[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[atlarge-discuss] Thomas Roessler proposes elimination of current voting system for GA

For the GA, Thomas Roessler wants to get rid of secrete vote on policy
issues, and the elimination of the current voting system for resolutions.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Roessler" <roessler@does-not-exist.org>
To: <ga@dnso.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 6:56 PM
Subject: [ga] on using appropriate tools

Thinking a bit more about some of the recent discussions here, I
arrive at the conclusion that a considerable part of the problems we
are experiencing is caused by the use of an inappropriate tool:
Votes like we are using them right now are _not_ the tool we
_should_ be using in order to make declarations of the intent of the
members of the GA.

More precisely, a vote is an instrument by which some well-defined
body comes up with a collective decision.  The accountability for
the outcome of the vote is collective; individual members are not
held accountable for their individual votes.  For this reason, votes
are held in secret. In particular, a vote deliberately withholds a
considerable amount of information from the public.

It is also bad to arbitrarily add new members to the voting registry
for a particular vote: Suddenly, the body making the decision is no
longer well-defined; the result of the vote ("body x says y") itself
becomes ill-defined as a consequence.

Such votes are an appropriate tool when the GA actually acts as a
homogeneous body, that is, when it elects a chairman or
representatives to task forces, or when it votes on its internal
procedures: Votes are appropriate whenever the question at hand is
how the GA as a group of individuals can best organize its

Votes are, however, not appropriate when GA statements are made on
substance.  There are several reasons for this.

Most importantly, the GA is _not_ acting as a homogeneous body when
it comes to substantial topics: We are a mix of constituency members
and interested individuals, of stakeholders and slashdotters.  We
may even want to take into account outside support for substantial
statements (Jamie tried this; similarly, it may be interesting to
shop for support for a uniform deletions policy or certain transfer
policies at nsihorrorstories.com).  What the resolutions discussed
here are about is not a _decision_ within a homogeneous body, but a
demonstration of support (and, possibly, objection!) from those who
want to demonstrate that support (or objection).

For such a demonstration, the deliberate loss of information which
is connected with the current voting mechanism is not desirable: An
explicit list of supporters of a resolution makes a lot more sense
than the apples-and-oranges statement that "the DNSO's GA has voted
for xyz".  In fact, I'd even go a step further than just making the
voting process transparent: Let's get rid of the voting registry and
the complex apparatus we are using altogether, as far as substantive
resolutions are concerned (as opposed to questions of the internal
organization of the GA).

So, here's my suggestion for how to deal with future resolutions:
Set up separate web archives where support and objection are
collected.  The easiest way to do this is to have two separate mail
addresses, like <resolution-[veryshorttitle]-support@dnso.org> and
<resolution-[veryshorttitle]-object@dnso.org>.  Connect each of
these addresses to a web archive.  Distribute a message like the
following one widely (very rough draft), including to the members of
the voting registry:

If you support the above resolution, please send an e-mail
message to <...-support@dnso.org>; if you object, please
send an e-mail message to <...-object@dnso.org>.  If you
want to explicitly record your abstention, send a message to

In your message, please indicate your name, and possible
membership in a DNSO constituency.  Please use the following

Membership: {ga/ga-voting-registry/constituency/external}

Define a deadline for the submission of these messages, and produce
the final report when that deadline is over: Namely, the
resolution's text, and the lists of supporters and objectors,
including their kind of DNSO membership.

To summarize, the process suggested has the following benefits over
the current approach:

 - The resulting statement is well-defined.
 - The process is transparent and can be implemented with
   considerably less effort than the voting process; in particular,
   the safeguards necessary to ensure the integrity of a secret vote
   are not needed here.
 - The very concept of capture does not make any sense, since it is
   reasonably transparent who does and says what.  In particular,
   there is no voting registry to be stuffed.

Of course, one may argue that this approach is relying on the
integrity of the Internet e-mail system too heavily; indeed, faking
a statement of support is as easy as faking an e-mail message.

If this is a concern, the software used would have to be somewhat
more complex: The software would have to send a message to the
e-mail address given which contains the resolution's text and asks
for confirmation.  The simplest approach to implement this is like
this: For each incoming message at one of the -support, -object, or
 -abstain addresses, create a random unique secret string [from a
well-defined and safe to handle set of characters].  Use that as the
file name under which you temporarily store the message.  Demand
that confirmations be sent to ...-{support,object,abstain}-<magic>.
Have a mail bot listening at that address strip the magic out of
the address, and move the saved message into the archive.  After the
end of the vote, move unconfirmed messages into separate archives.

Shouldn't be hard to do.

(If you're unsure about the process I'm describing - it's the same
thing which is commonly done to confirm mailing list subscriptions

Thomas Roessler                          http://log.does-not-exist.org/
This message was passed to you via the ga@dnso.org list.
Send mail to majordomo@dnso.org to unsubscribe
("unsubscribe ga" in the body of the message).
Archives at http://www.dnso.org/archives.html

James Love mailto:james.love@cptech.org
http://www.cptech.org +1.202.387.8030 mobile +1.202.361.3040

To unsubscribe, e-mail: atlarge-discuss-unsubscribe@lists.fitug.de
For additional commands, e-mail: atlarge-discuss-help@lists.fitug.de