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Re: Proposed ballot for the constitutional amendment

On Tue, Oct 14, 2003 at 10:42:31AM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> On Tue, 14 Oct 2003 08:54:38 -0600, Joel Baker <fenton@debian.org> said: 
> > The best answer, thus, is probably to remove the entire construct,
> > since it is easily confusing and prone to argument, and replace it
> > with a simpler and more easily construed one, such as "The voting
> > mechanism cannot currently handle encrypted ballots; if you encrypt
> > your ballot, it will be rejected."
> 	The replacement text you propose does not convey the same
>  meaning as the original did;  and trying to convey the nuances in
>  less precise speech would make the construct cumbersome. ("shall not"
>  is a more emphatic term, and the "cannot currently handle" implies
>  intent that is not correct).

Then I submit that your meaning is not, in fact, clear to a significant
portion of the only audience that makes sense for this to be addressed
to (that being 'Debian Developers', those who can cast votes).

Or you care far too much about whether someone will think the system might
someday handle them (unless you're the Project Secretary for Life, though,
your successor could, in theory, implement it - which means the emphasis
given by using shall is, in fact, incorrect - you do not have the power to
enforce your statement of intent, past your own tenure).

Perhaps "Do _NOT_ encrypt your ballot; the voting mechanism is not written
to handle encrypted ballots, and rejects them" would work? It makes no
implicit statements about the future, it clearly describes the current
situation, and it entirely avoids the question of will/shall.

> > Ambiguity and working the brain is a good thing in literature, and a
> > very bad thing when writing documentation, especially technical
> > documentation (which is what instructions on using our voting system
> > are, by nature).
> 	I somehow doubt that people won't replace "shall"  with
>  "will"; or that some how "He shall not" is construed as "He may" by
>  my fellow non-native speaker.

Given the context surrounding it, and the fact that it is an explanatory
statement that expands upon a very short and straightforward directive, the
fact that it is ambiguous to a significant number of en_GB speakers, and
the vast majority of en_US speakers (who appear to form a majority of your
audience) is not a crisis - but that doesn't mean that ambiguity is a good
thing for this form of communication.

Or you could simply remove the entire clause, and choose not to expand on
the directive at all, though that seems less than optimal.
Joel Baker <fenton@debian.org>                                        ,''`.
Debian GNU NetBSD/i386 porter                                        : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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