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Re: RFD: amendment of Debian Social Contract

On Sat, Nov 08, 2003 at 08:28:54PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 08, 2003 at 06:56:15PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > Anthony's example splits a potential "change social contract"
> > supermajority into two, and yours splits it into three.
> > 
> > This pretty much ensures the defeat of any option that requires a 3:1
> > majority, and makes it extremely difficult even to satisfy a propostion
> > that requires only a simple majority.
> This doesn't make sense.

Of course it does.  Consider:

[   ] Choice 1: Remove Clause 5 of the Social Contract(, Keep Debian Swirl Red)
[   ] Choice 2: Remove Clause 5 of the Social Contract, Make Debian Swirl Green
[   ] Choice 3: Remove Clause 5 of the Social Contract, Make Debian Swirl Blue
[   ] Choice 4: Further Discussion

250 ballots ranking 1234
250 ballots ranking 2314
250 ballots ranking 3124
250 ballots ranking 2221

Choices 1, 2, and 3 require a 3:1 majority to pass, of course.

What happens?  Our voting system does not give us the ability to reach
the common-sense conclusion that 3 out of every 4 voters wanted to
remove clause 5 from the Social Contract.  Instead, "further discussion"
wins.  Is that because the proposition to remove clause 5 from the
Social Contract failed to persuade 3 out of 4 developers that it was a
good idea?  That doesn't follow from interpretation of the results.

> The thing that defeats an option -- even an option with a supermajority
> requirement -- is that not enough voters think it's good enough.

"Good enough" relative to what?  Not relative to some abstract notion;
it has to be good enough *relative to the other options on the ballot*.
If all the options on the ballot are unacceptable, we can expect a voter
to rank "Further Discussion" alone as preference #1.

> This has nothing to do with how many options are on the ballot.

It has everything to do with how many options are on the ballot if
irrelevant amendments are proposed.

> Of course, if enough people think something else is a better idea, it will
> win because not enough people thought the lesser idea was good enough.
> But this has nothing to do with supermajority.

Inherently, no, but the flaw I claim to have identified is easier to
exploit in any vote where one of the options requires a supermajority to
pass (such options are the juiciest candidates for "attack").

> Note also that statements which don't make sense pretty much make useless
> the concept of referring back to the posts which contain them.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  Is this an effort to wave aside
basically everything I've said, or are you being more subtle?

G. Branden Robinson                |    It may be difficult to to determine
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    where religious beliefs end and
branden@debian.org                 |    mental illness begins.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Elaine Cassel

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