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Re: Social Committee proposal

Josip Rodin <joy@entuzijast.net> wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 26, 2007 at 10:55:02AM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> > [...] It would be a powerful loose cannon on deck, [...]
> I must note that it would be no less powerful loose cannon on deck than
> the technical committee,

It maybe loose, but we know which way the technical committee is
pointing recently, because it has a history which we can see.
soc-ctte does not yet.

> and indeed it would be less loose because direct
> election would make it vastly more accountable (currently we can only
> replace tech-ctte members via proxy, and in a catastrophic scenario,
> that just doesn't cut it).

Election and accountability are largely irrelevant to my complaint.

> > If the point truly is that we don't have any group doing any organized
> > thinking about this, then form such a group, but don't empower it yet.
> [...]
> Do you think that we could just form it by way of modifying constitution,
> but strip out half the proposed Powers section?

Maybe it could operate as shadow at first, with s/Decide/Advise/ or
just remove them and rely on the 6.1.5 equivalent.

> [...] I'm sure you would like to have a say if
> someone just suddenly started defining a curriculum :)

I'm not sure, FWIW.

> Where exactly in the Debian Project do we have a 'disneyland', and where do
> we have people forcing other people to abide by their unfounded social
> norms? [...]

The August 2005 -private blow-up seemed like two groups (of totally
different sizes) trying to force each other.  I'm fairly sure I could
find other examples of "norm splits" if I had the time, which I don't:
but often I think there's only one or two people among a minority who
try to explain the minority norm again and again, and new people only
step up when the previous ones burn out, leave or are silent.

> [...] In the Debian world, I don't really recall those things.

I'm pretty sure that "norm splits" are usually totally unremarkable to
most members of the majority in each split and they're not so common
as to happen all the time.

> It's more often that people break a modicum of social norms in
> order to flame, prove a point, or something.

Whose social norms?  For example, central government officers and
farmers have different styles.  I'd rather talk like a farmer than an
officer but others may make the other choice.

I fear that a soc-ctte will try to enforce a particular set of social
norms and perpetuate the harmful Rabid Right meme, which I wrote about
recently http://mjr.towers.org.uk/blog/2007/debian#society

> The selection of people should also happen to reflect the kind of people the
> developer body is composed of.

How?  Is it known how Condorcet behaves in cross-community elections?
Will it reflect the community mix or will it over- and under-represent?

I found
  "When the fraction of voters in each bloc don't match perfectly with
the attainable fractions of seats, there is always some unfairness
because some voters will be overrepresented and some underrepresented."
  -- http://www.cs.cornell.edu/w8/~andru/civs/proportional.html
along with some comments about the majority choosing between tied
minorities and
suggests Cumulative Voting (also known as multi-voting) as a possible
way to avoid it.

Really, I think electing soc-ctte is heading off into the Great
Unknown again, because none of the surveys I've noticed
have produced the basic demographics about who is debian AFAICS.  So
far, it's been how and why is debian as it is, or who is developing
or using free software - and I doubt DDs are representative of all
developers.  Anyone willing to fund me to collect those demographics?

> In normal political systems you normally elect a party, which is represented
> by a few figureheads, and then when they come to power, they distribute
> their vote percentage onto all their members.

Sounds like the list proportion system, which is used for English
regions to elect to the European Parliament.  For the UK parliament,
England elects one person (usually of a party) for each election area
(usually part of a county). For local councils, we elect one or more
people (usually of a party) for each district, town or village.  IIRC,
Germany uses a mix of one-person-per-area and regional lists.

In short: there is no such thing as a normal political system.

> [...] in
> real life people are excited to get the ratio down to 200 in villages, but
> it's usually much, much higher.

AFAICT, my new home village has 1200 voters electing 12 people with
platforms (no parties), so 1 to 100.  I think that's typical here.

Hope that explains,
My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
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