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Re: supermajority options

On Mon, Nov 25, 2002 at 02:42:17PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> I think it is self-deluding that a 3:1 supermajority, let alone a 2:1
> supermajority, is an accurate "approximation" of "unanimity".

If we were trying for unanimity, we'd say so. We're not. There's a scale
from "unanimous", through "consensus" and various supermajorities to
majority, or even minority rule. 

Basically, you're optimising two factors: on the one hand the more
people you're required to convince of a change before making it, the more
carefully you're likely to have thought through the implications and the
more alternatives you'll have considered, resulting in a better decision.
On the other hand, the more people you're required to convince, the more
chance you'll have of running into someone who's not acting reasonably,
or whose goals are fundamentally different, thus resulting in complete

The latter is why we go for "rough consensus" instead of unanimity in
most decisions. It's also why we don't require more than a majority for
decisions like the logo vote -- it's just not worth the effort.

However for things like changing the constitution, IMO, it _is_ worth
the risk of being stuck with the status-quo to make sure any changes
we make have been carefully thought through and we've examined the
alternatives enough to know that almost all of us really do think the
change is worthwhile.

(Personally, I think the social contract should come under a similar
heading, and in that vein, I don't think the proponents for change have
looked at the alternatives anywhere near enough: removing the non-free
programs they maintain that they don't think are of enough value to
Debian's users to justify their existance and assisting with removal of
buggy/unmaintained non-free packages on an ongoing basis seems like a
trivial and uncontestable first step)

Anyway, does anyone who doesn't understand why we have supermajorities
actually care about the reasons, or are we just at the point of make up
things to discuss for no real reason?


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

 ``If you don't do it now, you'll be one year older when you do.''

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