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Re: Question for the other candidates: supermajority.

On Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 09:24:45AM +0900, Charles Plessy wrote:
> After the very painful GR about “Lenny and resolving DFSG violations”,
> discussions started about our voting system, and the fact that it does not
> accomodate well with mixture of supermajority and regular options. Also,
> disagreements whether an option needs the supermajority often starts bitter
> debates.
> Do you think it is a problem that you would like to solve as a DPL? 

I don't plan to work on that if elected DPL. I agree that that GR was
painful, but it has been so for a mixture of factors, including some
honest mistakes acknowledged by the past secretary which contributed to
his decision of resigning from the position (unfortunately for
everybody, a bit too bitterly).

> During the discussions that started after the GR, I suggested that the GR
> proposer should have more control about the options put to the vote. In
> particular, it would be useful if he can refuse an option that would
> disequilibrate the voting system. That would make him responsible for the
> success of the GR: discarding a popular option is taking the risk that the

I don't like the underlying intuition that this entails, namely that the
GR proposer is somehow "different" from the other people which
contribute to the ballot preparation (e.g. seconders and proposers of
the initial and subsequent amendments). With the current way of
preparing ballots, all such contributors are equal. In fact, such
equality is also reflected by the fact that some people also second
amendments they won't vote for. This is quite nice as it highlights the
principle that GRs are a way to take decisions---used when everything
else fail---rather than an instrument to "win" in a specific "battle".
(I'm not claiming you see GRs that way, I'm just explaining my bad
feeling about this idea.)

The only participant in a GR preparation which is "more equal" than
others is the secretary, which is already ultimately responsible for the
form that the various ballot entries take. Being the secretary means
having the trust of the project in how the constitution is interpreted
and ballots are prepared, that is IMO enough of a guarantee that "shit
will not happen" in ballot preparations (in that respect, the Lenny GR
only shows that we are all humans and that we can make mistakes).

> For the supermajority, I think that it should be used only when
> modifying directly foundation documents.

I fear this quite a bit. Going that way might open the flank to "tricks"
like leaving untouched the foundation documents, but actually subverting
them completely via some external procedure which is incompatible with
the *spirit* of those documents. (Yes, this is being a bit paranoid, but
constitutional rules, in any constitution, have some degree of paranoia
in order to be as much future-proof as possible.)

For instance, I believe that even if your GR proposal on copyright
(point (2)) does not affect the foundation *documents*, it is evident
from the related threads that more than a few DDs think it is in
contradiction with our foundation *principles*. I think we should have
the ability to interpret the constitution and declare 3:1 requirements
accordingly. I also think we should trust the project secretary in
judging that.

> As a compensation, we may let the Secretary declare a GR
> ‘unconstitutional’ and refuse to let it be applied. This would remove
> a lot of meta-discussion in GRs that already produce many emails. In
> contrary with our current sytem, constitutionality of an option would
> only be decided after it gets the Condorcet majority.

I find this quite pointless. In Debian, as we are all volunteers, we
should always consider that decision making processes drain time away
from other, generally more pleasant, hacking activities. Now, it is
absolutely fair to go through them when there is something important at
stake. Nevertheless, having a full GR from start to end, with the risk
that only at the end it will be declared "unconstitutional", is
something that smells of huge time wasting.


Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Dietro un grande uomo c'è ..|  .  |. Et ne m'en veux pas si je te tutoie
sempre uno zaino ...........| ..: |.... Je dis tu à tous ceux que j'aime

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