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Re: First call for vote on immediate vote under section 4.2.2

MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> writes:
> Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> wrote:

>> Consensus as used in these sorts of discussions and documents is not
>> synonymous with unanimity.  It is consensus in the vein of M-W's 1(b)
>> definition: "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned <the
>> consensus was to go ahead>".  It's akin to "strong majority."

> A few years ago, I would have probably agreed with that.  Sadly, it
> doesn't work.  If your decision annoys the 20 so much that they will
> attack the outcome, you've made a bad decision.  Sometimes bad decisions
> are the only possible decisions, but I don't believe that's as common as
> the disputes under this DPL.

It's possible that you've made a bad decision.  However, you've made a
decision with a consensus behind it, regardless of how vehement the 20%
is, in my opinion.  Again, I've seen this happen time and time again in
the IETF, up to and including sparking endless formal protests from the
people who were in the 20%, and it's still considered a consensus
decision.  My experience in the IETF tells me that sometimes this is the
only way that you'll ever arrive at any decision if the group is large
enough.  I've seen IETF working groups where the only alternatives to
doing something that angered a vocal minority would have been to release a
standard that the majority thought was bad or to give up entirely.

> We need consensus in the vein of M-W's 1(a) definition "general
> agreement : UNANIMITY" and 2 definition "group solidarity in sentiment
> and belief" to get the biggest benefit - or maybe even any benefit.

That's certainly someting to strive for, but I don't think it's a
practical *requirement* in an organization the size of Debian.  I do agree
that we shouldn't easily give up on trying to reach that form of stronger

>> Compare the IETF rough consensus process, where it is explicitly
>> acknowledged that there are often working group members who are part of
>> the rough rather than the consensus.

> Which explicit acknowledgement are you thinking of?

Numerous public statements by the IESG and by ADs over years of working
groups in which I've participated, and release of documents for which
there was exactly that sort of consensus (RFC 2822, for instance).

> As I understood it, well-reasoned objections - even from a minority -
> can outweigh a screaming crowd in the IETF process.

Yes, but that's *not* because of the consensus process.  That's because of
the technical review process, which is an entirely orthogonal metric.
It's possible for a consensus to be technically wrong, which is why the
IETF applies both a consensus process and expert review.

> We have seen reasoned objections to several DPL decisions, yet the
> screaming crowd is used to drown out calls for consensus.  This DPL
> hasn't even looked for rough consensus on some issues, as far as I've
> seen.

One of the problems with applying a reasoned objection metric in practice
is that one person's reasoned objection is another person's obdurate
refusal to listen to reason.  Plus, again speaking from my experience with
the IETF, sometimes the rough part of the rough consensus *is* reasonable
and there's simply an irreconcilable difference within the working group,
with a strong majority in one direction and a reasoned minority in
another.  In that situation, one has to weigh the merits of releasing the
document anyway or giving up.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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