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Re: Political policymaking

Philip Hands writes:
> It didn't seem general enough for me.
> IMHO if we do anything in this direction, we should go for a general
> purpose opinion gathering system, and let anyone on the list put up
> proposals on any subject by mailing to something like
> cfv@lists.debian.org.

I'm not quite clear on what you're saying here, so let me answer what
I see as the possibilities.  If I've misunderstood you then please
accept my apology in advance, and clarify yourself :-).

I don't think that making it easy to have a vote on every possible
topic of interest to all the developers will work.  Having every
developer vote on every issue is a nice ideal if you think a lot about
democracy and things like that.  However, the developers have better
things to do than answering endless opinion surveys.  Making such
polls too frequent will just waste time and reduce participation.  It
will also make it too easy to try to put technical issues to a vote -
which I hope we're all agreed is a bad idea.

Furthermore, order for a voting system to work it needs to be seen to
have real power.  A mere `interest poll' which is advisory to whoever
is really in charge carries much less weight.  In my experience this
greatly reduces levels of participation (cf.  `unofficial polls' on
USENET regarding various issues, and European Parliament elections in
the UK and some other parts of the EU).  If you hold votes which don't
have real power to decide the issue then you end up with only the
`extremists' voting, and then the results of the polls become
untrustworthy, causing both the people in power and the voters to take
less notice of them - this is a downwards spiral.

If you're saying that my mechanism doesn't provide a way for
developers to put any issue of their choice to a vote then I think
you're simply wrong.  Anyone can write up a proposal and if it
receives the required numbers of seconds then it will be voted on.

The requirement for seconds is to stop the use of a strong formal
decisionmaking procedure (intended for things like the DFSG and social
contract) for trivial issues (like the desirability of CCs on mailing
list messages or forwards- or reverse-ordering of bug log web pages).


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