Interpreting the constitution on discussion periods
There seems to be a discrepancy between the way I have been
interpreting the constitution, and how the original author meant it
to be interpreted. I have thought about this now for a few days, and
I now believe that the filibustering issues might not be as grave as
I thought. However, the way we have been conudcting discussion
periods has some merit, and does have constitutional justification.
A.1. Discussion and Amendment
1. Following the proposal, the resolution may be discussed.
Amendments may be made formal by being proposed and sponsored
according to the requirements for a new resolution, or directly
by the proposer of the original resolution.
2. A formal amendment may be accepted by the resolution's proposer,
in which case the formal resolution draft is immediately changed
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.
4. If an amendment accepted by the original proposer is not to the
liking of others, they may propose another amendment to reverse
the earlier change (again, they must meet the requirements for
proposer and sponsor(s).)
5. The proposer or a resolution may suggest changes to the wordings
of amendments; these take effect if the proposer of the amendment
agrees and none of the sponsors object. In this case the changed
amendments will be voted on instead of the originals.
6. The proposer of a resolution may make changes to correct minor
errors (for example, typographical errors or inconsistencies) or
changes which do not alter the meaning, providing noone objects
within 24 hours. In this case the minimum discussion period is not
Before we modified our voting process, we used to create
separate ballots for anything not strictly an amendment of the
original proposal, so we could end up having a serial set of GR's
with separate proposals, one by one. The section above points to
formal amendments to a single resolution.
We now put related proposals on the same ballot; along with
For example, the firmware proposals are separate proposals
(Josselin Mouette's started as an amendment to a now withdrawn
proposal, Frederik Schueler's was a separate to start with, Don
Armstrong's seems to be a separate GR, since it does not mention
which proposal it could possibly amend) ; they are different enough
that they can stand on their own right; and indeed, the initial
proposal was withdrawn, so one can't have "amendments" to a proposal
that does not exist. They all should be on the same ballot, unless we
want tactical vote calling to become an issue in the vote. (It has
been pointed out to me that the secretary can pro forma sponsor all
proposals to help synchronize call for votes).
What is tactical vote calling? Suppose there are a series of
solutions to an issue, each one of which can stand up on their own.
When proposal A is made, proposals B and C are being drafted, through
they all are about the same issue. Now, if the proposer of A rushes
things through; B and C can either be rushed through; or they may
elect to have their own GR's, and no longer be bound by the whims of
In that case, we shall have serial GR's, each one of them
being up or down; and the outcome shall depend on who gets the first
word and who gets the last word. This is not in the best interests
of proper decision making; our modified Condorcet voting mechanism
allows us to decide, at one go, between several competing solutions
for the same problem, and there is less chance of gaming the issue.
As far as possible, I shall try and present the voting members as
comprehensive a ballot as possible, so all variant solution and
amendments are present in a single ballot/vote, and minimize the
number of votes we hold on the same issue.
A.2. Calling for a vote
4. The minimum discussion period is counted from the time the last
formal amendment was accepted, or since the whole resolution was
proposed if no amendments have been proposed and accepted.
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(4).
So the final form of the ballot could well have additional
proposals, not just one resolution on it.
A.3. Voting procedure
1. Each resolution and its related amendments is voted on in a single
ballot that includes an option for the original resolution, each
amendment, and the default option (where applicable).
4. In cases of doubt the Project Secretary shall decide on matters of
Nothing here precludes multiple resolutions on the same issue
being on the same ballot. I do realize that while there is some
procedural leeway in starting a vote when a vote has been called (I
generally prefer to start/end votes in the middle of weekends to
since that is when I can be sure of having time to devote to setup,
CFVs, and result determination); it is not infinite; so it might not
be possible to avoid splitting votes on a single issue if some of the
proposers and seconders of resolutions on the same issue insist.
it is up to the proposer and sponsors to decide whether or not
their proposed resolution is a formal amendment, or stands on its own
right but is on the same issue, but should be on the same ballot. But
filibustering is not possible; for amendments, the discussion period
is fixed, and independent resolutions do not have to go on the same
ballot, and if the project has to live with serial GR's, so be it.
There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one
Manoj Srivastava <email@example.com> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>
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