" standards. Reading the mechanics behind a persons support or objection to an item is often more telling than the mere direction, and helps rulemakers get a clearer understanding of the motives and the big picture.

    Lastly, using the same responses such as "Inconsistant with class philosophy" keeps the responses polite..., although I agree that it is frustrating to get any short response to your well thought out 3 page proposal! On the other hand, it would also suck to get "What kind of crack are you smoking??" ! (You'd be surprised at some of the letters that are sooo "me" oriented.


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    Andy:

    Tabled for further discussion - decision to be made by XXX meeting. Need further input from XXXX. YYYY who's an expert at XXX was not available for input at previous meeting.

    Rules are sufficient as written - see XXXX. Same function can be accomplished via XXXX.

    Not w/in the spirit of IT - exceeds allowable perameters, infringes on XXXX, would open the door for XXXX


    Correct me if I am wrong, but the discussions that go on are not limited these 'canned responses'. With the fast track being published on line there is no concern for word count that gets published. The appeals portion of the FT spares no space for detail, why does this?

    You hit it right on the head, they are 'canned responses' where as there is much more backround on most of them. Lately the FT hasn't even addressed all the letters it has rcvd either.

    Matt

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    Matt, I TOTALLY agree that every request should get an official yes or no, at some point. If something is tabled, it needs to be TABLED rather than lost in the shuffle. That's a pretty important thing, right there.

    However, looking at the XXXX examples, I just don't think that kind of thing is workable. The issues are so complex, and with diverse views of the ITAC members, CoB members, and even BoD members, how do you determine what to include and leave out? It could take multiple paragraphs to even capture the major points that got considered and if it's a close-fought thing among committee members, all of those viewpoints would require equal time. Eek.

    ...Now, it's a mouseclick away.[/b]
    The default font makes that look like "mousedick" - which is NOT very large measurement of distance at all.

    I'm still laughing.

    K

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    Dredging up an oldie but a goodie...

    All rulesmakers should take a half-hour and listen to this podcast. It really hits home toward the end...

    The Cobra Effect

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/10/...radio-podcast/

    I think you start by admitting to yourself that no individual, no government, is ever going to be as smart as the people who are scheming against you. So when you introduce an incentive scheme, you have to just admit to yourself that no matter how clever you think you are, there’s a pretty good chance that someone far more clever than yourself will figure out a way to beat the incentive scheme.
    Not my circus...not my monkeys...

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    You can learn a lot by reading poorly-written rules.

    4. Exhaust systems from the cylinder head exhaust ports back may be replaced with any material with the following requirements:
    a. The exhaust must exit to the rear of the driver.
    b. The exhaust must comply with local noise restrictions.
    c. Any high flow catalytic converter(s) are allowed. Multiple catalytic converters may be replaced by a single unit. The inlet of the single replacement converter may be located no further downstream than 6" along the piping flow path from the original exit of the final OE converter. Vehicles not equipped with a catalytic converter as original equipment are not required to have one.
    With that in your rulebook, do you install a cat, or do you throw it in the trash?
    -----------------------
    Jarrod Igou
    ITR/STU BMW 325i, #92
    Des Moines Valley Region

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    Quote Originally Posted by JIgou View Post
    With that in your rulebook, do you install a cat, or do you throw it in the trash?
    According to that rule, if you had a convertor (or more than one), you still need one, though it may be a high flow unit.

    Where is that rule from?
    Matt Green

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    Looks like Solo ST.
    Andy Bettencourt
    New England Region 188967

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    That one is copy-pasted from Rallycross rules. Wouldn't surprise me if Solo ST was the template.
    -----------------------
    Jarrod Igou
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    Ah yes, RallyCross. I didn't think it was quite a Solo style.

    If the class from which this is pulled is intended to be a street class, then the retention of operational emissions equipment is understandable. Also, given RallyCross' roots in Rally, remember that Rally cars must be street-legal (inspected and registered) for purposes of transits. I'm not certain if that philosophy has held over into RallyCross, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did...
    Matt Green

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    1. I can replace the exhaust from the head back. Materials are "any material". I pick a straight pipe with a small muffler.

    Next up, I have to pay attention to a, b and c.

    a. Exit behind the driver. No problem.

    b. Comply with noise. No problem.

    c.......
    1. Any high flow cat is allowed.
    2. Multiple cats may be replaced by a single cat, and the location of that single cat is specified.
    3. If it didn't come with one, I don't have to have one.

    Bolding is mine. I don't see anything in there that says I need to keep a cat. I'm ALLOWED to have a high-flow cat - no requirements there. I'm ALLOWED to replace two factory cats with one, and if I do that I'm restricted on its location. Only requirement is location. If the car didn't come with one, I don't need to add one. Again, no requirements.

    It may very well be the intent that a cat is required, but I would have NO problem showing up with no cat and pointing at this rule in support of that.
    -----------------------
    Jarrod Igou
    ITR/STU BMW 325i, #92
    Des Moines Valley Region

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    Oh, and to add - this is RallyCross "Prepared" class.
    -----------------------
    Jarrod Igou
    ITR/STU BMW 325i, #92
    Des Moines Valley Region

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    Quote Originally Posted by JIgou View Post
    1. I can replace the exhaust from the head back. Materials are "any material". I pick a straight pipe with a small muffler.

    Next up, I have to pay attention to a, b and c.

    a. Exit behind the driver. No problem.

    b. Comply with noise. No problem.

    c.......
    1. Any high flow cat is allowed.
    2. Multiple cats may be replaced by a single cat, and the location of that single cat is specified.
    3. If it didn't come with one, I don't have to have one.

    Bolding is mine. I don't see anything in there that says I need to keep a cat. I'm ALLOWED to have a high-flow cat - no requirements there. I'm ALLOWED to replace two factory cats with one, and if I do that I'm restricted on its location. Only requirement is location. If the car didn't come with one, I don't need to add one. Again, no requirements.

    It may very well be the intent that a cat is required, but I would have NO problem showing up with no cat and pointing at this rule in support of that.
    The key piece is #3. It specifies when you can NOT have one.
    Andy Bettencourt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Bettencourt View Post
    The key piece is #3. It specifies when you can NOT have one.
    Agreed, as that was my key issue.

    But Jarrod, I'd agree that the rule could be much more clear. In the end, you could show up without one, and you could use that rule as a point of issue. But I also think if it came down to it, you'd lose in an official sense.
    Matt Green

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShelbyRacer View Post
    Agreed, as that was my key issue.

    But Jarrod, I'd agree that the rule could be much more clear. In the end, you could show up without one, and you could use that rule as a point of issue. But I also think if it came down to it, you'd lose in an official sense.
    It could be a losing proposition. I've got no dog in the hunt as I'm not and don't plan on competing in rx world any time soon, but after a competitor pointed it out to me, I thought the rule was ripe for this thread as an example of what not to do.

    I still maintain:

    Telling me I can replace the exhaust with "any material" kicks open the door. My straightpipe with a Supertrapp for sound meets this perfectly.

    The third part - "Vehicles not equipped with a catalytic converter as original equipment are not required to have one." - doesn't apply to me - my car came with one from the factory.

    The other two allowances - the high flow cat and the "use one cat where there were two" allowance don't apply to me either - I've elected not to use one with my "any material" exhaust.

    IIDSYCYC, correct.....but Roffe it up and I bloody well can, IMHO.

    But that's enough - I'll close in saying that this is a PRIME example of what NOT to do when writing a rule.
    -----------------------
    Jarrod Igou
    ITR/STU BMW 325i, #92
    Des Moines Valley Region

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