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Re: [atlarge-discuss] role of voting

On 2002-05-25 11:14:45 -0400, James Love wrote:

>On the GA list there is an often bitter debate over whether or not 
>we can vote on particular measures, and if we pass those measures, 
>are the votes important or unimportant, and what makes a  
>particular vote "important.", or does encouraging participation  
>mean one is "ballot stuffing" and on and on. I would ask Thomas R, 
>who is quite opinionated on these issues in his web log and on the 
>GA list, what his views of this are for the at large.

Thanks for putting so much weight into my personal opinion - but  
that's not really justified, at least not on this list...  ;-) Some  
short notes.  (And an apology for not replying earlier.)

1. I call it voting registry manipulation when someone announces a  
_specific_ vote widely, and, in that way, adds lots of new members  
to a voting registry which has been growing rather slowly before  
(attempts count, too).

In order to avoid that, one could let voting registry entries  
"ripen" before they are allowed to actually participate in a vote:  
For instance, require someone to have been in the registry for three 
months before he or she may participate in a vote.  Or require that  
those who vote have been subscribed to the discuss-list for a  
certain amount of time, so you can assume that they are (kind of)  
well-informed about what they are going to vote on.  (Web forum  
subscriptions are more problematic since people may just not visit  
the forum.  With a mailing list, people generally at least see the  
subject headers of what's going on...)

2. The "important vs. unimportant" discussion doesn't belong on this 
list, I believe.  Obviously, we have strongly divergent views on  
that.  I believe that the motion which gains stronger support should 
be considered the "more important" one. You believe that it's the  
more radical one.  Ultimately, that entire discussion is the result  
of Alexander's and my decision not to make the two resolutions  
mutually exclusive.  (I.e., the ballot asked two questions [do you  
want resolution a?  do you want resolution b?] instead of a single  
one [which resolution do you want?].)

For at-large's purposes, I'd suggest that you folks try to find some 
reasonable algorithm (instant run-off applied the right way, with 
"no resolution" as one possible option?) to tackle this problem with 
_one_ vote, so you don't have to have that discussion on a 
case-by-case basis, possibly even under time pressure.  Note, in 
particular, that simply making similar resolutions mutually 
exclusive and taking the resolution which has most votes can lead to 
various kinds of not-so-funny problems [for a recent example of 
similar problems, look at the French presidential elections], and is 
certainly not the way to go.

3. If you want to avoid lonely decisions on whether or not a  
specific vote should be held, don't put that into the chair's (or,  
here, the panel's) discretion, but have some simple, "mechanical"  
rules to make the decision.  In these rules, in particular avoid  
fuzzy "scope of possible vote" definitions - these will be applied  
and interpreted differently, and lead to all kinds of not so nice  
discussions, as we have just seen in the GA.

(BTW, exercising the chair's discretion on the latest GA vote wasn't 
fun at all.  Alexander and I spent several hours on the phone  
discussing all the various aspects of this stuff before we  
ultimately came up with a decision.  This decision wasn't made  
easier by (1) the kind of defined scope of the GA - WXW certainly  
had a point about that! - and (2) James's Slashdot posting.   
Ultimately, every possible decision had more arguments against than  
in favor.)

Personally, I'd suggest you require that some 5% or 10% of the  
voting registry's members should support a suggested resolution  
before it's placed on the ballot.  You could then have some deadline 
during which alternative motions for the same ballot can also be  
brought forward.  I'll leave it to you folks to work out the details 
of that as far as the at-large effort is concerned.

Thomas Roessler                        <roessler@does-not-exist.org>

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