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Re: Condorcet Voting and Supermajorities (Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5)

On Sat, Dec 09, 2000 at 07:43:57PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > Personally, I worry about any kind of wholesale change in the language
> > of the constitution.  Yeah, if you change major chunks of the document
> > then current ambiguities would go away.  But how do we know whether we're
> > introducing new ones?  Or whether we're introducing other problems?

On Sun, Dec 10, 2000 at 08:16:13PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Raul, how do you know your interpretations aren't introducing more
> problems? 

That's one of the reasons I've been talking about them -- to find out
if anyone sees them from a point of view that introduces more problems.

But, I'd like to make a distinction between philosophical problems and
the more specific problem of ambiguities which could lead to different
winners of the same vote.

> It's not like your interpretation (of supermajorities in particular,
> but also of cyclic tie-breaking) has ever actually been used before,
> either within Debian or without.

On the "different winners of the same vote" issue:

[1] I don't see that you've shown my ideas to be flawed in this fashion.

[2] If my interpretation of the constitution is equivalent to your
interpretation of the constitution where there's no cyclic tie, if the
ambiguities in vote counting only appear where there is a cyclic tie,
what room is there for additional ambiguities to appear where none
existed before?

On the philosopic side of things:

It's not like anyone else has designed a real voting system to be used
for an email participation context.

If you want us to fall back on the sort of voting systems used in more
traditional contexts: Supermajority would be described as a different
kind of ratio: how much of the entire body must be in favor of the option
before it can pass.  For example: a 2/3 supermajority would mean that
2/3 of all debian developers must be in favor of the option before it
can pass.  [Can you point at any counter examples?]

What I see is that debian's system is designed to work on the idea that
the people interested in a subject are the people who are competent
to decide on that subject, and that there's a right way to do things.
That's funamentally different from the usual sort of voting system,
which assumes universal participation of some sort, and doesn't presume
that anything other than voter opinion indicates that one idea is better
than any others.

I'll agree that my interpretation of supermajority is different from the
tradition, but I think that, philosophically, mine aligns closer to the
way debian has made choices in the past.

Something similar applies to my view of cyclic tie breaking -- I'm not
assuming that only voter opinion matters, and I'm assuming that people
have a particular *reason* for picking a first option first.

Also, the weights assigned to votes at different preferences is
fundamentally arbitrary:  Smith/Condorcet would continue to break cyclic
ties if the contribution introduced by each preference after the first
was multiplied by an additional factor of 1/(number of voters) -- and,
for the case of no cyclic tie, this variant of Smith/Condorcet would
continue to pick the same winner as the traditional variant.

> It's not like it's the end result of months of discussion by
> experts, and years of electoral research. It's not even like it's
> the widely held consensus of a bunch of non-experts. 

Ok, point me at some references to expert discussion on voting systems
with Debian's philosophic base.

> Instead, it's one non-expert's interpretation of a not particularly
> plainly written document written mainly by another non-expert, that
> hasn't particularly stood the test of time all that well.

You're falling into an ad hominem argument.

> Can you see why I don't think all this random "but that's not what the
> constitution *says*" junk isn't the right way to approach this, or
> even a particularly helpful interlude?

Can you point me at another organization which has tried to tackle
things in the fashion that debian has been tackling things, whose model
we should adopt?



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