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Bug#636783: TC minimum discussion period

Sorry, this partially-finished draft sat in my box for a month.  Sending

On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 04:03:03PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> We have discussed having a minimum discussion period for TC
> resolutions.

> I still think this is necessary.  I think 72h is about right.

In the IRC meeting on May 22, we discussed several different approaches for
handling the call for votes.  The one I favor is to introduce a formal
cloture vote into the process.


A cloture vote is a procedural up/down vote on whether to close debate on a
question and move to a vote on the ballot.  It's intended to be a balanced
safeguard both against pushing through decisions before people have had a
chance to fully consider them (or offer amendments), and against a minority
preventing a decision from being taken by holding the debate open

Now, no honest evaluation of a cloture process would be complete without
acknowledging the most well-known failure condition - the US Senate's rules
on filibustering.  I consider such filibusters to be the most extreme sort
of procedural gamesmanship and an act of bad faith on the part of all
involved; nevertheless, we should aim to ensure that our implementation is
resistent to any such tactics.

Here's a strawman:

 - Any member of the TC may call for a cloture vote on a proposed ballot at
   any time.
 - Quorum for a cloture vote is 1/2 + 1 members.
 - A cloture vote must receive 2/3 majority in favor in order to pass.
 - Voting period for cloture is 48 hours, or until the outcome is no longer
   in doubt.
 - Ballot options proposed during the cloture vote shall be included on the
 - If a cloture vote fails, any TC member who voted in favor of cloture may
   not repeat the call for a period of one week following the first call.
   Other members of the TC may call for cloture during this time.
 - If a cloture vote fails, any ballot options that are subsequently
   proposed and not withdrawn shall be included on the ballot for the issue.
 - If, two weeks after the original call for cloture, there have been no
   further ballot options proposed, voting proceeds on the original ballot.


 - If there is procedural consensus, we can act as quickly as we need to.
 - If someone tries to CFV too early, whether because of an error in
   judgement or because they're trying to cut off debate, a "cooldown"
   period applies, ensuring that a failed cloture vote actually leaves room
   for further discussion
 - However, as soon as any one person who has voted against cloture is
   satisfied with a revised ballot, they can call for cloture again and the
   vote can move forward
 - A CFV can largely not be used to prevent a minority viewpoint being
   represented on the ballot, since additional ballot options can be
   submitted during the cloture vote and are guaranteed to be included.
 - Voting down cloture cannot be used to prevent a question from coming to
   a vote; anyone opposed to cloture must still put in the effort to come up
   with alternative ballot options or the vote will still happen.


 - A member of the TC can ensure "irrelevant" ballot options are included on
   the ballot, possibly spoiling the vote.  I don't think this is a real
   issue.  But then, I also fundamentally disagree with Bdale's
   characterization of the init system ballot proposals as "conflation"; so
   I consider this the lesser evil compared with the status quo, and think
   it should not be possible for any member of the TC to ever do again what
   Bdale did in that case.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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