Re: Condorcet Voting and Supermajorities (Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5)
On Tue, Dec 05, 2000 at 12:32:12AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> The Condorcet criterion says that if there's a single option that
> pairwise beats every other option, it should win (assuming there's no
> supermajority requirement, and quorum is met).
That's a relatively weak criterion, all things considered.
> It's what the current A.6(2) and A.6(3) are for. (The Condorcet criterion
> doesn't say anything about the ambiguous cases we've been talking about)
I thought we'd agreed that they are to ensure that the Smith criterion
is met (which is more specific than the Condorcet criterion).
> > > There are two reasonable ways of treating supermajorities, that I can
> > > think of:
> > > a) A supermajority of developers believe this option is acceptable.
> > > b) A supermajority of developers support this option above all
> > > others.
> > > I believe (a) is the better case, and I think it's essentially what the
> > > N+1 scheme described in the constitution achieves. From some of your
> > > mails, I'm lead to believe you might prefer (b).
> > Er.. you've lost me here.
> > (*scratches head*)
> I, uh, don't see how... 
> Ignore all the procedures established in the appendices, and just
> note that a consitutional amendment requires a `3:1 supermajority'
> to succeed. I can only see two things this can be attempting to require:
> * For every person who wouldn't accept it as a resolution, there
> must be three who will for it to pass.
> * For every person who would prefer some other solution, there
> must be three who think this is the best solution possible.
> The way the N+1 style of voting behave, you're effectively requiring the
My point of view is that these two are essentially equivalent: in the
N+1 style of voting, a person who thinks that the option isn't the best
would vote for "further discussion".
> The way your proposed clarification behaves, you're requiring (I
> think) that if you have an option, S, requiring a supermajority, that
> it be preferred by a supermajority over every option, A, B, C that
> don't require a supermajority (of which "No" and "Further Discussion"
> are examples, but others are possible too). I don't think this is
> particularly useful.
I'm guessing that you're saying my view of supermajority isn't
particularly useful is based on your idea where "further discussion"
is equivalent to a "no" vote, even though they're disctinct options
on the ballot, and even though the matter is dropped if "no" wins,
but further votes will be conducted if "further discussion" wins.
I suppose a literal interpretation of 3:1 "supermajority" would be that
over 75% of all of debian's developers must be in favor of an item before
it can be passed. I think that my intepretation of "supermajority"
is more relaxed than this, but that it's equivalent for the case where
everyone is voting.
> > Ok, I think you're basing [your view of my view of supermajority]
> > off of my earlier response to a specific example where I thought, at
> > the time, you were talking about a vote which mixed a supermajority
> > option with a non-supermajority option.
> That's the main (sole?) example where it behaves differently to the
> other methods.
I'll agree that the constitution doesn't explictly address this sort
of mixed majority example.
> > > (b) isn't quite what your system does, though (aiui). If you consider
> > > the Manoj and Branden's proposed vote, we might end up with people holding
> > > preferences like:
> > > 120 people prefer M, B, S, F (Manoj, Branden, Status-Quo, F.Disc)
> > > 100 people prefer B, M, S, F
> > > This means that the ratio between M and B would be only 6:5, rather than
> > > 3:1, so presumably neither should win (that's what (b) would imply to me)?
> > If we're talking about *my* interpretation of what the constitution
> > is saying, and what it's trying to say, and *my* understanding of that
> > particular vote. And, if we agree that a 3:1 supermajority applies to
> > changing the social contract:
> (By Manoj's and Branden's proposals, I mean the amendments to the
> constitution to provide a procedure for changing the constitution,
> not any of the non-free votes themselves, since both would change
> the constitution if accepted, both require a supermajority to pass)
> > The way I see it, when determining which votes Dominate which others,
> > votes which prefer an option with a supermajority are reduced to an
> > appropriate fraction (in this case 1/3). But, 40 Dominates 33 1/3,
> > so M wins.
> Yes, that's how I understand your interpretation too; it just doesn't
> seem sensible to me to have the voting system be biassed towards options
> that don't require a supermajority (or require a lesser one).
Well.. the constitution seems to explicitly state this.
> That is, given two options, A and B, both of which pass quorum, both of
> which are acceptable to their respective supermajorities, then the one
> that's picked should be the one that's preferred by more people, simple
> as that.
Do you agree that "preferred by more people" really means "preferred by
a majority of relevant votes"?
> There's an obvious justification for choosing A: more people prefer
> it. I can't see one for being biassed towards B (anywhere up to a
> 2.99:1 majority for A:B would still make B the winner), merely because
> it's easier, constitutionally, to implement.
