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Re: Informal Discussion: Identities of Voters Casting a Particular Ballot are No Longer Public

Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> writes:

> Don Armstrong <don@debian.org> writes:
>> I'm likely biased because I'm in a privileged position and rarely have
>> to deal with concerted harassment directed specifically at me, so I
>> might be minimizing the real fear people have because I personally
>> haven't experienced it.
> This is almost exactly my concern.
> I'm not particularly worried about making all of my Debian votes public.
> I've been on the Internet for a long time, have the resources to defend
> myself against the sorts of reactions I think are likely, and am not the
> sort of person who tends to draw the most attention anyway.  Maybe I'm too
> optimistic since things seem to be getting worse, but I'm not very worried
> for myself.
> However, I think there's a bias implicit in that sort of analysis, and I
> don't want only the Debian Developers who are similarly situated to be
> able to vote.  If someone is more socially vulnerable than I am, I don't
> want them to have to do this calculus in order to vote their conscience.

This sums up my position as well, but I suppose I was concerned that we
might stumble into doing something to protect the vulnerable based on
several privileged people's imaginings of what it might be like to be

Of course, one cannot really expect someone who feels vulnerable to say
so in public.

I've had one person point out in private that they did feel vulnerable,
but in the end, steeled themselves to vote anyway -- I would hope that
we could arrive at a place where people don't have to go through that.

> I agree with Sam's analysis that the point of Debian votes is to vote as
> individuals, not to vote as trustees on behalf of a constituency, and
> while I too have gotten valuable understanding and course correction from
> seeing people I respect in the project vote differently than me, I don't
> think public voting is a core project value.  I therefore find it hard to
> argue against people's perceived safety (even if it is only a perception).

I find the idea that someone might be forced to reveal their previously
undeclared political views in order to vote particularly persuasive as a
reason to have as-secret-as-possible votes on at least those subjects.

Alternatively, we could just reach a consensus not to even attempt these
sorts of position statements in future, since all they do is highlight

Given that we generally want DDs to be drawn from as diverse a
population as possible, we should expect our views on pretty-much any
subject other than Free Software to represent the full spectrum of
opinion, so drawing an arbitrary line somewhere and then getting the
project to divide on which side we should stand as a group is not likely
to give a useful result, but will give people reasons to be upset with
one another.

I don't really see that the secrecy of the ballot helps in such a case,
since most of the damage is done in the pre-vote discussion.

Perhaps we need a mechanism for people to express a view that a proposed
GR is something that we shouldn't be deciding, to quickly kill the
discussion if a (perhaps super) majority would rather just leave it

>> Perhaps the compromise position is to default to secret ballots, but
>> allow people to automatically unmask their preference at the appropriate
>> time. [Totally not supported by devotee currently, but certainly
>> possible to enable.]
> That's an interesting thought.  My immediate reaction is that the social
> signaling of who reveals their votes and who doesn't is a bit complicated
> and I'm not sure what effect it would have.

In a divisive argument, one grouping might well be able to expose their
opposition's votes by revealing their own.

Cheers, Phil.
|)|  Philip Hands  [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]  HANDS.COM Ltd.
|-|  http://www.hands.com/    http://ftp.uk.debian.org/
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