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GRs, irrelevant amendments, and insincere voting

(Or: How You and Five of Your Friends Can Kill Any GR)

On Fri, Oct 31, 2003 at 04:04:05PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> 	Does Branden's pass the supermajority clause? If not, it presumably
> 	wouldn't if reasked anyway, and it fails.

If it does, and is reasked, what's to stop a group of 6 people[1] from
proposing an "amendment" that guts the original proposal down to nothing
but uncontroversial cosmetic alterations?

This transforms our majoritarian system into one where a very small
minority has veto power over any proposal -- even ones supposedly
subject to a regular majority vote.

At first glance, there is one thing that stop it:

  A.2. Calling for a vote

     2. The proposer or any sponsor of a resolution may call for a vote
     on that resolution and all related amendments.

     3. The person who calls for a vote states what they believe the
     wordings of the resolution and any relevant amendments are, and
     consequently what form the ballot should take. However, the final
     decision on the form of ballot(s) is the Secretary's - see 7.1(1),
     7.1(3) and A.3(6)[3].


  A.1. Discussion and Amendment

     3. If a formal amendment is not accepted, or one of the sponsors of
     the resolution does not agree with the acceptance by the proposer
     of a formal amendment, the amendment remains as an amendment and
     will be voted on.

This says that amendments not accepted by the proposer have to be voted
on -- even, presumably, if they are irrelevant.  Even the Project
Secretary is not at liberty to drop an irrelevant amendment from the
ballot, it seems (the amendment "will" be voted on).

The only real way out of this, it seems, is to advocate insincere
voting.  ("Please rank Mr. A's editorial-only amendments below 'further
discussion' even if you like them, because the whole purpose of this
ballot is to decide whether we're accepting or rejecting *substantive*
amendments to the Social Contract".)

Insincere voting is a defect of voting systems like First-Past-the-Post,
used in U.S. federal elections ("A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush",
the Gore campaign said -- and under the voting system the U.S. is
saddled with, they weren't exactly wrong.)

Condorcet's Method is designed to allow voters to express *sincere
preferences*, but it looks like we might have managed to lose that
property.  I think insincerity in our votes is a bug, not a feature --
it encourages us to be less than candid with each other, and adopt more
extreme positions than we really feel just so we have some hope of
achieving the outcome we really want.  This, in turn, polarizes and
politicizes us a Project, and makes us less of a community.  But others
have stated that insincere voting isn't a problem at all.[4]

Interstingly, it appears on reflection that insincere voting is rewarded
more in our voting system the higher the majority requirement becomes.

[1] the proposer plus K sponsors, per Constitution 4.2.1 -- Q is
    currently somewhere around 15, so K is 5 instead[2]
[2] Constitution 4.2.7
[3] Is it just me, or does clause A.3(6) not even exist?
[4] Message-ID: <tslllwow5qi.fsf@konishi-polis.mit.edu>
    Message-ID: <20021118165449.GA32056@azure.humbug.org.au>

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      Please do not look directly into
branden@debian.org                 |      laser with remaining eye.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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