By "easier" do you mean "closest to what the constitution says", or
do you mean something else? [If you mean something else, I don't
see that "easier" has anything to do with it.]
> > [Also, 73 1/3 -- the total number of votes for M, exceeds
> > quorum of 37, so there's not a problem with not enough people voting.]
> Eh? Supermajorities and quorum requirments are usually distinct,
> aren't they? You'll note the constitution currently says ``For votes
> requiring a supermajority, the actual number of Yes votes is used when
> checking whether the quorum has been reached.'' So there's 220 votes
> "for" M, as far as quorum is concerned, unless I've missed something.
Good point, I overlooked that.
>  If it's just the terms, I'm using N+1 / "the current scheme" to talk
> about the method where we first vote (using simple majority and
> no quorum) on what the form of the amendment is, and we then vote
> on whether it's passed or not, with options Y/N/F. I'm using "your
> scheme" or "your interpretation" to refer to the method you describe
> of handling all the options on a single ballot, simply by ordering the
> options . I'm using "my scheme" to refer to the method I describe
> of doing the same thing, but which certainly isn't supported by the
> constitution as it stands.
>  As opposed to a single ballot that lets you say:
>  Remove non-free [NYF]
>  Support non-free [YNF]
>  Further Discussion
> which is effectively just incorporating the N+1 votes into a single
> message (which is how I'd have interpreted A.3(3)).
"Simply ordering the options" isn't a general case way to implement
A.3(3), though I believe there are specific cases where "simply ordering
the options" would make sense.
I don't know what you mean by NYF and YNF, above.
> > > > Actually, if you're talking about a properly formed A.3(3) vote, where
> > > > you're voting on option A and independent option B, there should be
> > > > on the ballot:
> > > > Yes on A and B
> > > > Yes on A, no on B
> > > > Yes on B no on A
> > > > no on A, no on B
> > > > further discussion.
On Mon, Dec 04, 2000 at 11:46:55AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > > Okay, now consider the vote being proposed by Manoj and Branden, then
> > > one that has alternatives "Allow modification of foundational documents
> > > with 3:1 supermajority" and "Allow modification to all documents".
On Sun, Dec 03, 2000 at 10:02:40PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > These are not independent options.
On Tue, Dec 05, 2000 at 12:36:08AM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Nor are "Debian will have nothing to do with non-free ever again"
> and "Debian will continue to maintain non-free, but will do it on
> unofficial.debian.org instead of ftp-master". So I don't see what
> relevance the above has at all.
The example we were discussing was "Debian will have nothing to do with
non-free, and we're pulling it out of the constitution", and "Debian
will gradually phase out the current non-free ftp archive".
You proposed that the first required a 3:1 supermajority, and
that the second did not.
I proposed that there are two ways of phasing out the current non-free
ftp archive. One is associated with dropping support altogether,
and dropping support altogether requires a 3:1 supermajority. The
other is associated with continuing support in some other venue
(which doesn't require a 3:1 supermajority).
> I think I've consistently ignored the possibility of actual
> independent alternatives in a single resolution throughout this whole
Maybe that has something to do with the feeling I get, that we're
you're talking past me, and I don't really know what you're trying
> > I get the feeling you're not even trying to see how what I'm talking
> > about relates to what's said in the constitution. Certainly, you're
> > not quoting from the constitution in your "refutations" of my
> > points.
> Well, you seem willing to infer whole vistas of implied conditions
> from single words, and seem to take the position that anything not
> explicitly forbidden in the constitution is implicitly allowed, so I
> don't really see much point discussing what the constitution says,
> since I can't see any objective basis for analysis remaining, and you
> have the high-ground as far as subjective analysis goes (since you
> have some possibility of actually acting as secretary).
If I actually *am* stuck as secretary, I'm going to try to do everything
possible to get people to agree on an overall approach before resorting
to a vote. You included.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to approach interpreting the constitution in a
self-consistent fashion. Since (it's true) I might actually get stuck
with the responsibility of interpreting the thing, I want to have an
interpretation which is as consistent as possible with what it says,
and what people understand it to say.
But, what I say now isn't intended to have any sort of historical
significance, or any such thing. Any time I have to do something based on
the constitution, I read it through several times, to make sure that what
I'm currently thinking is in line with what it actually says. What I'm
saying now is more along the lines of trying to come up with some overall
understanding of what it means and what sorts of issues might come up.
> I'm much more interested in how we should conduct votes in future,
I guess I'm not comfortable replacing the constitution with anything
that I'm not convinced is unambiguously better.