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Re: GRs, irrelevant amendments, and insincere voting

On Tue, Nov 04, 2003 at 04:00:28PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> If someone ranked "further discussion" above all other options, I'd
> agree that that was probably an insincere vote.

Why so?  I'm not saying I disagree, but I'd like to hear someone else's
thoughts on the phenomenon.  I'm interested in figuring out what sorts
of techniques we might use to distinguish "sincere" preferences from
"strategic" ones.

> However, I an easily understand someone thinking, "if this option doesn't
> get choosen, I want to talk about why".

It seems to me that the same thing can be expressed by not having
"further discussion" on the ballot at all, and asking people to leave
undesired options unranked.  Unranked options would not contribute
toward quorum or anything else.

Given that we have this supplementary way of saying "hell no, I don't
want that", I'm curious to know what the effects are, if those effects
are desirable, and if so, why.

> What I have trouble understanding is why you might classify that sort of
> approach as insincere.  It's not as if we have some shortage of people
> wanting to talk about things on our lists.  Nor is it the case that
> there wouldn't be anything new to talk about.

I beg to differ.  After catching up on the list I see that a couple of
people claim to have ranked option C below further discussion.

Option C was proposed as "AMENDMENT BR3" to this mailing list[1].

There *was* no discussion of it, really.  It collected its seconds, and
there was a side discussion between Manoj Srivastava, Richard Braakman,
and some other folks about whether the DFSG and Social Contract were
separate documents or not (which was no more a failing of amendment BR3
than it was of BR2, the amended form of Manoj's proposal which ended up
on the ballot as Option A).

No one stepped forward to proclaim their opposition to the proposal, and
no one solicited any more discussion of the subject than I supplied in
my rationale.

I conclude from this that we have a system where people are perfectly
comfortable with voicing no challenge or opposition to a proposal; they
just rank it below "further discussion".  Given that ample opportunity
for further discussion was afforded, then yes, I question the sincerity
of that ranking of preferences.

Can people *really* prefer "further" discussion when they do not avail
themselves of any discussion in the first place?  Think about the
literal meaning of ranking the preferences that way.  "I'd rather see
further discussion of this subject than see Proposal Q implemented."

That doesn't leave people a way to say "hell no, I oppose Proposal Q,
and, for that matter, no amount of further discussion will persuade me,
so I'd rather not see that either".  In such a case, the right thing to
do under the Condorcet Method as I understand it is to leave both
"Proposal Q" and "further discussion" unranked.

But strategic voters won't do that, because they can disadvantage an
actively disliked option more by ranking it below "the default option",
which is a Debian innovation.

These extra data reinforce my suspicion that the Condorcet Method is
best understood as understood as a technique for selecting among
candidates for office.  As a legislative technique, it may be a poor
fit, at least as we currently implement it, for the problem space.

There may be ways to rectify the problems I perceive by modifying the
SRP itself, in conjunction with eliminating the default option, but my
thoughts in this area are not well-developed yet.  Two factors I am
trying to keep in mind are: 1) limitations on the amount of labor the
Project Secretary can be expected to undertake just to run a vote;
2) the possibility of simply shifting "insincerity" elsewhere in the SRP
rather than eliminating it.

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2003/debian-vote-200309/msg00049.html

G. Branden Robinson                |    I am sorry, but what you have
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    mistaken for malicious intent is
branden@debian.org                 |    nothing more than sheer
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    incompetence!     -- J. L. Rizzo II

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