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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).

On Mon, Dec 04, 2000 at 05:03:25PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > That's a relatively weak criterion, all things considered.

On Tue, Dec 05, 2000 at 12:06:17PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Yeah, well. Most of the time, it's still a good one, though. (It's
> applied to all the votes we've actually had.)

Sounds like we're in agreement here (and, it's true, most of what
we've been talking about is fairly academic).

> > > 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).
> What I meant was that there was no reasonable way of misinterpreting A.6(2)
> and A.6(3) so that the Condorcet condition wasn't met.

Ok, no problem.

> > > 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.
> > Agreed.
> > > 	* For every person who would prefer some other solution, there
> > > 	  must be three who think this is the best solution possible.
> > Agreed.
> > > The way the N+1 style of voting behave, you're effectively requiring the
> > > former.
> > 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".
> Well, they might do that, yes. Or else they might think to themselves, "well,
> I'm never going to get my preferred choice, and this isn't bad, so yeah,
> let's do that". I think that's a valid point of view to hold.
> In the current voting system, you'd express that by voting
> 	[ 1 ] My First Preference
> 	[ 2 ] My Second Preference
> 	[ 3 ] Further Disucssion
> then, when "My Second Preference" wins, you'd say "Oh well" and vote
> 	[ 1 ] Yes
> 	[ 3 ] No
> 	[ 2 ] Further Discussion

Indeed, things could happen this way.  [Personally, I'm not sure I'd
say "Oh well" -- if "My First Preference" was important to me, I'd very
likely vote 1: further discussion, 2: yes, 3: no -- this wouldn't have a
substantially different effect, unless some of the people who had voted
the other way had second thoughts, or unless more people participated
in the second vote.]

> Similarly, in the counting scheme I proposed, you'd vote:

Er.. I've been trying to find your proposal.  Looking for the word
"counting" in the message body, the closest to a proposal I've found
in your recent posts is:
Message-ID: <20001114115213.F26167@azure.humbug.org.au>

If you can point me at the right message, I'll try to get back to
your proposal.  [Thanks.]

> > 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.
> No, your view of supermajority isn't good because it affects other
> options than the status-quo options, and raises the odds that they'll win.
> An alternative way of looking at it is that there's no way to express
> a preference towards a non-supermajority vote without that preference
> counting for three preferences the other way. What if I *don't* feel
> that strongly about it?

Well.. if supermajority decreases the chance that an option will win,
then, yes, that does tend to bias things in the direction of alternatives.

To avoid this "bias", you seem to want to bias things away from the
alternatives, and in favor of the choice between the supermajority option,
and what you call the "status quo" option.

Anyways, the vote has to have some kind of outcome.

> As far as "no" versus "further discussion" goes, consider what would
> happen if the non-free vote had gone something like: my amendment
> passes, so then it's voted on and fails, with "No" winning. I,
> personally, would suspect that John and friends would immediately make
> a new proposal so they can get their issue actually voted on, although
> there would be good odds that it'd fail a Yes/No vote, just as it did
> against my amendment.

He'd be silly to propose something substantially similar unless it was
a very close vote.

> > 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.
> A supermajority enforces a proportion of yays versus nays, a quorum
> enforces a reasonable proportion of the voting membership is represented.
> Requiring 75% of developers to vote in an election would basically make
> it impossible to ever change anything.
> So, I don't think you're being particularly liberal there at all :)

Ok... so, what do you understand "majority" to mean?

> > > > 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.
> Well, again, my reading explicitly requires a vote with Yes/No/Further
> Discussion as the only options, and only applies supermajority and quorum
> to those options.


The only way I see to get that interpretation requires I either:

[A] Completely ignore A.3(3), or
[B] imagine that A.6(7) somehow says that X stands for only "no" or
"further discussion"

What have I missed?

> > > 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"?
> Sure. If people want their preferences to count, they have to vote.
> If they choose not to, we have to assume the votes we do get are
> representative (unless we miss quorum).

Good enough.  Second question: is there some reason to imagine that the
second preference should override the first preference in cases where
the first preference clearly favors one of the options?

> > > 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.]
> Doing something that doesn't require a supermajority is easier as far
> as the constitution is concerned. It's easier, for example, to overrule
> the DPL or a delegate than the technical ctte.

[It's also a lot easier to get a decision out of an individual than it
is to get a decision out of a group.]

Ok, so by "implement" you mean "agree on in a vote".

And, it looks like you're not arguing here, about what the constitution
says, but about what you'd like for it to say.

And, it looks like what you want is some kind of "sea level" sort of
option -- if you've ranked an option with a supermajority above that "sea
level", you'd like your vote to count as a vote towards the supermajority
requirement.  And, if you happened to rank some other option above the
option with the supermajority requirement, that doesn't enter into it.

> > > [1] As opposed to a single ballot that lets you say:
> > > 
> > > 	[2] Remove non-free [NYF]
> > > 	[1] Support non-free [YNF]
> > > 	[3] 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)).
> > I don't know what you mean by NYF and YNF, above.
> It incorporates the two votes into a single message. The above would
> be interpreted as an initial vote for keep non-free, or remove it, or
> discuss more, and depending on which of those options won, a final vote
> of either:
> 	[2] Yes, [1] No, [3] Further Discussion
> or	[1] Yes, [2] No, [3] Further Discussion

As I interpret the constitution, it's not that you're supposed
to present a ballot that represents the various combinations of
preferences you could have picked off other ballots.  Instead,
you're supposed to present the various combinations of choics
you could have picked off of distinct ballots.

It looks like you're advocating an interpretation which would
present ballot options of the form:

Remove non-free [FNY]
Remove non-free [FYN]
Remove non-free [NFY]
Remove non-free [NYF]
Remove non-free [YFN]
Remove non-free [YNF]

But there might be some other reason you're indicating specific
rankings of preferences on these non-existent ballots.

In other words: I still don't get it.  Chalk it up to my general
stupidity, but please try to explain without skipping any steps.

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".
> Yes, and it doesn't seem meaningful to try to do both of these at
> once. You can't continue to support non-free but gradually phase it
> out while having nothing to do with non-free at all.

There's a difference between "phase out entirely" and "phase out
the current implementation".  The latter implicitly promises a new
implementation -- though perhaps the details would be nailed down later.
I can imagine a debian meta-package which contains enough detail that
the machine could download and install software by reference to external

But the point is: we're talking about hypothetical ballots --
it will be a lot simpler to talk about "independent" and "interrelated"
options than it will be to talk about whether the imaginary options
being voted on have appropriate amounts of meaning.


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