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Re: Supermajority requirements and historical context [Was, Re: First call for votes for the Lenny release GR]

On Sun, Dec 21, 2008 at 02:22:40PM +0000, Matthew Johnson wrote:
> On Sat Dec 20 17:51, Steve Langasek wrote:
> > On Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 12:48:43PM +0200, Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho wrote:
> > > In my eyes, this argument applies to any situation where a supermajority
> > > might be formally required, and in my opinion the corollary is that
> > > supermajorities are a bad idea in general.

> > > Do you agree with that corollary?  If not, why not?

> > Yes, I agree that supermajority requirements are a bad idea in general.

> Which is a perfectly reasonable attitude to have and I wouldn't be
> surprised if a vote to remove them from our constitution passed (I might
> even second or vote for it), but at the moment we _do_ have
> supermajority requirements and we can't just ignore them because we
> don't like them.

Which is not what I have proposed.  My only expectation is that
supermajority requirements not be imposed for resolutions that *don't*
explicitly modify the constitution or a foundation document (or override the

> > This argument does IMHO not apply to making decisions about what Debian is
> > going to do.  We shouldn't take decisions to set aside the DFSG lightly, but
> > the *process* for arriving at a decision should be lightweight.  By that
> > standard, the past two months have been a failure on multiple levels.

> I think this all just goes to show that while _I_ don't think the
> constitution is ambiguous on this point and _you_ don't think it's
> ambiguous on this point, we both think it means different things, so it
> clearly _is_ ambiguous and this is a bad thing. I think we need to
> rewrite it to be clear and pick one position. I'm not even that bothered
> which one, but I will continue arguing for what I think our foundation
> documents mean (even if the vote goes against what I would prefer, if
> the majority says that).

Perhaps you can propose some language that you think would unambiguously
capture my position?  I not only think the current language is unambiguous,
I think the interpretation of "supersede" that has been tendered by the
previous secretary is sufficiently unreasonable that I'm not sure what kind
of change would be adequate to guard against such interpretations in the
future; and I'd rather not have us bloat the constitution with any more
language about this than absolutely necessary.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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