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Re: GR: Removal of non-free

On Thu, Dec 25, 2003 at 11:08:09PM +0000, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> FUD. There is no possibility of us 'regretting' a decision of the form
> "Ditch non-free [y/n]", which is what this is, for technical reasons.

Sure there is. Suppose there are a significant number of people in Debian
who hold the following sets of views:

	* "If we're going to change the social contract, we should fix it
	   right up; but there's no real need to change afaics"

	* "I want to remove non-free, but make minimal changes to the
	   social contract"

If the votes are separated, then we have the possiblity of the votes coming
out like:

	Remove non-free DEFEATS Keep non-free
followed by
	Big-changes to social contract DEFEATS Small-changes to social contract

which is an outcome both groups would regret.

By contrast if you have a single vote, we can work out the _single_
outcome that's the most satisfactory for the entire group.

A more detailed example:

	A: No change
	B: Remove non-free clause from social contract, remove non-free
	C: Rewrite social contract, remove non-free clause, remove non-free

People's preferences:

	100 BAC
	170 CAB
	 80 ACB

In the first vote, the outcome is:
	270:80 Remove non-free DEFEATS Keep non-free

Second vote:
	250:100 Big changes DEFEATS Little changes

If we voted in a single vote, the outcome would be:

	A defeats B: 250:100
	A defeats C: 180:170
	C defeats B: 250:100

With the decision being "no change". Similarly if we'd voted the other way
around, deciding on the social contract changes first.

Adding in the other plausible alternatives:

	D: Remove non-free clause from social contract, keep non-free
	E: Rewrite social contract, keep non-free clause and non-free
	F: Rewrite social contract, remove non-free clause, keep non-free

makes things more complicated still.

In short: we've got a voting system that can fairly decide amongst many
options. Splitting related options into separate ballots is unnecessary
and does not make as good decisions.

(If you consider the above to be "political" reasons rather than
"technical" ones, then make the distinction be "keep contrib" versus
"drop contrib", with the same numbers. If you don't think that's a
"technical" consideration either, then I'm afraid you'll need to broaden
your horizons to deal with "important" considerations instead.)


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

               Linux.conf.au 2004 -- Because we can.
           http://conf.linux.org.au/ -- Jan 12-17, 2004

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