What is a BakeAThon?

I've given up trying to explain to people what it is I do for a living. But I think I'm going to keep on trying to explain what a BakeAThon is to them.

How can I do one without the other? Well, I can abstract the process.

So a BakeAThon (and a ConnectAThon) is an interoperability testing event. And the best way to describe it is that you have 10 different people with a set of rules for a game (if you say AD&D edition 3 rules, you have another set of problems to deal with). Each of them has read the rules and believes that they know all of the intricacies. But none of them have played the game with anyone else.

So they all get together and start to play each other. And they start to argue about each and every move. Sometimes it is pretty obvious whose interpretation is wrong. And sometimes they call someone else over to help decide.

As soon as player A is done with player B, they start with player C. Except sometimes they are also playing with player D at the same time. Or player B comes back to see if they have gotten rule 5.3 correct now.

Sometimes they all vote on how to interpret a rule and even change the rule book. And sometimes player F was at the bathroom when that happened and causes the debate to start back up again.

Then they all go away again for 3 months, promising to play games against each other remotely. They meet back up again at the next BakeAThon - sometimes there is a new player or someone didn't show up. But they are willing to chime in over email.

But they have to start all over from scratch because no one played remotely and they've been busy playing with themselves.

A further complication is that some people only play defense and some only play offense. Sometimes you get a team where they split those duties. So when you talk to one person about how they run their offense, they shrug and say that they only do defense. And the problem that arises here is when the team's offense only plays against their defense - they get pretty good at it and understand some simple shortcuts that make it easy. But when they play another team, those same shortcuts cause problems.

So a BakeAThon is pretty much like that. The major difference is that the competitiveness isn't in winning a game but in getting the game adopted by other people. I.e., Foo Inc. and Bar Inc. may have differences and fight over customers, but while at a BakeAThon, they work together to make NFS a better protocol.


Originally posted on Kool Aid Served Daily
Copyright (C) 2008, Kool Aid Served Daily
Comments:

so ... how was the austin bakeathon?

Posted by peter honeyman on February 24, 2008 at 03:19 AM CST #

Actually, I thought it went pretty smoothly. The infrastructure was up and running right off the bat and there wasn't that awkward loss of a day while trying to get Kerberos up and running.

Everyone was testing and fixes were flowing back and forth. I didn't see that much focus on the standard, instead I saw people tackling issues in it raised by said testing.

Cough, cough, Sun does need to study the CITI approach though and provide tshirts for the participants.

Posted by Tom Haynes on February 24, 2008 at 09:30 AM CST #

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